Day After Report: Camas 49, Battle Ground 28

We knew once league play began in the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League that every week would have at least one crucial game. That’s what happens in a five-team league, a five-team league that will only qualify two to the playoffs.
Week 5 of the high school football season featured two top-10 ranked teams in the state. As you know by now, Camas cruised to a 49-28 victory. The Papermakers don’t lose league games, right? Well, not since 2009 anyway.
As far as the Tigers, they have to be feeling down for not being able to slow down the Camas offense. But at the same time, there are some positives. They proved they could move the ball against a very good defense. If Camas is the best defense in the league, then Battle Ground knows it will be able to move the ball against anyone.

Next week: Camas takes on Skyview in a rematch of their epic state playoff game from last November. Battle Ground will host Union. … See? All these games are crucial.

The 1,000-yard game: I’ve seen a few games in recent years when the two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense. Not coincidentally, those games have involved been Battle Ground.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, this one wasn’t one of those up-and-down, anybody-can-win 1,000-yard games.
Oh sure, when the game kicked off it was anybody’s game. Battle Ground even quickly took the lead. But four Camas touchdowns later and the Tigers were in trouble.
Still, with their offense, they had a chance. Indeed, the Tigers scored next to make it 28-14 early in the second quarter.
The Papermakers were having none of it, though. They got the next two scores for the big halftime lead.
In the end, though, Battle Ground did outgain the Papermakers in offense, 537 yards to 523.

Gunner Talkington earned these yards: The game story noted the great play by Camas quarterback Jack Colletto. Seven TD passes! 399 yards! But we’d be remiss without noting Gunner Talkington’s game again.
The senior quarterback from Battle Ground threw for 306 yards, completing 31 of 44 passes without an interception, and he rushed for 108 yards on 22 attempts.

Missing out on a few chances: The way the game started — both teams scoring with what seemed like ease on their first possessions — it looked like it would be a matter of playing keep up. Almost like the first team that doesn’t score would lose.
Well, the Camas defense was up to the challenge on Battle Ground’s second drive. The Tigers punted. Camas scored and the Papermakers were on their way. Late in the first half, trailing 35-14, the Tigers picked up four first downs to get into the red zone. A touchdown here could have changed the momentum. The Tigers got as far as theĀ  Camas 11-yard line. But an incomplete pass on fourth down gave the ball to the Papermakers. They went 89 yards on five plays to make it 42-14.
The Tigers also missed a fourth-and-short early in the third quarter. An offensive pass interference call took away a first down on another drive, leading to a punt. And an illegal formation penalty negated a touchdown.

The Papermakers praised the Tigers by preparing for a quality team: Camas has now won 35 consecutive league games and 46 consecutive regular-season games. But they prepare as if they know those streaks could end any week. Colletto said this team takes practice seriously.
Wide receiver Cooper McNatt added that he and his teammates knew Battle Ground’s potential.”The key is to respect their strengths and how good they are,” McNatt said. “We gotta respect them and everyone has to do their job.”

Rushall’s drive: Colletto completed his 19 passes to four receivers. Three of them scored touchdowns. Ryan Rushall did not.
But Ryan Rushall certainly played a huge role in the touchdown drive that sealed the victory.
The Papermakers started at their own 11-yard line with 3:22 to play in the first half. It was a blowout 75 seconds later.
Rushall made a diving catch on the first play of the drive, getting the Papermakers started with an 11-yard gain. After an 11-yard run by Will Schultz, Colletto found Rushall again, but this time for 47 yards. On the next play, Colletto escaped pressure, and Rushall did what receivers are supposed to do when they see their quarterback in trouble: He found an open space on the field. Colletto delivered the ball. Rushall made an excellent catch, falling out of bounds but dragging a foot for a seven-yard gain.
Next play, touchdown Camas. The pass didn’t go to Rushall, but his teammates know he should get a lot of credit for that score.

Thinking long term: While Camas defensive coaches and players might not be thrilled with giving up more than 500 yards, it was still a league win against a quality opponent. It also was a game that the Camas starters and primary back-ups had to play all night.
Linebacker Michael Matthews said that will only make the Papermakers better.
“It’s good for our guys to stay out there all four quarters,” Matthews said. “That’s going to pay off big time in the long run.”He noted that come playoff time, even if the offense is rolling, opponents will try to test the defense. Learning in Week 5, he said, should help in Weeks 10, 11, 12 and perhaps beyond.

Differing points of view: While some Battle Ground Tigers said all the right things, that this was just one of four league games, that this was one of nine regular-season games, we know it was one of the biggest games in recent Battle Ground football history. They had cracked the top 10. They believed they had a shot.
On the other side of the field, the Camas Papermakers are used to all these big games. They’ve been in this position for years. The team with the target. Everyone’s coming after them.
“We can’t make it bigger than it really is,” Colletto said. “It’s just another step. We have to do our thing regardless of the circumstances.”

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