Football preview: Championship dreams at Camas

Love of game, city fuel quarterback Reilly Hennessey

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoCamas High School wide receiver Zach Eagle at practice Thursday.

(/The Columbian)

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photoReilly Hennesey, Camas quarterback

Class 4A football previews

Saturday: Camas

Sunday: Union

Monday: Evergreen

Tuesday: Heritage

Wednesday: Battle Ground

Thursday: Skyview

Friday: Class 3A kickoff

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The Camas Papermakers have the highest of expectations this season, a goal to play -- and win -- in December. But there is so much more to playing football at Camas than victories on the football field.

Their quarterback has understood this for years.

"I remember as a kid going to Camas games and watching the passion those guys had," senior Reilly Hennessey said earlier this week. "It was so obvious they were playing for more than just themselves. That's what I've tried to carry with me into high school. We're playing for a city."

Hennessey, a 6-3, 195-pound senior, said he enjoys playing high school football in a one high school town.

"People know your name, and we know how special that is," he said. "It takes a lot of responsibility, too. You have to take it upon yourself to lead."

His position calls for leadership, but Hennessey said that's not difficult with this group of players. They all understand what is at stake this year, all determined to make their school and city proud of them, on the field and off.

Part of that is appreciating the journey, not just the destination.

Hey, no sugarcoating anything here. The Papermakers are thinking big. After losing in the Class 4A state semifinals last year and returning 21 starters, the state championship is on their minds.

However, Hennessey maintains, it cannot all be about that one thing.

"That's the ultimate goal but if you get caught up in the hype, if you're looking online every day at the rankings, you lose focus on your job," he said. "I'm really trying to soak it all up and enjoy the moment with by buds.

"I didn't start playing football because I wanted to win a state championship. I started playing football because I love this game."

The title, if it happens, will be the bonus, the final gift of high school football before Hennessey heads off to college. This summer, he told Eastern Washington officials he had accepted their offer and would play for the Eagles. Signing day is in February of 2014.

"He is the epitome of a guy who set a goal and was willing to devote enough time to reach that dream," Camas coach Jon Eagle said.

The work paid off on the field last year, when Hennessey threw for 2,801 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Still, there is one game the Papermakers wish they could take back.

Camas gave up a 14-0 lead and lost to Skyline 51-28 in the semifinals. Hennessey threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns that day, but he also was intercepted four times.

Those turnovers pushed him to work out on days he did not want to during the offseason, kept him in the weight room a little longer.

He said he made a point to get over the heartache right away, but he still uses that game for motivation.

"Not too many juniors get to learn from something like that. What an opportunity, getting that under my belt," Hennessey said. "I get to use that to become more focused.

"I'm trying to look at it as a positive. Everything's a learning opportunity."

Hennessey lost his voice on the first day of practice, just too thrilled, too excited to keep quiet that day.

"A week before practice, I was telling everyone, 'I'm ready for summer to be over. I'm ready for football.' I'm overjoyed it is finally here," Hennessey said. "I'm home."

Camas is his home. His high school. His city.

Camas Papermakers

Coach: Jon Eagle.

2012 record: 12-1, 5-0 4A GSHL.

Key players: Reilly Hennessey, sr., qb; Drew Clarkson, sr., ol/dl; Zach Eagle, sr., wr/db; Nate Beasley, sr., rb/db; Jorden Payne, sr., db/wr; Dylan White, sr., te/lb; Michael DiGenova, sr., lb/te; Brad Hansen, sr., lb; Jason Vailea, sr., dl/rb; Matt Walser, sr., ol; Chris Durrett, sr., ol; Michael Johnson, sr., db/wr; James Price, jr., wr/db; Matt Danis, sr., ol; Adam Dawson, sr., lb; Cole Zarcone, jr., rb/db; Trey Benson, sr., db.

Season outlook: Camas has garnered the most pre-season hype of any team from Clark County since the turn of the century. By just about everyone’s account, this is the best or second-best team in the state. The Papermakers must guard against that hype. “If you’re looking at the last game of the year, you’re going to trip up somewhere along the way,” coach Jon Eagle said.

2013 SCHEDULE

Sept. 6 vs. Jesuit

Sept. 13 at Canby (Ore.)

Sept. 20 at Auburn MV

Sept. 27 vs. Lakes

Oct. 4 at Skyview*

Oct. 11 at Evergreen*

Oct. 18 Union*

Oct. 25 Heritage*

Nov. 1 at Battle Ground*

  • — 4A GSHL game

Home games played at Doc Harris Stadium, 1125 NE 22nd Ave, Camas.

For more on high school football, go to The Columbian’s high schools sports blog at:

blogs.columbian.com/high-school-sports