The Oakland High Oakers and the Camas Valley Hornets are state football champions.
They pulled off a two-peat Saturday. It just took them almost 50 years to accomplish the feat. That’s because back in 1964, the same two schools also won their respective state title games, Oakland defeating Umatilla and Camas upending Weston.
Now fast forward to Saturday. Camas Valley completed its second consecutive perfect season in the afternoon with a 24-8 triumph over St. Paul on the Cottage Grove High gridiron to claim the Class 1A title. That evening, Oakland captured the 2A crown with a 50-27 triumph over Portland Christian at Hillsboro Stadium.
Both teams had plenty of fan support.
“I’m a little hoarse, but we’re a bunch of happy fans,” said Sandra Henry, whose nephews David Henry and Ian Patt play for Oakland. “We’re very, very pleased to walk out with the first-place hardware. There’s a lot of great big smiles on those boys’ faces.”
Oakland athletic director Jeff Clark estimated that 800 to 1,000 people from the Oakland and surrounding areas made the trip.
“Everybody is excited and proud of the season they had,” he said of the Oakers. “They never let success go to their heads. They focused on their main goal and it was pretty exciting to see them achieve it. It was amazing to see the community rally around the team.”
The same can be said for the Camas players and fans.
“The fans were loud and encouraging,” said Kirsten Wolfe of the Camas supporters who made the drive north. She is the wife of Hornet coach Eli Wolfe and the mother of two players. “It always picks the boys up when they hear their fans. This has been the players’ vision since last year at this time and it’s neat to have their vision fulfilled.”
Both communities gave their teams quite a send off for their respective title games. A team dinner was held in the school gymnasium at Camas Valley Friday evening, but the team invited the community for the potluck event. About 100 people attended.
Then at 8:30 Saturday morning, when the team bus left the school, fans with signs lined Highway 42 to cheer the Hornets on. More fans cheered the team from the sidewalks of Winston as the bus passed through that town. Supportive comments were also written on car windows that accompanied the bus.
“We’re all one big family,” said John Fisher, a 1974 Camas graduate who played football for the Hornets and continues to follow the team. “It was a great game to watch. Our kids played with heart.”
Byron Peck, the father of Hornet lineman Lanakila Peck, said the team was “very focused.” The 2010 Hornets had lost in the 1A title game to St. Paul, 22-8, and they had been targeting a rematch with the Buckaroos ever since.
“This is a great team with players that had bonded,” said Byron Peck. “It has a great attitude from the seniors down to the freshmen. It starts with the coaches and families at home.”
Kirsten Wolfe said she had no doubts.
“The boys rely on each other and believe in each other enough that they knew if they played the game the way they know how to play, they had the skills, talent and heart to win today’s game,” she said. “They celebrated by embracing their family, community and friends.”
Oakland sent its team off with a biscuit and gravy breakfast Saturday morning in the school’s cafeteria. In addition to this year’s team, the event was highlighted by the presence of seven players and an assistant coach from the Oakers’ 1964 championship team. They took turns saying a few words to the 2012 players.
“They gave them a pep talk,” said Shawn Henry, the mother of player David Henry. “They said you have to give 110 percent if you want to be state champions. The boys loved it. It really motivated them.”
A parade through town followed, sending the team bus off with plenty of cheering and support.
“We knew they could do it,” said Sandra Henry. “Now they’ve shown the rest of the state they could do it.
“This is a team with a lot of talent, a lot of depth and a team that truly functions as a team,” she added. “It takes a team to play football and that’s truly what Oakland is. It’s a beautiful end to a season.”
Both the Oakers and the Hornets and their respective communities have reason to feel that way.
• News-Review Features Editor Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.