CAMAS — One could argue this is the biggest game in Camas football history.
But you really have to think about it, you really have to open your mind, in order to get there.
Is it more important than the Class 3A state semifinal game last year? Of course not.
Is it more important than the Week 9 game against Union in 2009 for the league title? Nope.
But is tonight’s Class 4A Greater St. Helens League game against Skyview bigger than those other contests?
Well, yes, if you are only going by classification.
Tonight marks the first time Camas will play a league football game in the largest classification in the state. It just so happens the schedule pits the Papermakers against Skyview, a team that reached the 4A state title game last year.
So, not only is this a first for the Papermakers, not only is it the game of the week in Clark County, but it likely is the game of the week in the state. Skyview comes in ranked No. 4 in the state in the latest Associated Press poll. Camas is No. 5.
Camas started selling tickets to the game Wednesday. A pre-sale event for a Week 5 regular-season game is rare in these parts.
Big enough for ya yet?
Oh, it’s going to be fun, the Papermakers say. At the same time, they don’t want to get carried away with anything.
“It’s a big game, but we’re just starting league,” linebacker John Norcross said. “It might feel like we’re having a big playoff, but we’re just heading into league.”
Sure, the winner of this game will have a jump toward a league championship. But Union awaits both teams. Battle Ground is 4-0 in the non-league season. This is the game of the week, but not necessarily the game of the season.
“You can’t take a week off in 4A,” Norcross said. “All the teams are going to present challenges. We’re hoping to get to the playoffs this first year in 4A.”
Quarterback Reilly Hennessey prefers to stay away from the hype.
“I’m just trying to approach it as just another game,” he said. “I think it will hit me when the bus gets to the stadium and I see the amount of people and the press. I’m just going to let that set in as the moment happens.”
Practice looks like any other practice at Camas: The players are focused.
“We’re going about it the same. All out, every practice,” senior linebacker Nick Gadbaw said. “We want everybody to be intense, get a better look. But that’s what we do every week.”
The students are ready for Color War, the end of spirit week at the school.
So far this week, Camas has had the upper hand against Skyview. The Camas volleyball team opened league play with a win over Skyview, and the Camas girls soccer team did the same with a win over the Storm.
Pressure’s on the football team, right?
“Getting those wins were great,” Norcross said. “The eyes are on us now,”
Gadbaw expects a battle. Camas has won its first four games this season by the combined score of 192-55.
“I’m really excited about this challenge,” Gadbaw said. “It’s going to be fun to have a full-on big game, with everything on the line until the last moment.”
Camas coach Jon Eagle understands the fascination with this matchup. He has heard from media members based in Seattle and Tacoma, plus radio and TV have made contact with the school.
“We all saw this coming,” Eagle said, noting how successful each team was last year in the different classifications.
Now in the same classification, this was to be expected.
Still, Eagle is trying to downplay the angle that Camas is finally playing against the big schools.
“I feel like we’ve been a 4A team all this time,” he said. “We’ve been playing 4A teams in most sports for a long time. It doesn’t feel any different.”
The difference is Camas’ win over Skyview in 2010 did not help the Papermakers win a league title. Skyview’s win over Camas last season did not help the Storm to a league title. They were non-league contests between strong programs.
Tonight, the game will mean more to everyone involved.
“Everybody is energetic,” Norcross said. “We’re pumped. It’s going to be a big game. Skyview got us last year. We’re hoping to give them a good show and hopefully see a different outcome.”