The Sumner High School football team was supposed to have all of the momentum.
Maybe not on the 21-yard touchdown pass to Tre Weed. But certainly when Ben Wilson intercepted a pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown two plays later, cutting Camas’ lead to three points and making this a game worthy of the 4A state semifinals.
“I was just hoping the QB wouldn’t catch me,” Wilson said. “Once I got to the end zone, it was just a relief. I knew that would shift the momentum.”
Only it didn’t.
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Second-ranked Camas scored 21 unanswered points from there to roll to a 45-21 victory against No. 3 Sumner on Saturday and advance to the Tacoma Dome for the 4A state championship game.
This will be the first year since 2007 that no South Sound school will play in the Tacoma Dome for a state title.
Coach Keith Ross said he believed Sumner’s lone loss last season — in the first round of the 3A state playoffs against Bishop Blanchet — was to an inferior team.
“I wasn’t going to have that problem with Camas,” Ross said.
Sumner fans packed the visitors’ section at McKenzie Stadium — in the first year since 1983 that the semifinals weren’t held in the Tacoma Dome. Camas fans packed an even larger home section.
The Spartans silenced that crowd when Wilson picked off a pass from Jack Colletto, the 4A Greater St. Helens League MVP, and returned it for a TD to cut Camas’ lead to 24-21. The Papermakers once led 24-7.
But no one on the Camas football team appeared fazed.
“It fazed me,” Camas coach Jon Eagle laughed.
He said the first thought that came to his mind was a state playoff loss to Bellarmine Prep two years ago.
“And that’s exactly what (Bellarmine Prep) did two years ago,” Eagle said. “I knew when I called that play, ‘I hope I don’t regret this.’ I knew that Wilson kid made some great pass drops. He’s a phenomenal player. And sure enough …”
However, the Papermakers followed with a 10-play, 63-yard touchdown drive, pounding the ball up the middle of Sumner’s vaunted defense, before ending it with Colletto’s 1-yard score.
Camas ran the ball on nine of the plays to take a 31-21 lead near the start of the fourth quarter.
Sumner’s Weed, who finished with 10 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 34 rushing yards, fumbled the ball on a catch on Sumner’s next possession
Camas recovered and ended the ensuing drive with Michael Matthews’ 8-yard TD run to make it 38-21.
But it was the touchdown drive following Sumner’s interception that was the backbreaker.
“They put together a state-championship kind of drive,” Ross said. “We needed to get a stop.”
“I think they just played harder, honestly,” Wilson said. “They just wanted it. Their O-line definitely shifted from huge to huge, strong and nasty. They’ve got bright things ahead of them.”
This didn’t look much like the Sumner team that entered this game with a 12-0 record.
The Spartans entered with 2,967 rushing yards for the season. Against Camas, the Spartans ran the ball 14 times for 52 yards.
Instead, Sumner turned to the air. Junior quarterback Luke Ross finished 21 of 40 passing for 258 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions — including a pick-six by Camas’ Luke Bruno that made it 24-7 in the third quarter.
Keith Ross said much of that had to do with Sumner missing University of Washington commit Connor Wedington, The News Tribune’s All-Area player of the year, at running back for the second consecutive game because of a separated shoulder. And because of Camas’ large defensive front and standout linebackers.
“So we thought we could attack them in the passing game,” Ross said.
It certainly caught Camas (13-0) by surprise.
“I did not expect that at all,” Eagle said. “But I was impressed. I thought their quarterback threw the ball fantastic. I told their offensive coordinator, ‘Boy, you sure had a great game plan.’ We had to do a lot of things we weren’t prepared for.”
But in the end, the Papermakers — who beat Graham-Kapowsin, 55-6, in the first round of state — were just too much.
“They are well-coached, and they have some kids who play hard,” Keith Ross said. “They were everything we thought they were going to be. But I’m proud of our team. We showed we can play with Camas and we belonged here.
“We wanted to play hard and take them deep into the game and see what would happen. We accomplished that. I couldn’t ask for more.”
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NO. 3 SUMNER
NO. 2 CAMAS
C – Michael Matthews 8 pass from Jack Colletto (Michael Boyle kick)
C – Matthews 5 run (Boyle kick)
S – Tre Weed 7 pass from Luke Ross (Nick Phillips kick)
C – Boyle 37 field goal
C – Luke Bruno 50 interception return (Boyle kick)
S – Weed 21 pass from Ross (Phillips kick)
S – Ben Wilson 41 interception return (Phillips kick)
C – Colletto 1 run (Boyle kick)
C – Matthews 8 run (Boyle kick)
C – Elias Bashir 1 run (Boyle kick)
RUSHING – Sumner: Tre Weed 6-34; Cameron Waterman 7-19. Camas: Michael Matthews 25-102; Jack Colletto 18-87.
PASSING – Sumner: Luke Ross 20-40-3-258; Tre Weed 0-1-0-0. Camas: Jack Colletto 14-25-1-156.
RECEIVING – Sumner: Tre Weed 10-160, Tyson Rainwater 7-61, Skyler Sandretzky 2-19, Cameron Waterman 2-18. Camas: Ryan Rushall 3-71, Drake Owen 3-22, Cooper McNatt 3-20.