CAMAS — It matters.
It might not have been for a state championship, but this was still special for the Camas Papermakers.
“It means the world to me, to the team, to the city,” senior wide receiver James Price said Friday after Camas held off defending state champion Chiawana of Pasco 16-14 at Doc Harris Stadium. “It’s not revenge. We’re playing for everybody who ever played for or supported Camas High School. This is a terrific feeling.”
Dane Santos scored on a 45-yard interception return to give Camas a nine-point lead with 5:25 to play. Liam Fitzgerald, in his first start at quarterback for the Papermakers, and Price led the offense.
Chiawana beat Camas in the Class 4A state title game last December, scoring two touchdowns in the final minute for a one-point victory.
The home crowd groaned a bit late in this one when Chiawana scored to make it a two-point game with 4:42 remaining.
This time, the Papermakers never let the Riverhawks get the ball again.
Reid Conlee gained 35 yards on his five carries in the final drive — his only carries of the game — and then Fitzgerald and Price teamed up to secure the victory with a 37-yard pass on a third-and-18 play.
“We knew when we got on the field we had to control the clock, control the tempo, and we’d be fine,” Fitzgerald said of that final possession. “It was such a relief getting that first down. It pretty much sealed the deal.”
Price said he loved the play call by coach Jon Eagle.
“I knew I had the opportunity to make a difference in the game. When I first saw the ball, I had butterflies. Once I caught it, I knew,” Price said. “I knew I had the whole city of Camas behind me.”
Santos did his best Richard Sherman impersonation, jumping a fourth-down route for his pick-six to give the Papermakers a 16-7 lead.
“It’s not me. It’s my team. They’ve all been working so hard. Watching film. Practicing hard. The scout team. Everything. Everybody,” Santos said. “Just the work of a good team.”
A minute or so later, though, Chiawana’s Dre Dorton caught a 62-yard scoring pass from Logan Ellsworth.
Oh no, you could almost hear the home crowd say.
The Papermakers were not concerned.
“Composure,” Santos said. “Just gotta be calm. Just gotta do your assignment.”
Then the offensive line created running room for Conlee and Fitzgerald, who combined to rush for 34 yards on the first five carries of the ensuing possession. Penalties pushed Camas back, but that just allowed Fitzgerald and Price to shine one more time.
Fitzgerald finished 18 of 30 for 250 yards and a touchdown. Price caught eight passes for 132 yards. Price also intercepted a Chiawana pass in the end zone in the third quarter.
“That was a classic example of bend-but-don’t-break defense,” Eagle said. “We gave up a lot of yards, but whenever we needed to stop them, every single time they rose up to the occasion and made it happen.”
Austin Urlacher rushed for 227 yards on 33 carries for Chiawana. His 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the Riverhawks a 7-0 lead.
The Papermakers got three back on a 27-yard field goal from Caleb Lightbourn.
Camas would take the lead for good four minutes into the second quarter when Fitzgerald found Jared Bentley on a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Defenses dominated for much of the rest of the night.
Even after Chiawana scored late in the game, Conlee had the perfect response.
“It just meant we got the ball back quicker,” he said. “Then we just finished the game.”
Fitzgerald called it a weight off his shoulders, off the team’s shoulders.
“To win this game versus them, it was special,” he said.
Camas 16, Chiawana 14
Chiawana 7 0 0 7–14
Camas 3 7 0 6–16
Chi — Austin Urlacher 25 run (Matt Winn kick)
Cam — Caleb Lightbourn 27 FG
Cam — Jared Bentley 19 pass from Liam Fitzgerald (Lightbourn kick)
Cam — Dane Santos 45 interception return (kick failed, bad snap)
Chi — Dre Dorton 62 pass from Logan Ellsworth (Winn kick)
RUSHING — Chiawana: Urlacher 33-227, Corey Ball 5-30, Cortez Ruiz 2-20, Dorton 4-27, Logan Ellsworth 4-(minus 11). Camas: Cole Zarcone 10-82, Fitzgerald 9-34, Bryan Kelly 5-30, Jake Peebles 1-10, Reid Conlee 5-35, Team 1-(minus 20).
PASSING — Chiawana: Ellsworth 7-18-2-137. Camas: Fitzgerald 18-30-0-250.
RECEIVING — Chiawana: Dorton 4-98, Dillon Coonrad 1-21, Ruiz 1-8, Urlacher 1-10. Camas: James Price 8-132, Zarcone 2-27, Bentley 3-43. Matt Thomas 1-10, Santos 1-4, Blake Roy 2-28, Hunter Bruno 1-6.