Cameron Beck rushed right home after his first varsity start for the Rogers High Rams on Friday night.
His favorite dessert was waiting for him, courtesy of his mother.
“I like cupcakes,” Beck said. “I ate two of them.”
The Rams’ sophomore sped away on — not one — but two kickoff returns for touchdowns in Rogers’ 40-24 victory over Curtis in a 4A SPSL opener at Sparks Stadium.
If there is one thing Beck has benefitted from, it is opportunity. The Rams graduated most of their starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s squad that reached the district playoffs.
“We had a lot of unknowns,” Rams coach Gene Bowen said. “But we have a lot of young guys.”
Bowen said when it came to filling the starting kickoff return role opposite Tyrese Rios, the coaching staff narrowed it down to three players in training camp.
Ultimately, Beck — who placed third in the state 100-meter finals last spring as a ninth grader — got the nod. And in the third quarter, he did not disappoint his team.
After the Vikings grabbed their last lead, 17-13, early in the second half, they booted a line drive kickoff to Beck, who scooped it up near the left sideline and saw room on the other side of the field.
Bowen watched as Beck got past the pack, but the kicker had an easy angle to make a tackle — or so everyone thought.
“He got pretty close,” Beck said. “And then I got faster.”
Beck completed the 91-yard score, and the Vikings never trailed again.
But he wasn’t finished. With less than a minute to go in the third quarter, he received a squib kick in the middle of the field, and then darted up the right sideline for another 91-yard touchdown.
“I was sort of confused,” Beck said, “that they were really kicking it to me.”
Bowen called Beck a “deceptively smooth strider” that catches defenders off guard. They shouldn’t be from here on out.
“He maintains all of his track speed in football,” Bowen said. “And he has such a smooth shift in gears.”
2B Central powerhouses flex muscle in openers
At this point, it might be labeled a monumental upset if four teams from the 2B Central League are not playing the final two rounds of the state playoffs later this fall.
What an opening weekend for the state contenders from this league: Top-ranked Onalaska won big over Toutle Lake (62-0). Second-ranked and defending state champion Kalama handled 2A Woodland (26-7). Third-ranked Adna rattled top-five squad Pe Ell/Willapa Valley (33-6). And fourth-ranked Napavine went on the road to Eastern Washington to throttle Liberty of Spangle (39-12).
“District 4 football is still good here,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “I just don’t know if it is where it was last year.”
Union’s Isaiah Jones no longer waiting in the wings
It wasn’t a matter of talent for Isaiah Jones.
Only a matter of circumstance kept the Union running back from even more touches as a junior, when he was third on the depth chart behind Jojo Siofele and Nile Jones — both now college running backs.
What Jones showed flashes of last season during the Titans’ 4A state championship run and undefeated season, was on full display in week one. Jones rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns in a 20-10 win over district rival Mountain View.
His 69-yard touchdown run late in the first half reclaimed the lead for Union.
A close observer to of the Titans in 2018 could have predicted Jones’ hot start. In a nonleague top-three clash last season against Puyallup, Jones had 84 yards rushing and the game-sealing 55-yard touchdown.
Now with 14 all-league seniors gone, it’s Jones’ time to shine.