TACOMA - Waitsburg-Prescott football nation donned T-shirts that read "Who are we?" to open the Washington Class 2B state championship game here Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
Washington now knows who W-P is, as W-P posted a 33-7 win over Morton-White Pass to capture its first ever football championship.
"It feels so good," W-P coach Jeff Bartlow said. "From the very beginning in August until we played this game, I can't ask for a better group of kids. They love to play football. They respect their coaches and each other. They wanted to win."
W-P's opening was not state champion caliber as W-P went three-and-out. Zach Bartlow's first pass went 10 feet over a wide open Justin Zuger.
"I might have been a little bit nervous," quarterback Bartlow said. "After that throw, I made sure I calmed down and got in sync. Then we made plays."
The Timberwolves then went three-and-out thanks to a Zuger tackle of Brian Reynolds for a two-yard loss, and W-P went to work at its own 29.
Dalton Estes made his first two grabs of the night, one for 24 yards and a diving catch at the Timberwolves 10, to help set up a one-yard Bartlow plunge and W-P had the lead for good with 3:14 left in the first.
The W-P defense, led by a Billy Brown sack, limited the T-wolves to 25 yards of offense in the second quarter and forced two punts.
"It was probably the greatest game of our lives," defensive lineman Eshom Estes said. "Holding them to seven in the state championship is just amazing. We had the butterflies (to start), but we also had the intensity in ourselves to pull ourselves out of the big crowd and screaming so we could do something great."
Following the second Morton-White Pass punt of the quarter, W-P took over on its 32 with 2:02 remaining in the half.
Brown ran for 11, and Zuger caught a Bartlow pass for 12 to get a first down at the T-Wolves' 45. Bartlow launched a 45-yard bomb down the far side line that Dalton Estes ran under for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 1:06 left in the half.
"I lost it (the ball) in the air," Dalton Estes said. "My defender looked up at it and gave it away. Zach just threw it up for me to go get it."
"We're good at getting scores right before halftime," quarterback Bartlow said. "We've done it, I don't know how many times this year. That's where we get our momentum going to halftime. I know he (Dalton Estes) is a good player and he came through. We got it done and carried it (the momentum) through the rest of the game."
After the prolonged half time, senior captain Eshom Estes led W-P back for the second half.
"I told them that offense wins games, but defense wins championships," Eshom Estes said. "I lived by that."
The Timberwolves took the second half kickoff and marched 70 yards with Reynolds bullying in from the one to cut the lead to 14-7 with 5:31 left in the third.
"The best play we had was after we gave up the touchdown," coach Bartlow said. "That was a huge play for them. But our kids rallied and they weren't going to let that stump us."
W-P took over on its 20 and sparked by an eight-yard completion to Dustin Wooderchak marched to a second-and-10 from its own 42.
"We figured we would just try and get one back," offensive lineman Cadman Donovan said. "It wasn't too big of a deal."
Bartlow and Dalton Estes teamed up on a route down the middle for a 47-yard gain and a first down at the T-Wolves 11.
"It's a roll out left and a QB throw back," Dalton Estes said. "It's just me one on one. My defender wasn't quick enough."
"We've called that a lot of times and its never worked," quarterback Bartlow said. "Everything was working. I can't explain it. We played a good game."
Brown took care of the last 11 yards and W-P jumped back up by two touchdowns at 20-7 with 2:25 left in the third.
On the ensuing Timberwolves possession, Dalton Estes picked his first of two Rylon Kolb passes at his own 39 to end the last Morton-White Pass threat of the quarter. Estes would add another pick at his own 10 with a 35-yard interception return with only :37 left to close out the last Timberwolf hope.
"It's new," Dalton Estes said of the picks. "I hadn't had one in my high school career. I came out in the state championship game and gave it all my heart and had two picks."
A nine yard completion from Bartlow to Wooderchak opened the fourth. Four plays later, Bartlow hit Dalton Estes with a two-yard scoring strike and W-P led 26-7 with 9:22 left.
