Boys soccer: Bartow wins district title with win over George Jenkins.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated.
It was a memorable moment for Bartow High School in the Class 6A, District 6 championship game Thursday night at George Jenkins High School.
With a 3-1 win over George Jenkins, it’s the first time Bartow won districts under head coach Richard Saunders. The Yellow Jackets advanced past the No. 2 seed Eagles as a No 4 seed after upsetting No. 1 seed Lake Gibson on Monday.
“(I’m) very excited,” Bartow head soccer coach Richard Saunders said. “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been in this position an awful lot, and never came through, so for us to come through on this one, it means a lot to these boys, it means a lot to this school, and it definitely does for the coaches.”
Bartow's last district title came in 2009 when the Yellow Jackets defeated Kathleen in the final then lost to DeSoto county in the first round of the playoffs.
While the end result suggested that the game was action-packed offensively for the entire time, both teams failed to score in the first half. Saunders in that first half was perturbed by the way his team was playing, so there was a message at halftime.
“The first half, they beat us to every ball, they won every free ball, they won every 50-50 ball, and just was running all over the field embarrassing us. And I just wanted to pick it up a little bit and win some of these 50-50 balls,” Saunders said. “Toward the end of the first half, they definitely adjusted a little bit better, and they came out strong again in the second half.”
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George Jenkins’ freshman forward Tyler Bradford scored the game’s first goal 5:27 into the second half.
But a few minutes later, all-county player Chance Campbell scored Bartow’s first goal to tie the game at 1-1 7:22 into the second half. The goal was off a throw-in where the ball was deflected before Campbell kicked it in on the left side. The George Jenkins defense looked as if they were fooled, thinking that Campbell would pass the ball ― but to no avail.
Helping Bartow win the district means a lot for Campbell, who grew up in Bartow where he was developed by Saunders and assistant coach Rainier McKinzy as a young player.
“…It’s indescribable to be able to bring it home to my hometown and have my brothers surrounded with me,” Campbell said. “…I give all the glory to God…”
Freshman Dakota Bidinger then scored 28:37 into the second half. And in one of the more spectacular shots all year, senior Chito Cortez-Ovando booted the ball near the right sideline before the ball traveled a distance to find the back of the net 29:45 into the second half, which made the final score 3-1 Bartow.
Bartow goalkeeper Gideon Campbell racked up 10 saves on the day.
It is yet to be determined what team Bartow will face next in regionals.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Boys soccer: Bartow wins district for first time in quarter century