The late season road trip that sent Bartow to Haines City and Ridge on back-to-back weeks is behind the Yellow Jackets as they prepare for their final game of the 2013 season.
Senior night will see 13 members of the Class of 2014 honored before the game against non-district rival Lake Wales.
The Highlanders, 5-4, 4-0, have had a successful season, earning a district championship and a chance to meet Spoto next week in the first round of the state playoffs. Lake Wales is coming off a 76-0 thrashing of district foe Tenoroc. Bartow was winless in district play for 2013 in four games and is 2-5 on the season.
The game may not have the implications that others have held throughout the year, but it is clearly a game that each side wants to win.
Lake Wales has dominated Bartow in past years and the Jackets are looking for a chance to close the year on a positive note. The team has had to ensure countless injuries to key position players throughout the year. While the injury issues could be construed as a negative situation, the reality is that it has allowed some underclassmen, who represent the future of the program, an immediate opportunity to make a difference.
Bartow head coach Jason Butler and his veteran coaching staff are quite familiar with Lake Wales and the history between the two teams. Despite their own injury problems in 2013, Lake Wales has been able to face larger schools and play them hard, often to victory. The Highlanders have averaged more than 33 points per game, including a pair of 55 point victories coming in the last half of the season. Bartow will likely look for an opportunity to get an early lead. The team has been forced to play catch-up in recent weeks after trailing early in most of the recent district games.
Lake Wales is expected to draw on the strength of their running game for the regular season finale. Bartow’s swarming defense will again be called upon to represent at the home field as Bartow looks to pick up its second win at home. Bartow beat Lake Region, 44-14 and averages nearly 23 points a game at home.
The kickoff will be whistled into play at 7 p.m., but the community is urged to attend early to support the senior athletes, who will be joined by their parents in a traditional special ceremony.