The emotions are still too raw, the frustration too fresh.
Camas lost in the most heartbreaking fashion Saturday. In an instant, a seemingly perfect season became one that ended in tears.
Two touchdowns in the final 55 seconds saw Chiawana of Pasco snatch away a state title that the Papermakers had seemingly etched in stone.
Several players were inconsolable. Nate Beasley lay on his back, blankly looking at the Tacoma Dome ceiling.
“There’s nothing you can say that will take away the pain they’re feeling,” coach Jon Eagle said. “It’s important they understand that no one person caused what happened.”
Eventually, the Camas players will rebound. They’ll someday remember the joy of 13 wins and not just the gut-wrenching ache of one loss.
It’s tempting to measure what the Camas High School football team accomplished in wins and losses. By that gauge, Camas finished the season one step short of perfection.
But the true meaning of what Camas accomplished is more nuanced and offers lessons the players will draw upon the rest of their lives.
Most people’s definition of perfection implies no setbacks. By that measure, before Saturday Camas never fumbled, was never challenged, was never knocked down and had to get back up.
All those things happened prior to Saturday. Camas bounced back every time.
They’ll bounce back from this.
Health wasn’t perfect for Beasley, who was slowed by a hip injury during the season. But through patience and determination, he rebounded to be the Papermakers’ most dynamic playmaker in the playoffs.
Life wasn’t perfect for Drew Clarkson. Testicular cancer meant the lineman spent the offseason recovering from surgery and chemotherapy. After knocking cancer on its butt, he was back dishing out the blocks that earned him a football scholarship to Oregon State.
Luck wasn’t perfect for Dylan White, who suffered a broken hand in the Papermakers’ first postseason game. Instead of being done for the season, the linebacker played with his surgically repaired hand wrapped in a bandaged club for the final two games.
Scout team and backup players weren’t blessed with perfect size, skill or speed. Yet they put their egos aside, got knocked around in practice, and played an unheralded role in a journey each will remember the rest of their lives.
Some members of the team will continue to play football. Some won’t.
Some will live their lives in Clark County. Others will go elsewhere. Regardless, this season with the football team will be a compass in that journey.
They’ll know that amid life’s wins and losses, it’s the way you respond and the teammates you gain that are the true measure of success.
They’ll know that each player’s unique talents and personalities are enhanced when put toward a greater good. As a team, amazing things can be achieved.
There’s triumph in that, state title or not.