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Central Catholic football downed Camas behind scores from all three phases of the game.

JAIME VALDEZ/PORTLAND TRIBUNE - Central Catholic High School football's Solomon McDaniel, center, runs in a touchdown against Camas on an interception return Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City.A battle of defending champions took place at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City on Friday night, Sept. 3.

The first week of the high school football season in Oregon saw 2019 and still technically defending 6A champions Central Catholic play "host" to Camas High School, Washington's 4A 2019 and still defending champions, the state's highest classification.

The game turned into a defensive struggle in the first half, but the boys from Portland took home the inter-state bragging rights with a 28-17 victory.

Here are three takeaways from the Rams' opening night win:

Scoring from other areas

There might be no better way for a team to start its season than with an opening kickoff touchdown, and that's exactly what Stryder Todd-Fields did for 6A preseason No. 1 Central Catholic.

He took the kickoff nearly the full length of the field to paydirt. Later in the second quarter, the Rams defense got in on the fun.

Oregon commit Emar'rion Winston deflected a pass that fell into the hands of Solomon McDaniels for a near 30-yard pick-six.

"That's the type of plays special players make. (Winston) was in that quarterback's face all night long," Central Catholic coach Steve Pyne said. "Heck of a play by a Solomon to see that ball up in the air and pick it off and go. Now Solomon is probably going to want to be a running back or a tight end the rest of his life."

While the offense picked it up in the second half to the tune of 14 points, Pyne was happy to see his other units get a scoring celebration.

"We've been challenging our guys to start fast … notoriously our program for whatever reason has not been fast starting. Well, you don't get much faster starting then a kickoff return for a touchdown," Pyne said.

It wasn't all pretty, though, for the defensive and special teams unit. The Rams lost three fumbles on punts, giving the Papermakers a short field each time, but the defense held them to only 10 points on those miscues.

Camas scored two touchdowns in the game, both from Luke Jamison on short runs to help keep things interesting.

While the Rams walked away with the victory, if it wasn't for the fast start, those special teams miscues, plus over 100 yards in penalty yardage, would have been the glaring difference.

About that offense ...

Penalties killed numerous drives for the Rams in the first half, but fewer flags in the second half led to a couple offensive touchdowns.

Todd-Fields was on the receiving end of a 73-yard score thrown by sophomore starting QB Cru Newman, who finished with 200 yards passing on a 9-for-16 night.

The second touchdown came on a 26-yard strike from Newman to a sliding senior Jordan King in the left of the end zone.

Seeing the offense come out stronger and finishing drives is what Pyne enjoyed the most about his team's opening night win.

"It took us a while to settle in offensively and kind of adjust," Pyne said. "Those kind of adjustments are a part of the game and I credit my staff for coming up with those things."

Todd-Fields finished the night with the kickoff return, a 73-yard TD reception and almost a punt return TD as well, but it was called back due to a block in the back penalty.

As for the new man under center, Pyne was pleased to see the sophomore Newman handle himself well against a Camas team that is notorious for beating up on Oregon teams.

"Obviously he had the two fumbles," Pyne said when assessing his QB. "But, to see the plays he kept alive multiple times, the ball he threw to Stryder, the ball he threw to Jordan in the corner, I mean, he's got some really good skills. He's got to be more consistent."

Senior Emerson Dennis took over at QB in the fourth quarter to help seal the game, highlighted by a fourth down pass into a tight window to tight end Riley Williams on 4th-and-9.

Having the second string step up in a high pressure situation showed Pyne quite a bit about the team he has that's looking for a second consecutive state title. And a fourth down throw coming from your backup like that speaks to the depth Pyne can play with moving forward.

Fans in the stands

After a canceled fall season a shortened spring season, having football back on a September night with fans in the stands was a welcomed sight by everyone.

"It's always fun to have fans in the stands, last year we didn't really have that," Todd-Fields said. "It's great to have that this year and just really experiencing Friday night."

The crowd was electric mostly because of the game Todd-Fields had from all phases.

"I'm really proud of him and the way he played (Friday night)," Pyne said. "He kind of showed why he, in my opinion, is a next-level player somewhere."

The stadium was nearly a full crowd despite the Washington opponent in Camas, and the difference was not lost on Pyne either.

Now, the No. 1-ranked Rams have a road contest against David Douglas next week and hope to keep the good times and the strong crowd energy going.

"(Camas) hadn't lost to an Oregon team ever," Todd-Fields claimed. "To set that tone for the rest of the season is huge. It gives us all the confidence in the world. We're going to go back to our league and play our schedule and then we're going to get to the playoffs and make a run for the state championship."

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