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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Camas’ offensive success starts up front

Most on line have dreaming of this day since freshman year

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: December 2, 2016, 9:11pm

They will hustle up to the line of scrimmage, look across the way to the opponent, focus, prepare, and once the ball is snapped, it will be on.

The quarterback. The running back. The wide receivers. They get their names called over the public address system often.

Saturday night, though, just like in the previous 13 games, the Camas football team will only be successful on offense by following the lead of its linemen.

All of the Papermakers have been on this long journey, from spring football, to summer practice, to the regular season, and through the playoffs. The linemen have led this trek.

“I think we’re one of the best O-lines to go through Camas,” guard Marcus Gray said. “We love each other. We play as a team.”

Jordan Howes starts it all, as the center snapping the ball. Gray is the left guard and JT Tumanuvao is the right guard. Caleb Eldred is the right tackle, leaving Dakota Napierkowski in the marquee position on the line at left tackle.

The Papermakers averaged 45.7 points per game, scoring less than 30 points just once in 13 contests.

“For us to do what we’ve done this year … I love it,” Gray said.

The final literal journey of this season will begin around 1 p.m. at Camas High School. The student body and community are planning a send-off for the Papermakers as they head north for the Tacoma Dome. Camas will take on Richland at 7:30 p.m. for the Class 4A state championship.

The more important journey for players and coaches — this season, this second berth to the championship game in program history — is about to come to an end, as well.

“It’s what I’ve been dreaming of, ever since I was a freshman,” Gray said.

That would have been the fall of 2013, when Chiawana of Pasco stunned Camas with a final-minute comeback for the ages. This is a different team, but for the seniors such as Gray who remember that game, this 2016 run to the dome has a special meaning.

“I told (linebacker/running back) Michael Matthews that night that we’d be back in the dome,” said Gray, who was a freshman in 2013. “It came true. It’s unbelievable.”

As far as this final trip, not a whole lot of changes in store.

This is the 14th consecutive season the Papermakers have reached the postseason. They have had to play at least one playoff game away from Camas in eight of those seasons.

“We’ve been to the playoffs. We’ve traveled. We do what’s best for us,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said. “We’re not doing anything special for this game.”

The journey, though, remains the same: It. Is. Special.

“I’ve always believed our state association does a great job in championships for all sports. Star Track. Mat Classic. Tacoma Dome for football,” Eagle said. “For us to be in the finals for our state, it’s a big deal. It will be a great experience for our kids to be able to drive by the Tacoma Dome and say, ‘I played in there.’ It’s the ultimate.”

Columbian High School Sports Reporter