Jon Eagle has enjoyed the past four years coaching his son, Zach.
Together, they’ve helped Camas High reach the 4A state semifinals three times. But after Saturday’s 49-21 victory against Bellarmine Prep, father, son and the Papermakers will finally compete for a state title.
Jon hugged his wife, then searched for Zach in the Camas huddle on the field afterward. He finally found him, and it’s a moment he said he doesn’t plan to forget.
“Sometimes you have to be a coach, but sometimes you have to be a dad,” Jon said. “That time, I wanted to be a dad.”
Zach certainly earned the hug. He caught 11 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. His quarterback, Reilly Hennessey, threw for 343 yards as top-ranked Camas (13-0) piled up 581 yards of offense against the Bellarmine defense.
“I just wanted to get to a state championship game, not just for myself but for my team,” Zach said. “To do it with my dad feels great.”
Bellarmine Prep (10-3) has played more playoff thrillers than any team this season. The Lions’ past five state playoff victories, dating back to their runner-up season last year, were by an average of 3.2 points. Kicker Matthew Philichi kicked two game-clinching field goals the past two games, including one in last week’s overtime victory against Bothell.
But Bellarmine hadn’t played a team as dynamic or starved for a title berth as the Papermakers.
Camas rolled in the first half, scoring on each of its five drives. The Papermakers had 49 plays for 406 yards in the first half as the Lions ran 21 plays for 93 yards.
They took a 14-0 lead on its first two drives, but Bellarmine responded with a 66-yard drive to pull to within seven.
Camas scored two more times, but after Drew Griffin’s 79-yard kickoff return set up a rushing TD from Ahmad Lewis, the Lions looked like they might have some more 21-point comeback magic in them.
A stop the next possession would have been huge. They forced four third downs, but Camas converted all – including a third-and-8 swing pass that Zach Eagle took 41 yards for his third TD.
“It’s something difficult to prepare for all the weapons they have,” said Bellarmine coach Tom Larsen. “They have a great ability to exploit teams and that happened to us a few times.”
Now, after two consecutive trips to the 4A state semifinals only to lose to O’Dea and Skyline, the Papermakers will face Chiawana for the championship.
“It’s a dream come true,” Jon Eagle said. “We’ve dreamed about this for 10 years. It’s such a great opportunity.
“I know people in Tacoma and Seattle don’t respect us, but hey, if I’m correct, the state championship game doesn’t involve anybody from Tacoma or Seattle. Imagine that.”