On W-P's next possession, W-P went 72 yards in seven plays, aided by a 15 yard personal foul on the T-Wolves. A Bartlow scamper for 25 set up a Brown three-yard TD run to cap the drive, Jose Barajas added the PAT, and W-P had its title with the 33-7 win.
On offense, W-P ran for 141 yards, led by Bartlow's 100 on 21 carries, and Bartlow threw to five different receivers for 207 yards and W-P rolled to its first ever title.
"We were clicking," quarterback Bartlow said. "We wanted it so bad. When we had adversity, we fought back. It (winning the title) is the best feeling in the world."
Dalton Estes led the receivers with six grabs for 135 yards and two scores, plus he added those two interceptions to cap his night.
"Dalton Estes was an animal on offense and defense," coach Bartlow said of his junior. "Everything he did was with a purpose. He can catch the football and Zach can get it to him."
But that offense starts in the trenches with Nick Pearson, Eshom Estes, Chance Leroue, Ben Shafer, and Cadman Donovan.
"Once we got that O-line adjusted a month ago, we started playing better up front," coach Bartlow said. "It was huge."
"We've been working all year," offensive tackle Donovan said. "We've just been getting better and better. We put whoever is best in there and finally got that figured out and we've been doing pretty well. We work on both pass and run (blocking). We try to mix it up. When they put their defense in for run, we'll switch to pass."
The W-P defense, led by Dalton Estes' picks, the linebacking play of Brown, Danny Stansell and Brendon Donovan, the leadership of Greg Stearns and Wooderchak, and the run stuffing of corner back Zuger, limited the Timberwolves to only 166 yards.
"I can't explain in words," senior defensive lineman Eshom Estes said. "We did what we could do and we really pulled this one off."
For the senior class - Bartlow, Brice Paxon, Zuger, Wooderchak, Eshom Estes, Cadman Donovan, Stearns, and Barajas - they leave behind a state championship and a 14-0 perfect season and a 26-1 record over the last two seasons.
"Not much better to say than a perfect season," senior Cadman Donovan said. "I love playing for this team and I love it around Waitsburg."
"First time in history, state champions, you can't beat it," Eshom Estes said. "There was nothing that motivated me more than my grandma. She passed away during the summer and she's the one that made me the boy that I am now."
The senior class will be missed, but appreciated for hanging the state title banner.
"Those eight guys won a lot of football games," coach Bartlow said. "We lost a bunch of great kids. I give the game ball to all of those guys for wanting it as much as they've ever wanted anything athletically. It's huge W. We love them and we'll miss them."
WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT 33, MORTON-WHITE PASS 7
W-P 7 7 6 13 33
Morton-White Pass 0 0 7 0 7
W-P - Bartlow 1 run (Barajas kick).
W-P - D. Estes 45 pass from Bartlow (Barajas kick).
Morton-White Pass - Reynolds 1 run (Park kick).
W-P - Brown 11 run (kick failed).
W-P - D. Estes 2 pass from Bartlow (run failed).
W-P - Brown 3 run (Barajas kick).
W-P Morton-White Pass
First Downs 16 8
Rushes/Yards 32-141 35-116
Passing yards 207 50
Passes (att-compl-int) 21-14-0 14-6-2
Punts 1-39.0 3-30.3
Penalties 3-45 6-72
Fumbles 2-0 3-0
Rushing - W-P: Brown 9-46, Bartlow 21-100, Eastman 1-(-4), Team 1-(-1); Morton-White Pass: Reynolds 20-83, Crowder 4-18, Bertucci 5-27, Park 1-3, Kolb 4-(-6), Team 1-(-9).
Passing - W-P: Bartlow 14-21-0, 207 yards, 2 TDS; Morton-White Pass: Kolb 6-14-2, 50 yards, 0 TDs.
Receiving - W-P: Brown 2-15, D. Estes 6-135-2, Acevedo 2-9, Wooderchak 3-36, Zuger 1-12; Morton-White Pass: Reynolds 3-16, Hanger 2-9, Powell 1-25.