Going into a game against an opponent like the Camas Papermakers (4-0), Bellevue head coach Micahel Kneip knew there was no margin for error. Unfortunately for Kneip’s young Wolverines team (2-2), two mistakes in the first quarter proved costly in a 24-7 defeat to the Papermakers on Sept. 27.
The first mistake came on the opening kickoff, when the Papermakers took the opening kick 85-yards for a touchdown to put them up 7-0.
After the two teams traded punts, the Wolverines put together a good drive thanks to a long run from running back Joby Schneider. Bellevue moved the ball down to the Camas 3-yard line, but a fumbled handoff was recovered by Camas to keep them off the scoreboard. The Papermakers would make the Wolverines pay, putting together a 95-yard drive to double their lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Kneip said if they could have avoided those two mistakes, Bellevue could have been leading after the first quarter instead of trailing by 14.
“That’s a great football team,” Kneip said. “I love (Camas head coach Jon Eagle). I have so much respect for that guy. I hope when I’m older, I’m like that guy. I have so much respect for what they do. They make you beat them. You just can’t beat yourself.”
Late in the second quarter, Bellevue put together another good drive, including a crucial conversion on fourth-down-and-3 thanks to a 4-yard run from Schneider. Schneider would cap off the drive with a 33-yard touchdown run to pull the Wolverine back within seven. The Bellevue offense relied heavily on Schneider, who rushed for 189 yards in the losing effort.
In the third quarter, the Papermakers added a field goal to make it a two-possession game. Early in the fourth quarter, Camas running back Jacques Badolato-Birdsell scored a 6-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 24-7.
Looking to replicate their fourth-quarter comeback victory over Camas from last year, the Wolverines moved the ball into Camas territory. Facing a fourth-down-and-5, Bellevue took a costly false-start penalty to move them back five yards, making it a fourth-and-10 at the Camas 41. On the fourth-down attempt, quarterback Bryson Sleeper was sacked giving Camas the ball at midfield with 6:30 to go in the game.
Bellevue managed to force a Camas fumble, but time ran out, giving Camas a 24-7 win and handing the Wolverines their second loss of the season. Kneip said the Papermakers were well-disciplined and there is very little margin for error against a team so well coached.
“They are probably the best football team in the state,” Kneip said. “They’re not the most talented, but they’re the best football team in the state and the best-coached team in the state. That’s who you want to be like.”
Bellevue running back Alex Reid said the team shot itself in the foot with those first-quarter mistakes, something that is uncharacteristic from a Bellevue football team.
“Maybe (Camas) had the size and they were more athletic,” Reid said. “But we were there and we had to make the plays but we didn’t make them tonight. We will definitely look back at the film and see what we did wrong and come into the regular season games fired up. A loss like this really makes the team mad.”
The Wolverines enter league play against Lake Washington (0-4) at home at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4.
“The league is going to be really hard,” Kneip said. “Lake Washington is a really good football team. Liberty and Mercer Island are really good football teams. We just have to keep on getting better, and the good thing about young guys is that they should be getting better every week. Hopefully we can just take that next step.”
The loss to Camas will provide the Bellevue players and coaches with plenty of motivation as they begin the regular season. Reid said losing a game at home is never easy to take.