Day After Report: Week 12

It was fun for the Camas crowd. The Papermakers took a first-quarter lead.

It was fantastic for Camas. The Papermakers had four leads in the game.

It was frustrating for Camas. The Papermakers did not hold those leads.

But you know what? I’m going back to fantastic, as in fantastic season. Camas’ football season ended Friday night at Doc Harris Stadium after the Lakes Lancers gambled on a fourth-and-goal play and scored a touchdown for a 27-24 overtime victory in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

Here are some notes, some good for Camas, some frustrating. But by the end of this report, keep in mind the fantastic stuff: The Papermakers won 11 games. They won a state playoff game for the first time in school history. Without their starting quarterback and starting running back in the lineup, they were one play away from advancing to the semifinals. Congrats, Camas, on the fine season.


Frustrating OT for Papermakers:
Camas got the ball first in overtime and immediately picked up six yards on its first play, a run from Addison Owen. But the next play was stuffed for no gain, and then there was an incomplete pass.

The Papermakers decided to try a 36-yard field goal. Roldan Alcobendas drilled it for a 24-21 lead. (More on Alcobendas later in this report.)

Of course, Camas would have preferred a touchdown, but it was another lead, another chance for the defense to hold off the Lancers. Then, yeah, it got frustrating.

Actually, it started fine for Camas. Brent Hill made a tackle for a 3-yard loss, putting the Lancers in a second-and-13 hole from the 28-yard line. But Levonte Littlejohn would pick up 10 yards on his next two carries, setting up a fourth-and-3 from the 18. In a formation that was rarely, if ever, used in the game, Littlejohn broke free for a 15-yard gain for a first down on the 3-yard line.

Once again, the Camas defense stood up to the challenge for three plays. A couple of 1-yard gains got the Lancers to the 1-yard line, but a false start penalty pushed back Lakes. The third-down play got the ball to the 5-yard line. 

And that’s when Lakes went all-in. No field goal try to push the game into a second OT. All-or-nothing. The formation had the Papermakers believing the play would go left. The Lancers went right, with blockers outnumbering defenders. Littlejohn had little trouble finding the end zone for a 27-24 victory.

Camas coach Jon Eagle called it a classic high school football game, with ups and downs, overtime in the playoffs, a fantastic atmosphere within the stadium.

Littlejohn agreed, praising Camas’ crowd, the band, and the Camas players themselves for such a quality contest.

“The whole game, my heart was pounding,” Littlejohn said. “I couldn’t hear nothing.”

Interview decisions after a tough, season-ending loss:
There is no easy way to ask athletes questions after such a gut-wrenching defeat. I always remain respectful, and I’m always aware of what they are going through moments after a loss. For me, it is a fight against giving athletes time to get a handle on their emotions vs. deadline. And I try to error on the side of the athletes. I don’t NEED an athlete to comment to write my story. I just know the story is better if one, two, or three of them can articulate their emotions. After making eye contact, I usually can determine whether or not it is time to approach.

I look for seniors first, because usually those are the team leaders. They also are the ones who can put in perspective what it has meant for them to finish their careers for their schools.

I am always prepared for a “No comment,” or a “Thanks, but I don’t feel like talking.” That has happened a few times in my career. And then I move on, hoping to find another.

Friday night, Odin Coe, David Anderson, and Jeremy Faulkner gave heart-felt messages of love, for their teammates, their school, their sport. Appreciate it, guys.

I also wanted to talk to Addison Owen. I never approached him, though, because he did not appear ready to talk.

Addison, if you are reading this, please don’t think I was ignoring you. It just didn’t seem like the right time to talk. One day, though, even in just an off-the-record casual conversation, I would love to know your feelings on your final high school football game. Why? Because you were incredible, my friend. …

Awesome Addison:
Addison Owen is one of those quality athletes that can be strong in any position. Over the summer, he was working on becoming the featured running back for the Papermakers. Then Zack Marshall broke out to fill that role, allowing Owen back to his natural position as a receiver. (Owen also is a superb defensive back.)

But when Marshall went down with an injury early in Week 11, Owen got the call. He scored a touchdown against Juanita, but otherwise was held in check in the 20-13 victory.

Well, with a week of practice, and a couple runs against Lakes, Owen was simply awesome.

He picked up nine yards on his third carry of the game, and it was like he proved to himself that he could do this job. His next attempt was good for 19 yards. The coaches kept giving him the ball, and he kept moving the ball forward.

He ended up with 30 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown. He also had four catches for 27 more yards.

For the teams that make the state playoffs, only one can finish the season with a victory. That makes for a lot of initial heartache. Days later, though, here is hoping that the players all celebrate their accomplishments.

