Waitsburg-Prescott set for state title matchup with Morton-White Pass

Morton-White Pass stands in the way of W-P's undefeated season and first state football championship as they play Saturday in Tacoma.

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WAITSBURG - The celebration for Waitsburg-Prescott after its 42-13 romp past previously undefeated Colfax in the state 2B football semifinals last Saturday in Pasco lasted a full day.

Then, it was onto preparing for W-P's first championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.

"We had a 24-hour celebration with the community," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "That's about as long as you can celebrate, you've got to get ready for the next game."

And the next foe for the 13-0 W-P squad: Morton-White Pass.

"We've been watching a lot of film," Bartlow said of the Timberwolves, 11-1 out of the 2B Central

League. "They're a run-first team. a smash-mouth team.

"A lot of guys in the box to stop the run, that's what you have to do to stop this team," Barlow said, "and nobody's been doing it."

The Timberwolves lost one regular-season game, 14-7, to Napavine in the third game of the season.

The seven points allowed in that loss were the only allowed by Morton-White Pass in the regular season.

Morton-White Pass was led by Brian Reynolds' 1,076 yards rushing as the Timberwolves put up 2,074 yards on the ground.

Quarterback Rylon Kolb has thrown for 1,078 yards.

"They boast a 1,000-yard runner, and they throw a little bit to keep you honest," Bartlow said. "If we stop the run, we should have a chance to be successful.

"It's a great matchup," he said. "Their D (defense) and our explosive O (offense). It's a classic matchup."

Waitsburg-Prescott enters the championship with two 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Zach Bartlow with 1,318 yards and Billy Brown with 1,279, as W-P piled up 2,887 yards on the ground.

Bartlow has also thrown for 2,126 yards and 31 touchdowns with just six interceptions.

W-P has put up an average of 389 yards of offense compared to 221 for opponents this season.

"Our hope is we score points early," Bartlow said. "They're a running team, and if we score early, they can't afford to grind it out," Bartlow said. "They don't have time to do it (run). They have a good ball-control offense. If it's a close game, that works to their favor."

Against Colfax last weekend, W-P held a 28-7 halftime lead while cruising to the semifinal win.

"We didn't let them (the Bulldogs) run the ball because we were ahead early," Bartlow said. "If we

have trouble scoring, that works in their favor."

W-P has now advanced to the state semifinals three times during Bartlow's 13 years at the helm. W-P lost to eventual state championship Davenport in 2000, and to Colfax last season. South Bend beat

Colfax for last year's title.

Getting past Colfax in last week's semifinal was a cause for celebration after previous losses to the Bulldogs the last two seasons, Barlow said.

"It's a relief," he said. "The stress last week was big. There was more pressure trying to beat them (Colfax) for the first time after losing to them twice (the last two playoffs). I knew we had to play with confidence, and we did. We figured it out and it was huge.

"We're not done at all," Bartlow assured. "We plan on winning the championship. We're working and

getting ready to play a good football team and win the championship.

"The relief was the ‘W're going to the championship game' feeling," he said. "We've never had that

feeling before. But second (place) wouldn't be very happy for our kids. We're going to push with everything to get the championship."

The state title would seal a perfect season for W-P.

"Our goal from the beginning (of the season) was to win league, go deep in the playoffs and win it all," Bartlow said. "That was from the beginning."

And that makes this run even sweeter for W-P's coaching staff. Bartlow's sons Zach, the aforementioned senior quarterback, and Nate, a sophomore lineman, are on the team along with assistant coach Joe Estes' two sons, junior wide receiver Dalton and senior lineman Eshom, as well as assistant Troy Larsen's freshman son Talen.

"Having sons on an undefeated team in the state championship - that's a dream come true," Bartlow said. "It's beyond description. It doesn't get any better than that. I couldn't draw it up any better than that. To be undefeated, too, with a chance for a perfect season, is wonderful. We're fortunate to be here.

"We're all kind of numb, actually."

But that excitement doesn't overshadow preparations for the season finale Saturday.

"They're excited," Bartlow said of W-P's players. "But they're focused. We've been conditioning inside, in the warmer air, to get used to the dome."

The team left town at 6 a.m. this morning to make a 1:45 p.m. practice session this afternoon in the Tacoma Dome.

"They're ready, they want to play," Bartlow said.

"The community's been great, the support awesome," he said. "The town will be empty Saturday afternoon. It's pretty special. It doesn't happen all that often.

"We have an excellent opportunity to win, and we're going to put our best foot forward. Just to compete for it is an honor and a privilege.

"To go farther is our goal."

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