TACOMA — The Bothell football team kept fighting to create a game-changing break.
But that big break never came.
Second-seeded Camas used a balanced attack on offense and derailed fifth-seeded Bothell, known as The Blue Train by its faithful, with a 35-14 victory to claim the school’s second state title on Saturday evening in the Class 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma High School.
Junior running back Jacques Badolato-Birdsell rambled for 215 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries as Camas finished the season 14-0. The Papermakers secured their second state crown in four years, also winning in 2016.
Bothell (11-3) couldn’t get its vaunted ground game going and fell behind 21-0 in the first half and never recovered. The Cougars, who won their lone title in 2014, were going for the school’s second state title in their fourth championship game appearance.
“They were a very disciplined team; you’ve got to give credit to them,” said Bothell senior Christian Galvan, who battled through an ankle injury the last half of the season and finished his final game as a Cougar with 52 yards on 14 carries. “They were well prepared, they’re physical up front and they fought hard. Overall, they won the day today.”
Bothell was limited to 81 yards rushing as Camas rolled up 226 yards on the ground and 386 yards overall. The Papermakers avenged losses to all five teams that beat them last season, including Bothell, a 36-35 winner in last season’s state preliminary round.
“Last year after that game, I couldn’t sleep straight,” said Badolato-Birdsell, who was thrown for a loss in last year’s defeat as Camas went for a two-point conversion and the win with 26 seconds remaining. “I was just thinking about that game. When December hit, we were in the weight room every day working. That loss motivated me this year.”
The biggest sting for Bothell was the careers ending for players such as Galvan, one of 17 seniors.
“When the clock hit zero, the freshest emotion was probably just straight-up sadness,” Galvan said. “But walking into this locker room and when I walk out of here, the freshest emotion is going to pride and just the feeling of being able to put on the blue jersey that says ‘Bothell’ across my chest.
“I’ve been playing with some of my best friends since I was 7 years old and it’s given me so much in the way of memories and I’ve learned so many lessons of life in this program.”
Bothell found a much-needed lift right before halftime to get on the scoreboard and trim the Camas lead to 21-7. Quarterback Andrew Sirmon capped a 10-play, 81-yard drive that consumed 4:18 with a 6-yard lob pass to a wide-open Blake Bickhaus in the left corner of the end zone with 56.5 seconds left in the first half.
The Cougars took the opening drive of the second half and drove 75 yards on eight plays to pull within 21-14. Jordyn Turner used his 6-foot-5 frame to haul in a 39-yard TD strike from Sirmon with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
“There wasn’t a single player on this team who didn’t fight,” Galvan said.
Jackson Clemmer, a towering 6-foot-6 receiver, made a falling backward grab in the back left corner of the end zone on a 28-yard pass from Blake Auscuitto for a touchdown with 3:47 left in the third quarter. That highlight-reel catch pushed Camas’ lead to 28-14.
Badolato-Birdsell crashed in from 3 yards out for his third TD of the game to hike the Camas lead to 35-14 with 2:44 left in the contest. The Papermakers took advantage of a short field after Bothell went for it on 4th-and-18 from its own 14-yard line, but threw an incomplete pass.
“(Camas) has been doing this all year,” Bothell coach Tom Bainter said. “Tips your hats to them. They were good. We hurt because we have goals, and we wanted to do it all. We also hurt, because we know this is the end.”