A return trip to the Tacoma Dome seemed to be a tall task for Bellarmine Prep early in the season, considering the talent and experience that had graduated. The Lions bucked that notion and rattled off two dramatic playoff wins to make it to the semifinals, but No. 1 Camas then came knocking. The Papermakers struck early and often, putting up 581 yards on the way to eliminating the Lions with a 49-21 win in the 4A state semifinals on Nov. 30.
Camas struck for touchdowns on their first five possessions in the first half, as quarterback Reilly Hennessey connected with Zach Eagle for scores of 10 and 11 yards to make it 14-0 less than five minutes into the game. Hennessey finished 21-for-32 for 343 yards and three touchdowns, while Eagle hauled in 11 catches for 170 yards and three scores in the game.
“We had some breakdowns, obviously,” said Bellarmine Prep head coach Tom Larsen. “Their quarterback is pretty amazing. It’s tough to stop when you’re not covering as well as you could. That’s the big deal.”
Lions quarterback Lou Millie helped get Bellarmine on the board with 4:07 in the first quarter, connecting with Garrett McKay for a 10-yard touchdown to cut it to 14-7. But the Papermakers extended the lead to 28-7 early in the second quarter with short touchdown runs from Jason Vailea and Nate Beasley. Drew Griffin answered for Bellarmine Prep, returning the kickoff 79 yards to set up Ahmad Lewis’ 2-yard touchdown plunge. But Hennessey connected with Eagle again, this time for a 41-yard catch-and-run, to make it 35-14 at the half. The Lions got no closer, as Vailea added a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Cole Zarcone scored from nine yards out to make it 49-14 late in the fourth.
McKay, who finished with five catches for 89 yards, scored on a 35-yard pass from Millie with 27 seconds left in the game to cap the scoring. Millie finished 13-for-25 for 183 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, while Nathan Goltermann had 12 carries for 38 yards and added four catches for 61 yards. Brandon Thompson had 9.5 tackles for the Lions, while Tyler Lee added eight tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Larsen added that, after scoring 17 points in the final four minutes to top Newport and securing a 20-17 overtime win the prior weekend against Bothell, the Lions still should be happy with what they accomplished.
“This senior group (is) kind of the cardiac kids that would never give up,” Larsen said. “I’m just awfully proud of them and what they did. The big thing is they went beyond expectations. That’s all we ask…set the bar high and keep striving for it, and they did.”
Bellarmine finished with a 10-3 overall record, having gone 5-1 in the Narrows 4A to win their third straight league title.