Friday, November 18, 2011
WAITSBURG - "We're explosive. That's the best way to say it."
That's how Waitsburg-Prescott coach Jeff Bartlow summed up his undefeated football team while discussing W-P's state Class 2B-11 quarterfinal matchup with Lind-Ritzville/Sprague at noon Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
"We've got a good running back, and he's a quarterback," Bartlow said of W-P's Zach Bartlow, who ran for 1,128 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, while also completing 130 of 229 passes (57 percent) for 1,683 yards and 25 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions.
"He's a quarterback that can run, and that's an added strength to the team," coach Bartlow said.
Backing up Bartlow's efforts on the gridiron is running back Billy Brown, who has 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
That doesn't take into account three touchdowns Brown has scored on six receptions for another 119 yards - an average of almost 20 yards a touch.
"Billy's a sprinter," coach Bartlow said. "Once he gets space he's tough. Once he picks his hole, he explodes. And we've gotten some shuffle passes to him for big plays."
But W-P isn't just a running team.
"We've got some good receivers," coach Bartlow said.
Leading the way is Dalton Estes, who has 41 catches for 650 yards and 13 TDs.
He's joined by three other W-P receivers with at least 200 yards receiving.
Dustin Wooderchak has 26 receptions for 396 yards and six scores, Justin Zuger has 26 catches for 245 yards and a TD, and Devin Acevedo has 23 grabs for 219 yards and three touchdowns.
"Offensively, that's where we're at," coach Bartlow said, while pointing out that W-P has shored up its offensive line over the course of the regular season.
"We had to focus on our offensive line," Bartlow said, referring to close victories in October.
W-P picked up a 7-6 win over Dayton on Oct. 7 and a 26-20 victory at Tri-Cities Prep the next week.
"They were tough," he said of the Bulldogs. "We beat them, but we didn't play as well as we could have. Really, up to the Asotin game (a 48-20 road victory on Oct. 21), we struggled up front. The last two games, we've made huge progress. We're playing better up front, picking up blitzes and our speed is good. That's the No. 1 thing we've worked on the last three weeks. I give the guys (the W-P offensive line) credit for working on it."
The coach also hands out accolades for his defensive line of Eshom Estes, Cadman Donovan, Greg Sterns and Chance Leroue.
"We're stiffening up and playing well defensively," Bartlow said. "If it's not the best D line I've ever had, it's close."
That line strength contributes to W-P allowing just 100 yards a game on the ground.
"That's pretty good," Bartlow said.
W-P's foe on Saturday, Lind-Ritzville/Sprague's Broncos, are 9-1 on the season, suffering a one-point loss to undefeated Colfax.
"They're the best team we've played," Bartlow said. "They're a quality group of kids, with a good reputation and good tradition. It's going to take our best game to beat them. They're a legit team."
A key for W-P is shutting down the Broncos' running game, but also picking up on a passing attack that can put the ball over the top.
"Their offensive line is the best we've seen all year," Bartlow said. "Their sophomore quarterback Dillon Hartz can throw. He's pretty good. We've got to be paying attention to that.
"Our biggest thing the first series is to have big plays on defense," he said. "Go three-and-out and get our confidence up."
But W-P is ready for the challenge, Bartlow feels.
"Anytime you're in this kind of a run (an undefeated season), the energy's high," he said. "There's a huge amount of planning going on. The kids are tuned in. They're good about paying attention. This is the best group I've had that way.
"Our chemistry's good," Bartlow said. "The kids just want to move on and win. They're focused.
"We like where we're playing (Edgar Brown), and hopefully we'll get some good weather."