If Mike Morgan has to lead his team against Jeff Bartlow’s Waitsburg-Prescott Cardinals again this season, he knows what to expect from Bartlow.
The Cardinals – annual trouble for other area football teams in the Southeast 2B League – won the state 2B title last season with an unblemished 14-0 record.
And they did it by running through two teams from the Northeast 2B League – Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, which they beat 42-7 in the state quarterfinals, and Morgan’s team from Colfax, which they defeated 42-13 in the semifinals.
“It would be presumptuous to think that it will be us and them again, but down there they reload every year and they’re going to be good again this year,” said Morgan.
“They may have lost some key guys to graduation like we did, but I fully expect them to be every bit as competitive and dangerous this season.”
Graduation took star quarterback – and coach’s son – Zach Bartlow away, but the Cardinals have back running back Billy Brown and receiver Dalton Estes. Both are seniors now, and both had everything to do with last year’s state title.
“Those two players, I’ll tell you, they can hurt teams,” Morgan said of playing against the pair of skilled offensive weapons.
On defense, Bartlow – the league’s reigning coach of the year – lost four all-league players in Justin Zuger (defensive back), Dustin Wooderchak (linebacker), and defensive linemen Eshom Estes and Greg Steams.
“But the thing about Jeff Bartlow is he’s always got something coming in behind those guys, so I don’t think you’re going to see any huge gaps to fill or areas where they have a lot of problems.
“All these teams have their areas that can be exposed – we’ve got them – so it’s about finding it,” added Morgan.
“They’re going to be tough to beat out of that league, and you can never count out DeSales or Sal Lopez and his team at Asotin. There is a lot of state experience in these parts and that’s what makes it exciting. To see who will come together.”
If Bartlow has anything to say about it, he’ll be bringing home another title.