Camas vs. Union: ‘Nuff said

Rivalry game will decide 4A GSHL championship

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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A 9-year-old Jackson Saylor stood on the Union sideline about to be engulfed in sheer pandemonium.

Inside a jam-packed pre-remodeled Doc Harris Stadium in 2009 for the third meeting between Camas and Union is what Saylor, now the Titans’ backup tight end and defensive end, said kick-started the Camas-Union football rivalry for him.

It’s the game when his older brother, Mitch, ran a 99-yard kickoff return back for a touchdown, the game the Titans committed six turnovers yet scored 21 fourth-quarter points to beat Camas, 35-31, to win the 3A Greater St. Helens League title in a season Union reached the Class 3A state title game.

Quarterback Brandon Weller’s 13-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 10.3 seconds remaining — one of two Union touchdowns in the final 2 minutes — was the play Saylor remembers vividly because it started the craziness that ensued.

“It was insane,” Saylor said.

At that same game was a 10-year-old Drake Owen. What he didn’t understand was why his older brother, Addison, whose two first-half catches for Camas went for touchdowns of 51 and 7 yards, was so upset.

Now, of course, Drake Owen knows.

“I’d never seen him so mad after a game,” said Owen, now a senior for the Papermakers.

When the top-ranked Papermakers (8-0 overall, 3-0 4A Greater St. Helens League) host No. 5 Union (7-1, 3-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Doc Harris Stadium in a football showdown that features plenty of high stakes, it’ll be the first time since 2009 the two teams squared off for a league title in the regular-season finale. While the Papermakers have won the past five meetings, Owen said this of the rivalry: “I think it’s back this year.”

Camas leads the all-time series, 6-2. The two teams did not play in 2010 and ’11 when Union was a 4A school, but Camas was still a 3A school.

No longer a young spectator, Jackson Saylor hopes Friday will be even “bigger and better” than what he recalls in 2009.

“I’m excited to play,” he said. “It’s a really exciting game, and I can’t wait to see what we’ve got.”

Friday’s winner earns the league’s No. 1 seed, meaning it does not have to travel outside Clark County for the first three postseason games. The loser will hit the road for the first two playoff rounds starting in next week’s Week 10 state preliminaries.

A big game with a lot at stake. It’s No. 1 vs. No. 5 for the 4A GSHL title.

The coaches, too, are excited to be a part of something special. Camas coach Jon Eagle called it a big game for its great tradition. Not as big as winning last December’s Class 4A state title, but still big.

Union coach Rory Rosenbach, like Eagle, also is a state title-winning coach. He won Oregon state titles at Eugene’s Marist Catholic in 2005 and ’07, and is learning the significance of this game as the Titans’ second-year coach.

While the Titans haven’t won in the series since the 2009 meeting, it could be an offensive show of fireworks between the two teams Friday. Union’s equally been impressive offensively (46.6 points per game) as it has defensively (12.6) since its lone loss this season to 3A’s top-ranked Eastside Catholic, 35-0, in Week 3. Since then, the Titans have won five straight, and Rosenbach called last week’s 43-14 win over Skyview the most complete game Union’s had in his tenure.

Ranked No. 1 all season, Camas hasn’t lost a beat from its state title-winning team with a notable number of underclassmen as first-time starters. A win Friday makes it six straight 4A GSHL titles, and eight consecutive league crowns dating back to back-to-back 3A GSHL titles in 2010 and ’11.

The last time Camas didn’t win a league title Union won the crown because of that win in 2009.

It also would be seven straight undefeated regular seasons for Camas and stretching its regular-season winning streak to 59 wins.

It’s a particular feat senior Isaiah Abdul takes great pride in, but it’s not the team’s focus.

That goes toward each week’s game, and the Papermakers let the victories speak for streak itself.

“We live up to that standard of this is what Camas is,” Abdul said, “and we bring that every game.”