CAMAS — One team is an upstart program only five years old; the other, a program with a decorated recent history of postseason success.
North Creek and Camas offered a striking contrast in Saturday’s Class 4A state preliminary round game at Doc Harris Stadium.
Yet the biggest difference was the Jaguars’ physical play, which stymied the Papermakers’ high-flying offense and controlled the clock in the final quarter of a 31-14 win.
North Creek, a school that opened five years ago in Bothell, advanced to the 4A state playoffs in just the team’s third postseason appearance overall. Camas, the 4A Greater St. Helens League champion, missed the state’s final 16 for the first time since 2018.
“Their physicality showed up on film. It basically boiled down to, they were more physical,” Camas head coach Jack Hathaway said. “They’re really active up front and well-coached, so hats go off to them, playing in a tough (4A King Conference) and coming down here and beating us.”
The Papermakers never led in the game after falling behind 7-0 on a Logan Fialdini 3-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter.
They moved the ball efficiently on their next drive when quarterback Taylor Ioane connected with four different receivers to gain a combined 73 yards in four plays, but the drive ended with four straight runs getting stuffed inside the 5-yard line.
The sequence epitomized the Papermakers’ day.
Two plays later, Trenton Swanson recovered a North Creek fumble to set up a Camas game-tying touchdown, a 6-yard strike from Ioane to Konnor Limnell.
But the Jaguars had the last say in the half by going ahead 14-7 on Fialdini’s second touchdown, a 1-yard plunge with two seconds left on the clock.
Making matters worse for the Papermakers, an interception into the hands of North Creek’s Brock Fleming in the third quarter led to a 5-yard Stephen Woodward touchdown from Luc Naldrett, putting the Jaguars ahead 21-7.
“It wasn’t our best game,” Hathaway said. “It wasn’t our best version of us. You look back and there’s things we could’ve done different, there’s things that I could’ve done different and I know we all have to look in the mirror and face those.”
In the fourth quarter, Camas faced a 24-14 deficit after trading a North Creek field goal with a Holt Williams 2-yard touchdown catch from Ioane.
The Papermakers moved across midfield, only to be undone by a low snap that resulted in a 15-yard loss. Camas turned the ball over on downs with 7:37 left, and North Creek effectively sealed the win by turning to its ground game — Fialdini and Peyton Cunningham — to run down the clock.
“It’s always a tough day to lose the final game,” Hathaway said. “You’re never prepared for it, you always think you can win. We just didn’t play our best game, and they played great. Hats off to them.”
The Papermakers will graduate 18 seniors, a relatively small number compared to recent years, but nonetheless, a group characterized as “grinders” who left an impact on the program.
“It’s an impressive group, a small group, but fun to watch play and grow up in this program,” Hathaway said. “We’re going to miss them.
“They’re just fun to be around. I like going to work every day and working with them.”
NORTH CREEK 31, CAMAS 14
N. Creek 0 14 10 7—31
Camas 0 7 7 0—14
NC — Logan Fialdini 3 run (Octavio Gonzalez kick)
C — Konnor Limnell 5 pass from Taylor Ioane (Ethan Ouchi kick)
NC — Logan Fialdini 1 run (Gonzalez kick)
NC — Stephen Woodward 6 pass from Luc Naldrett (Gonzalez kick)
C — Holt Williams 2 pass from Ioane (Ouchi kick)
NC — Gonzalez 28 field goal
NC — Andrew Goff 1 run (Gonzalez kick)
RUSHING — North Creek: Logan Fialdini 25-94, Peyton Cunningham 12-55, Naldrett 4-8, Goff 1-1, Woodward 1-0, Riley Elvidge 1-(minus 7). Camas: Reid Tennant 14-54, Titan Brody 9-17, Ioane 4-27.
PASSING — North Creek: Naldrett 16-26-0-168. Camas: 18-28-2-167.
RECEIVING — North Creek: Declan Adams 5-72, Woodward 4-34, Elvidge 3-37, Georgie Devekos 2-14, Cunningham 2-11. Camas: Trenton Swanson 4-41, Limnell 4-34, Zach Blair 3-28, Sam Stark 2-46, Bradley Prouse 1-9, Nikko Speer 1-7, Williams 1-2, Easton McCarty 1-2, Tennant 1-(minus 2).