For the Papermakers, they went down in an overtime thriller in the elite eight. That’s leaving it all on the field. Addison Owen epitomized that effort.

Not a good view for Grindy:
For the third consecutive week, Camas quarterback Logan Grindy watched from the sidelines. The three-year starter suffered a broken leg in the Week 9 victory over Kelso to clinch the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League title.

“Very tough to watch, just knowing you can be in there, trying to make a difference,” Grindy said. 

His replacement, Tony Gennaro, played well in three games, winning two playoff games. But all associated with the Papermakers would tell you this was Grindy’s team. Grindy led Camas to the playoffs in all three of his campaigns.

“It was pretty awesome,” he said of his high school career. “I’m going to miss it a lot. It’s been a big part of my life.”

Gennaro shines again:
Speaking of the back-up-turned-playoff starter, Tony Gennaro put up good numbers once again. No, he was not perfect, but who is? In a playoff game against a team that has reached the state playoffs 13 of the past 14 years and the semifinals the past two years — make that three now — Gennaro had a strong outing. 

He completed 17 of 25 passes for 167 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also had nine carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. A junior, Gennaro picked up plenty of experience that should help him prepare for next season.

A kicker’s pain:
Roldan Alcobendas is probably kicking himself for the 26-yard field goal he missed with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter. I hope he is thinking more about the 36-yarder he made in overtime.

Of course, athletes, competitors in any sport, often lament on the what-ifs. 

Here is something to think about, Roldan. If you had made that fourth-quarter kick, there is no guarantee that Camas would have won the game.

It is a common fallacy for sports fans to think if only that play had been made, the game would have won. Not true. Unless it’s the actual final play of the game, everything after a what-if play would be different.

If Alcobendas made the fourth-quarter field goal, it is doubtful Lakes would have started at its 20-yard line. There would have been a kickoff. Maybe a longer return. The Lancers, who advanced the ball to the Camas 11-yard line before their own missed field goal, would have called different plays if they were trailing by three points. They later proved, when they were behind by three in overtime, that they did not want to try a short field goal to tie the game. Perhaps the Lancers only went for a field goal in regulation because it was tied. If they were behind, maybe they would have gambled then. The point is, it is impossible to say what would have happened if Camas had made that field goal.

So I am hoping Roldan Alcobendas remembers that, even after missing that attempt in regulation, just a few minutes later, in overtime, his coaches and teammates had faith in him to try an even longer field goal. And I am hoping he remembers splitting the uprights with that 36-yard, clutch kick, giving the Papermakers a lead in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

Closer than close:
You know me, the stat geek. This was my 10th season of high school football for The Columbian. Plus I worked two seasons in Roseburg, Ore., and three seasons in Eastern Oregon. And in Friday’s game, for the first time in all of those years, I had a first-half tie on the scoreboard and in yards from scrimmage.

The game was tied at 14 and both teams had 187 yards from scrimmage.

Camas had 112 yards passing and 75 yards rushing at halftime. Lakes had 179 yards rushing and 8 yards passing at the break.

I was interviewed at halftime for an interview broadcast, and I was asked my thoughts about the first half. I said it was close. (Yeah, compelling stuff, huh?)

But when I say close, I mean it. 187-187. I triple-checked my numbers to make sure.

The stats stayed close the whole game, which figured. The game was tied at 7, 14, and 21.

In the end, Lakes had 439 yards from scrimmage, 436 on the ground. After re-checking my stat sheet, Lavonte Littlejohn, credited with 260 yards in my game story, actually had 258. Quarterback Cedric Dozier, credited with 152 in the story, had 154.

Camas finished with 389 yards of offense, 167 passing, 222 rushing. 

The new Doc Harris Stadium experience: 
How about this season for the first one in the new Doc Harris Stadium. Camas won its first 11 games of the season, including seven in the new digs. The stadium hosted three playoff games, including the first win for Camas football in the state playoffs.

But a stadium is just a building without a crowd. With a crowd, a stadium can come alive. 

Camas senior Odin Coe was appreciative of the support. Especially in this final game.

“The fans were great. They stayed in it the whole time,” Coe said. “Our defense, we got a few plays break against us. Our fans were back in it for us. I owe a lot to them for keeping us in the game.”

Football season is over for Clark County:
This is the saddest day of the year. Wish it could have lasted until December. We love football.

The good news: Only 270 days until Aug. 17, 2011, the presumptive start of football practice. Or roughly 6,480 hours.

Thanks for reading. As noted in a recent column, I hope to compile notes for basketball season, as well, for a weekly roundup. It likely will not be as detailed as the Football Day After Report, but I am welcome to suggestions from readers. E-mail me at

Thanks again,
Paul Valencia

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