Tevis Bartlett was the last player expected on the field with Cheyenne East leading Casper Kelly Walsh 57-27 when it took over on its own 26-yard line with 6 minutes, 23 seconds to play in the Class 4A quarterfinal game.
Most of the Thunderbirds’ starters were also on the field, but nobody would have blamed coach Chad Goff for keeping Wyoming’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year on the sideline during what amounted to little more than garbage time.
That play – an 8-yard completion – was Bartlett’s last Friday.
And that’s just the way Goff wanted it.
Bartlett took the snap, rolled to his right and found a tight end just a yard past the line of scrimmage. The tight end – who was sporting No. 85 – caught the low pass, spun right toward the middle of the field and rumbled for the gain before being knocked out of bounds by two Trojans defenders.
Most fans had to un-crumple their programs to see who was wearing No. 85.
There it was, fourth from the bottom in the right-hand column “BARTLETT, GUNNER.”
That’s right, the player who caught Bartlett’s 15th and final completion Friday night was none other than his younger brother, who is a freshman.
“That was one of my goals this season, but nearly getting a first down was pretty cool too,” Gunner Bartlett said. “I was really nervous about getting drilled and dropping it after I caught it, so getting those 8 yards was pretty neat.”
The elder Bartlett’s first career varsity reception also came in a playoff win. Tevis caught a 13-yard pass in East’s 24-19 upset of previously unbeaten Casper Natrona County in the 2011 4A semifinals.
The then-freshman also threw a 32-yard touchdown pass that gave East a 14-7 lead on the Mustangs.
The T-Birds finished as runners-up to Sheridan that fall.
“That was awesome and I’m super excited that coach Goff let us do that,” Tevis Bartlett said of connecting with his younger brother. “That’s the first time we’ve ever been on the field at the same time, so that was really cool.”
Watching video of the play, it’s clear that Bartlett was looking for Bartlett and only Bartlett, just the way Goff intended.
“I started thinking about that this summer,” Goff said. “They’re in the program together, but they’re spaced far enough apart that they probably weren’t ever going to play together.
“This was an opportunity for that to happen. Tevis Bartlett has done a lot of great things for this program. This was out of respect for all Tevis has meant to us.”