Jeff Bartlow’s 16-year body of work as head football coach for both Waitsburg High School and the Waitsburg-Prescott program is first rate.
One state championship.
Four appearances in the Class B state semifinals.
Three teams that advanced to the quarterfinals.
Three teams that reached the first round.
In his final six seasons — from 2009-14 — W-P won 61 games and lost just 12, and won or shared league titles six times.
“Jim Sharkey set the table for me,” Bartlow remarked. “He gave me a good team. I got to take (the program) to another level.
“You need good coaches, kids, and parents, and that’s what we had,” Bartlow said. “The culture of football was big. The kids were excited about it.”
W-P stumbled to a 3-6 record a year before its 2009-14 rise to power, Bartlow said.
“I thought we had a good team,” Bartlow said. “We lost a lot of close games. Our junior varsity went 6-and-0, so I knew 2009 would be good.”
A regular-season victory over DeSales was “the biggest win in my tenure,” Bartlow said. W-P capped an 87-yard drive and scored the game-winning touchdown on a pass from Zach Bartlow to Zach Alexenko in the final 30 seconds of play, Bartlow said.
“That was a great win and probably propelled us to win more and more,” Bartlow said of the triumph that snapped a 10-game, regular-season losing streak to the Irish. “I knew we’d have a chance to be really good the next three years.”
W-P claimed an undisputed league crown in 2010 and ended up 12-1. The loss came in the state semifinals against Colfax.
“We were hungry to come back in 2011,” Bartlow said.
The younger Bartlow threw 33 touchdown passes, and both he and Billy Brown rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2011, Bartlow said.
“We had a lot of weapons,” Bartlow said. “Our offensive line was solid. Our defense was tough. (Assistant coach) T.J. Scott had a good handle on the offense.”
W-P went 14-0 and humbled Morton-White Pass, 33-7, in the title contest.
Bartlow remembered his team exacting revenge on Colfax on the road to the Tacoma Dome.
“We had lost to Colfax in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010,” Bartlow said. “We got them in the semifinals to get to the Tacoma Dome.”
DeSales and Oregon powerhouse Heppner were among the teams W-P tripped up on its way to an 11-2 mark in 2012.
“We got to that point where we expected to win,” Bartlow said. “We beat DeSales in Waitsburg on the last play of the game.”
A game-saving tackle on the 1-yard line to be more specific.
Bartlow’s bunch beat Tri-Cities Prep in Pasco in their 2013 regular-season finale — a 41-40 overtime heart stopper that clinched a league championship.
“That was the only overtime game we ever had at Waitsburg-Prescott,” Bartlow said. “We won it with a (point after touchdown) by Antonio Benito. Luke Alexenko had blocked their PAT after they scored first in OT.”
Bartlow turned the program over to current head coach Troy Larson after an 8-4 showing and playoff appearance in 2014.
The close-knit community 20 miles east of Walla Walla still has a special place in his heart.
“I loved coaching and I love kids,” said Bartlow, a counselor at Pioneer Middle School. “I really miss coaching in Waitsburg.
“Downtown, at the high school, or on the street, I was the ‘Coach,’ Bartlow added
“My time in Waitsburg was a blessing to say the least,” Bartlow said. “I love that little town and will never forget it.”