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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Camas defeats Richland for its first state football championship

Papermakers beat Bombers 24-14 for 4A crown

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: December 3, 2016, 10:40pm
9 Photos
Camas&#039; Cooper McNatt, middle right, celebrates his touchdown catch with teammates Drake Owen, left, and Ryan Rushall, right, during action against Richland in the 4A State Football Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016,  in Tacoma, Wash.
Camas' Cooper McNatt, middle right, celebrates his touchdown catch with teammates Drake Owen, left, and Ryan Rushall, right, during action against Richland in the 4A State Football Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Tacoma, Wash. (Photo by Patrick Hagerty) Photo Gallery

TACOMA — They crushed teams in September. They kept rolling in October. They owned November.

In December, the Camas Papermakers finished the job.

They are now and will forever be the Perfect Papermakers and the 2016 Class 4A state football champions.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m on top of the world right now,” quarterback/safety Jack Colletto said Saturday night after leading Camas to a 24-14 victory over Richland in the state finals at the Tacoma Dome.

“So thankful for everybody. The scout team. The community. The coaches. The players. We all deserved this.”
Will Schultz scored on a 38-yard run — his first carry of the night — to give Camas the lead for good in the third quarter, and Jack Colletto secured the victory with a 34-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.

Fittingly, Colletto also got the interception to seal the deal. Recently named the state player of the year by The News Tribune of Tacoma, Colletto played Saturday like he was, well, the state player of the year.

“I was pumped. I wasn’t letting anybody catch me,” Colletto said of the final touchdown. “I just took off.”

That gave the Papermakers a 10-point lead with less than three minutes to play. Colletto, though, recalled the last time Camas was in this position, when the Papermakers lost a 13-point lead in the 2013 championship game to Chiawana.

“I’m not letting them beat us when we’re up two scores,” Colletto said of his mindset just after the touchdown.

Camas had to play defense, again, after all.

“Don’t get beat deep,” Colletto told himself.

Didn’t happen. Instead, he got the interception. Three plays later — two in victory formation — Camas could celebrate the school’s first state title in the sport.

“You don’t have many chances to make history. We definitely did tonight,” senior defensive lineman Cody Jackson said.

“Once you see the clock start to wind down, and you know it’s your final plays of high school football, you just give it all you’ve got,” he added. “No better feeling than going out like this.”

The Papermakers have made the playoffs the past 14 seasons, they’ve been to the final four three times before this year, even to the title game once previously.

“It’s amazing. First team to bring back the ‘ship,” Tanner Howington said. “Just the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m never going to forget this.”

Michael Matthews, the defensive leader of this team, paid tribute to all those Papermakers from the past.

“It’s a testament to those teams and all the hard work they put in year after year after year,” Matthews said. “They set a high standard. Now we’re the group of dudes, the first ones to get that ring.”

Camas coach Jon Eagle was seen long after the game, holding on to a lot of things, including the championship trophy.

“I’m not letting go of this,” he said with a smile as big as the dome.

“It’s just a lot of people putting a lot of work in,” Eagle said, reflecting on this perfect season. “We thank the players all the time for giving their time, energy and effort, to being part of something bigger than themselves.”

When it was over, with Camas in victory formation, Eagle said it was kind of a relief.

“I thought we beat a very good team,” Eagle said.

True, this final challenge to a Camas championship came from Richland. The Bombers came prepared, too, holding Camas to a season low in points. And in the third quarter, the Bombers took the lead on a nine-play, 81-yard drive that ended when running back Parker McCary recovered an offensive fumble in the end zone to make it 14-10.

The Papermakers, not used to trailing, had no panic. Instead, they just went to work, responding with an 80-yard drive. Schultz would get the go-ahead touchdown with four minutes to play in the third quarter.

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That put the game into the hands of the Camas defense. Those are very secure hands, by the way.

The Bombers did get to the Camas 14-yard line on their next drive, but rather than trying to tie the game with a field goal, opted to go for a first down on fourth-and-1.

