(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
CAMAS -- Aaron Deml and Dustin Krecklow go to practice every day, determined to make themselves better.
They are even more determined, though, to make their teammates better.
Deml and Krecklow, seniors on the Camas football team, realize their playing time will be limited, if they get in the game at all. They also understand -- as do their teammates -- that they are big-time contributors to a team that is 12-0 and headed for the Class 4A state semifinals.
Quality football programs need more than just the touchdown-makers on the field on Friday nights in front of the big crowds. They need teammates willing to make the sacrifices on Wednesdays, in front of nobody -- the guys on the scout team.
"You have to put your ego aside and really just think about what is best for the team," Krecklow said. "I know what my role is. My role is to make the starters better. That's what makes championship teams. We have a common goal to win state."
Deml, a scout team linebacker, gets crushed every so often against one of the best offensive lines in the state.
"You just have to go hard in practice, even when the going is tough," Deml said. "I've been killed by the O-line. You just have to keep going at it. You really get to see the full results on Friday nights, or now, Saturday nights."
The Papermakers will take on Bellarmine Prep at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome. The winner will advance to the Class 4A state championship game on Dec. 7.
For the seniors on the scout team, this is it. One or two more football games. They do it for pride. They do it for the chance at a title. They do it for the love of the sport.
Sophomores Jordan Del Moral and Blake Roy also are scout team standouts. They follow the lead by the seniors on the scout team, to go all out to prepare the starters. The difference is the sophomores have two more years to prove they belong among the elite.
Del Moral, who has scored three touchdowns this season in blowout victories, called this season "perfect timing" for him and the rest of the sophomores.
"We get to come in to a pretty darn good team and we get to learn from the guys who have been doing it," he said.
This is Camas' third consecutive trip to the semifinals. The seniors this year were sophomores during that first trek to the Tacoma Dome.
"They want to help us out," Del Moral said.
Roy certainly is one of the success stories coming out of the scout team.
"I was hoping I'd be able to suit up a few (varsity) games," Roy said of his goal early in the season.
He got a lot more than that.
His play in practice caught the eye of coaches. And when senior tight end Dylan White went down with an injury, Roy ended up getting quality minutes in a playoff game.
"That's how guys break in," Camas coach Jon Eagle said. "They do something spectacular on the scout team and coaches say, 'We need to find a place for this guy.'"
Eagle added that all football teams try to develop a scout team that will push the starters to the max. He said it takes a special kind of attitude to excel on the scout team.
"Football is a team sport," Deml said. "This is one unit. It's great when I get in Friday nights, but on scout team, I love going up against our O-line. They make me the best player I can be. I hope I've helped them."
Krecklow, a wide receiver, said he likes it when he does something "cool" against the first-team defense. Not to show anyone up, but to show something that the first team can learn from as it prepares for its next game.
"From the beginning, you know your role," Krecklow said. "Just try to do your best and do what you can do."
From the starting quarterback to the last guy on the scout team, the Papermakers show respect to one another.
"There is no hierarchy. 'I'm a starter. I'm so much better.' There's none of that," Krecklow said.
"I've been playing football with these guys since the eighth grade," Deml added. "They're family."
The roles for each player are different. The goal is the same.
The Camas Papermakers need everyone on their team, in every capacity, in order to achieve that goal.