Today we launch the first of a three-part photo series following the Camas Papermakers through the 2013 high school football season.
Columbian photographer Steven Lane has been granted exclusive access to the players and coaches. He will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what might be the most highly touted local team in recent memory.
If this project is successful, we hope to follow another team next year, perhaps one that is trying to build a program.
The project begins today with a look at the team's buildup to its season opener. The second part will come in the middle of the season, while the final part will be published soon after the season ends.
Win over Jesuit sends excitement to new level
The 2012 Camas football season ended with a loss in the Class 4A state semifinals, but it only took 10, maybe 15, minutes for the players to start thinking about 2013.
“Oh, man, I’m so excited for next year,” quarterback Reilly Hennessey said moments after the game. “This opens our eyes even wider to what it takes — a little more work, a little more time in the weight room, a little more focus.”
Since then, it has been all about wining a state title in 2013.
People have noticed, too.
Twitter was abuzz with Camas this, Camas that throughout the summer. Not just football fans in Southwest Washington, but media outlets in Tacoma, Seattle, even those based in Oregon.
The expectations are off the chart now after Camas opened the season with a 47-14 victory over powerhouse Jesuit.
“To beat the No. 1 team in Oregon like that was unthinkable,” defensive lineman Jason Vailea said. “Guess we’ve been working harder than we thought.”
Camas remained ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and the state coaches poll.
After the game, Camas coach Jon Eagle said his phone and email “blew up” with messages of congratulations. It was fun to win such a high-profile game, he said, but the Papermakers understand it was just Week 1.
“We talk about staying grounded,” Eagle said. “There is an inner circle — players and coaches — and an outer circle. The outer circle is going to tell you everything you want to hear. The inner circle is going to tell you what you need to hear.
“This group does a good job of policing themselves.”
Still, the outside distractions keep saying Camas is No. 1.
Vailea appreciates the recognition, but it also means Camas is a target.
“We feel like there are other teams out there looking to hunt us down,” Vailea said.
All part of the expectations for a championship season.