The pursuit got to the Richland running back, with Sedric Ruiter making the tackle just short of the stick. Loss of downs Richland early in the fourth quarter. First down Camas.

Camas would end up punting back to the Bombers, but the Camas defense just got stronger down the stretch.

Luke Bruno knocked away a pass, then Marshall McIvor crushed the quarterback and Jackson finished off the play for the sack.

“We just had to get our stop, hand the ball back to our offense, then let them play it out,” Jackson said.

Richland elected to punt, in hopes of getting one more stop, to give its offense one more shot.

Didn’t happen.

Colletto happened. His 34-yard touchdown run made it 24-14.
There would be no miracle finish for a Camas opponent from the Tri-Cities this year.

26 Photos
Camas' Marshall McIvor, right, brings the trophy to the Camas fans after Camas defeated  Richland in the 4A State Football Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016,  in Tacoma, Wash.
Camas vs Richland state championship football game Photo Gallery

Instead, it was a championship finish by a perfect team from Southwest Washington.

Colletto would get the interception, setting off another celebration.

The Papermakers scored on their opening possession of the game when Colletto escaped what seemed like a sure sack. Instead of a big loss on the play, Colletto broke a tackle, bought some time, and found Cooper McNatt for a 35-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.

“It felt really good to get a touchdown in a game I’ve been watching since the fifth grade,” McNatt said.

Richland would tie the game on Ben Stanfield’s 41-yard run with a minute to go in the first half.

That, as Camas fans know, is plenty of time for the Papermakers. With the aid of two Richland penalties, they got into scoring position. Michael Boyle was true on a 34-yard field goal on the final play of the first half for a 10-7 advantage.

Richland did bounce back to take the lead in that second half. Camas had an answer, though.

Camas’s victory completes a 14-0 season, with tests against some of the best teams in Oregon, Idaho and the rest of Washington as well as the challenge of the competitive 4A Greater St. Helens League.

This is the third state football title for Clark County, the second from a big school. Ridgefield won the 1995 Class 1A title. Evergreen won the 4A title in 2004. The Papermakers joined the Plainsmen as the only big school teams from Clark County to go undefeated.

Saturday’s victory completes an amazing transformation for the program. Bob Holman took over the program in 1997, winning exactly zero games that first season as the program was in the midst of a 22-game losing streak. The Papermakers got their first winning season under Holman in 2000, and they just kept winning. Holman’s Papermakers reached the playoffs in 2003 and won their first league title in 2005.

Eagle took over the program in 2008. Camas won its first state playoff game in 2010 and has been a consistent threat since then, reaching the semifinals in 2011 and 2012 before making it to the championship game in 2013.

This year, though, the Papermakers were not settling for second place.

CAMAS 24, RICHLAND 14

Camas 7 3 7 7—24
Richland 0 7 7 0—14

First quarter
Cam — Cooper McNatt 35 pass from Jack Colletto (Michael Boyle kick)
Second quarter
R — Ben Stanfield 41 run (Adam Weissenfels kick)
Cam — Boyle 34 FG
Third quarter
R — Parker McCary recovers offensive fumble in end zone (Weissenfels kick)
Cam — Will Schultz 38 run (Boyle kick)
Fourth quarter
Cam — Colletto 34 run (Boyle kick)

Individual statistics
RUSHING — Camas: Colletto 19-88, Schultz 2-51, Michael Matthews 11-18, Elias Bashir 2-6. Richland: Stanfield 13-83, McCary 10-29, Paxton Stevens 5-26, Team 1-(minus 15).
PASSING — Camas: Colletto 14-20-0-184. Richland: Stevens 15-25-2-175, Weissenfels 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Camas: Drake Owen 7-75, McNatt 4-66, Matthews 1-27, Christian Nghiem 1-11. Richland: Stanfield 2-8, Ryan Piper 1-14, McCary 1-7, Alex Chapman 1-6, Gaven Brasker 4-55, Weissenfels 4-43, Kody Kjarmo 2-42.

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Columbian High School Sports Reporter