CAMAS — It was the trip South Kitsap wanted to avoid.
And for good reason.
For the third time in seven seasons, South Kitsap traveled without success to Southwest Washington to play a Greater Saint Helens League opponent in the 4A state play-in game. This time it was a 43-12 season-ending loss at undefeated Camas.
The game did not even feel as close as the score indicated. The Wolves, who finished with a 6-4 record for a second consecutive season, saw their first two offensive possessions give way to a 9-0 lead for the Papermakers.
One play after South senior quarterback Kevin Whatley was intercepted by Zach Eagle, Nate Beasley scored on a 33-yard run. Camas (10-0), which advances to play Arlington, scored again two plays later when senior running back Adam Gascoyne was tackled in the end zone after receiving a pitch.
But as effectively as the Papermakers moved the ball — they produced 507 yards of total offense — coach Jon Eagle was more satisfied by his team’s defensive effort. He said he was impressed with the Wolves’ ability to run the ball and had his team work to slow South during practices leading up to the contest. The Wolves finished with just five rushing yards.
“Our defense continually gave us the ball at midfield,” Eagle said. “I don’t care who you’re playing, if you get the ball continuously at midfield it’s tough to stop people.”
South senior fullback Bryce Broome agreed.
“The defense was phenomenal,” he said. “They fly to the ball.”
That effort helped Camas, which uses a hurry-up offense, run 51 offensive plays during the first half. The Papermakers scored four second-quarter touchdowns when John Norcross and Beasley scored on 1- and 9-yard runs. Quarterback Reilly Hennessey, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns, then found Eagle and Jorden Payne for 38- and 16-yard touchdown passes to extended Camas’ lead to 36-0 at halftime.
The Papermakers, who amassed 337 yards of total offense during the first half, extended their lead to 43-0 just two plays into the second half on a 61-yard touchdown run by Beasley. That was enough to start the running mercy clock, which begins when a team builds a 40-point advantage, and Camas ran the ball on the majority of downs for the duration of the game.
“They’re a classy act,” Canton said. “They do it the way it’s supposed to be done.”
With no chance to mount a comeback, Canton looked to give some of his younger players experience. His son, Cooper, entered the game and threw touchdown passes to seniors Nick Stoner and Tom Simpson.
“We had to open it up and spread it out a bit to see what we could do,” Eric Canton said. “It worked out OK.”
The outcome did not frustrate Canton as much as the path that got the Wolves there. South could have avoided the four-hour drive by defeating Olympia at home. The Bears won that game 15-14 on Sept. 28 to earn third place in 4A Narrows and a trip to Auburn, where they lost 41-38.
The Wolves also had an opportunity to earn their league’s second seed, which would have resulted in them hosting a playoff game, but lost 21-14 on Oct. 26 at Central Kitsap. That relegated them to Southwest Washington, where they previously lost in 2006 and ’08 against Skyview at Vancouver’s Kiggins Bowl.
“We had our chance with CK to make up for that,” Broome said.
But he and Canton both agreed that South had a good season.
“It still is a special year,” Canton said. “They played every minute of every game as hard as they can. You can’t ask for any more.”
At Camas 43, South Kitsap 12
South Kitsap 0 0 6 6 — 12
Camas 9 25 7 0 — 43
C-Nate Beasley 33 run (Roldan Alcobendas kick)
C-John Norcross 1 run (pass failed)
C-Beasley 9 run (Alcobendas kick)
C-Zach Eagle 38 pass from Reilly Hennessey (Alcobendas kick)
C-Jorden Payne 16 pass from Hennessey (Alcobendas kick)
C-Beasley 61 run (Alcobendas kick)
SK-Nick Stoner 23 pass from Cooper Canton (pass failed)
SK-Tom Simpson 23 pass from Canton (pass failed)
Passing-Kevin Whatley (SK) 2-10-2-12, Cooper Canton (SK) 9-12-1-123, Reilly Hennessey (C) 18-25-0-226, Jake Peebles (C) 1-1-0-0.
Rushing-Adam Gascoyne (SK) 3-10, Marshaud DeWalt (SK) 3-10, Li’i Kalima (SK) 2-4, Bryce Broome (SK) 7-5, Whatley (SK) 6--12, Canton (SK) 2--12, Nate Beasley (C) 16-79, Vincente Huber (C) 11-36, John Norcross (C) 1-2, Jorden Payne (C) 1-7, Cole Zarcone (C) 5-8, Hennessey (C) 3-6, Brian Kelly (C) 4-43.
Receiving-Gascoyne (SK) 1-12, Illya Tsveytkov (SK) 1-0, Tom Simpson (SK) 4-77, Nic Stoner (SK) 2-35, Whatley (SK) 3-43, Zach Eagle (C) 9-118, Huber (C) 2-24, Connor Maloney (C) 1-18, Beasley (C) 3-23, Norcross (C) 2-27, Payne (C) 1-16, Nick Napier (C) 1-0.