TACOMA — Revenge Tour complete. Its biggest check mark to date is done. With it, came its most joyous celebration of the season.
The Camas Papermakers have rolled all season, from dominating teams in September to controlling October through the 4A Greater St. Helens League. By November, they also owned the postseason.
And Saturday night’s Class 4A football state championship game against Bothell proved no different. They’re the Perfect Papermakers after a 35-14 win to capture their second title in four seasons.
The setting might’ve been new — Mount Tahoma High School, instead of the Tacoma Dome where the Gridiron Classic for all state championship games was held since 1995 — but the championship atmosphere, performance and feeling felt perfect.
“I’m glad I was able to do it with these dudes,” senior Charlie Bump said. “This is something I’ll share with them forever.”
Camas never trailed, but no lead felt safe either. Not at 21-14 when Bothell roared back on its opening drive of the third quarter eating nearly 5 minutes off the block.
It wasn’t until Jackson Clemmer snagged a one-handed interception of Bothell quarterback Andrew Sirmon that put the celebratory wheels in motion with 2:11 to play in the game.
Celebrations extended long after players doused head coach Jon Eagle with ice water in the closing seconds. It stretched into the red-and-black fan base surrounding the stadium’s east grandstands and bleachers.
Players posed for photos and celebrated with their family and friends, and many sprawled out at midfield to soak in the experience of being a state champion.
It tastes even sweeter, too, since Bothell (12-2) is the same team that upended Camas’ season in last year’s state preliminary round.
Now, it’s come full circle.
“The feeling of knowing all of that hard work meant something,” left tackle Tristan Souza said. “I can’t describe the feeling. Beyond happiness.”
Said Forner: “You couldn’t script it any better.”
Camas is now part of elite company. It’s the fourth consecutive season a Clark County team played for — and won — a state championship. What this year’s Camas team has in common with the 2016 Camas team, Hockinson’s 2017 title team and last year’s Hockinson and Union teams is they all went undefeated.
These Papermakers join them, and in particular, a number of seniors on a 31-player senior class, played pivotal roles against the Cougars.
For starters, quarterback Blake Asciuotto completed his first eight passes and finished with 207 receiving yards. Then there’s Clemmer (four catches, 76 yards), whose 28-yard touchdown catch on a third-and-9 play extended Camas’ lead by two scores.
There’s the defense, highlighted Forner’s team-high seven tackles at linebacker and Bump’s three pass breakups and five tackles.
The defense kept Sirmon from too many big plays. His longest — a 39-yard touchdown pass to big-man Jordyn Turner — pulled Bothell to within 21-14 to open the third quarter.
Camas closed out of the game scoring the game’s final two touchdowns.
Before that, Camas burst to a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter and by halftime (21-7), held a 140-25 advantage in rushing yards.
Then there’s the senior-laden offensive line that helped junior Jacques Badolato-Birdsell to set a new career-high in carries (34) for 207 rushing yards. He had touchdown run of 6, 48 and 3 yards — the final one came after Camas’ defense forced a turnover on downs on a fourth-and-18.
Perhaps two of Camas’ game-decisive plays came after timeouts.
At one point, it converted four of five third-down plays and none was bigger than Clemmer’s 28-yard touchdown reception with 3:47 left in the third.
Asciutto rolled out and found Clemmer in the endzone in double coverage, only to have the senior go up and snag it with both hands, corralling the ball before hitting the turf.
Camas led 28-14.
And Forner, a senior all-league running back, who had two carries out of direct-snap plays: one for a 1-yard score and another on a fourth-and-1 first-down run that extended a Camas drive that ate precious time off the clock in the fourth quarter.
Eagle asked his offense what it wanted to do facing fourth-and-1 leading 28-14: punt or go for it?
Was there ever a doubt?
“He’s a great coach and he wants to hear input from us,” Asciutto said, who started his sixth game after taking over for the injured Jake Blair. “He learns from us; we learn so much from him. (The coaches) really want to win the state championship, but you don’t see coaches asking us what we think, and I think he’s a great coach for asking us.”
Forner said emotions began for the Papermakers as early as the locker room pregame. The Papermakers weren’t fazed by this stage, and not at any time during its Revenge Tour that lasted 14 games.
Its biggest revenge came Saturday night.
“We dreamed of this,” Forner said. “This hasn’t been just high school — this is everything. I see it now more as a blessing.”
CAMAS 35, BOTHELL 14
Camas 14 7 7 7–35
Bothell 0 7 7 0–14
C — Jacques Badolato-Birdsell 5 run (Bryce Leighton kick)
C — Tyler Forner 1 run (Leighton kick)
C — Badolato-Birdsell 48 run (Leighton kick)
B — Blake Bickhaus 6 pass from Andrew Simon (Charlie Shulkin kick)
B — Jordyn Turner 39 pass from Simon (Shulkin kick)
C — Jackson Clemmer 28 pass from Blake Asciutto (Leighton kick)
C — Badolato-Birdsell 3 run (Leighton kick)
RUSHING: Bothell — Christian Galvan 14-53, Talatai Tevaga 4-14, Andrew Sirmon 6-12; Camas — Jacques Badolato-Birdsell 34-207, Randy Yaacoub 3-7, Blake Aciutto 1-3, Tyler Forner 2-2.
PASSING: Bothell — Andrew Sirmon 15-33-1-208; Camas — Blake Asciutto 9-13-1-160.
RECEIVING: Bothell — Evan Berry 6-7, Jordan Turner 5-100, Christian Galvan 2-7, Mercer Nafe 1-16; Jackson Clemmer 4-76, Charlie Bump 2-51, Kenny Wright 2-27, Jackson Preston 1-6.