Jack Colletto ran for a 34-yard touchdown with less than three minutes remaining.
But nobody around the Camas High School football program figured this game was over, even with the Papermakers taking a 24-14 lead against Richland on Saturday night.
Not with Camas having lost on this Tacoma Dome field four years ago – when Chiawana scored 14 points in the final 55 seconds to stun the Papermakers in one of the most memorable 4A title games in state history.
But when Colletto then intercepted a pass with 1:01 remaining, it was finally done.
“It’s a Jack Colletto thing to do,” Camas running back and linebacker Michael Matthews said. “That’s all I can say. He’s got heart like no other.”
Colletto didn’t start one game at quarterback last season. And many questioned why the Papermakers (14-0) would choose to not only have him power into defenders with his bruising dual-threat style, but also start every snap as a safety on defense – injury risk to the wind.
But there Colletto was in the fourth quarter of the 4A state title, busting through a hole up the middle for a 34-yard score and then leaping for the game-sealing interception on Richland’s ensuing drive for Camas’ first state title in school history.
“We knew going in we were going to ride that pony,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said of Colletto.
“Last December I did an interview with him and I said, ‘Hey, where do you see yourself next year? What are your goals and what do you want to do?’ And he says, ‘It’s easy. I’m going to put this team on my back and I’m going to win a state title.’
“I said, ‘Well, I guess this interview is over.’”
Colletto completed 14 of 20 passes for 184 yards and had 19 carries for another 88 yards.
He was the backup quarterback all last season, but he did start as a safety.
“I knew eventually my time would come,” said Colletto, who was selected earlier this week as The News Tribune’s all-state player of the year. “I just had to focus on the two things I could control, which was my attitude and my effort.”
Richland (13-1) took a 14-10 lead when Parker McCary recovered a fumble from teammate Ben Stanfield in the end zone with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Camas didn’t regain the lead until Will Schultz broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run with 4:58 to play, putting Camas ahead 17-14.
Richland drove to the Camas 41, but a long incomplete pass from quarterback Paxton Stevens on third-and-14 forced the Bombers to punt.
Colletto then orchestrated the 70-yard touchdown drive, capping it when he and Matthews noticed Richland’s defense was flowing to wherever the back was sided.
So they suggested to run the other way.
“It just shows you as a coach if you listen long enough the kids might teach you something,” said Eagle, who embraced a Gatorade shower after handing off the state championship trophy to his team.
Stevens completed 15 of 25 passes for 175 yards for Richland, which reached the state semifinals for the second consecutive year. It held Camas to a season low 24 points.
But that just wasn’t enough.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Matthews, with a sea of Camas fans decked in red behind him. “First team in Camas history to win a state championship. It’s a lot to take in and it hasn’t really set in yet. It’s truly amazing.
“The fan support, the whole community – you couldn’t’ ask for a better place to grow up and play and win a state championship.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677