TACOMA – No more heartbreak for the Camas High School football team.
Instead, the top-ranked Papermakers finally broke through to the Class 4A state championship game — and in convincing fashion — with a 49-21 semifinal victory over Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome.
Senior quarterback Reilly Hennessey threw three first-half touchdowns to Zach Eagle en route to a 35-14 lead, and unbeaten Camas (13-0) never looked back.
The Papermakers play No. 5 Chiawana of Pasco (12-1) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome in a game between first-time finalists.
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Camas had lost in the semifinals the previous two seasons, first in 3A to O’Dea and then last season in 4A to Skyline, which went on to beat Bellarmine for a second straight title.
Enough was enough.
“To have finally taken care of business, I don’t have words for it,” said Hennessy, who threw for 267 of his 343 yards in the first half.
“It’s something I’ve dreamt of since I was yea big,” he added, putting his arm out waist high. “To fulfill it now is a dream come true.”
Eagle, son of coach Jon Eagle, caught 11 passes for 170 yards and Michael Digenova added six receptions for 134 yards. Nate Beasley keyed the rushing attack with 128 yards on 27 tires and one TD.
Hennessey had a hot hand early, completing his first eight passes, two for touchdowns, and Camas was unstoppable. In fact, the only Papermaker drive that didn’t result in points in the first half was the final one, when Caleb Lightbourn’s 40-yard field-goal try sailed wide.
Camas had 406 yards of total offense in the first half to Bellarmine’s 93 and finished with 581, letting up on the gas in the fourth quarter.
The Lions (10-3) had pulled come-from-behind victories in their previous two playoff games, eliminating KingCo challengers Newport and Bothell. But Camas would have none of that.
Bellarmine threatened three times in the third quarter and came away with nothing, one time trying a 51-yard field goal by Matt Philichi, who had hit back-to-back game-winners coming in. It was well short.
The Lions were then held on downs at or inside the Camas 20.
Camas got the first of its two second-half touchdown on a three-yard run by Jason Vailea, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound defensive lineman often called on in close-range situations. He also scored on a five-yard run in the first quarter.
Bellarmine quarterback Lou Millie completed 13 of 25 passes for 183 yards and two scores, including a 35-yarder to Garrett McKay with 27 seconds left in the game.
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