With most teams worrying about River View’s passing game, Kody Bartlett and Alonso Mendoza have flown under the radar this year.
The two running backs shouldn’t be ignored, though, as the Chewelah defense can attest.
Mendoza rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and Bartlett added 30 yards in last week’s 27-14 victory in the first round of the state playoffs.
It was an exclamation point on a solid season for the pair.
“Everyone looks at us as a throwing team, so we just came out and reversed it,” Bartlett said.
River View (10-1) faces Quincy (7-4) at noon Saturday in the Class 1A quarterfinals at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick.
Bartlett has rushed for 636 yards and eight touchdowns this season, while Mendoza is at 831 and nine touchdowns.
Mendoza, a junior, and Bartlett, a senior, split time to keep both fresh. Both players also start at linebacker on defense and play on the return team, and Mendoza is the team’s kicker.
It can be a lot for the pair, so coach Brett Jay decided not to have a true feature back.
“Having a fresh back is important,” Jay said. “We pride ourselves on being selfless and understanding everyone has a role. They know having two excellent running backs is better than one. I think they enjoy sharing the backfield.”
Bartlett is more of a speed back, while Mendoza likes to run people over.
“(Kody) can break free and (Alonso) is more for short yardage,” left tackle Spencer Combs said.
Combs is part of a senior-laden offensive line that does the dirty work each week for the pair as well as quarterback Ruvim Tyutyunnik, who also can tuck the ball and run.
“Of course you wish you could be separate, but we’re both good runners,” Bartlett said. “We go out and work as a team, and it works out for us.”
Both Bartlett and Mendoza have been on varsity the last three seasons, sharing time at running back the last two years.
“I have my times,” Mendoza said. “And I try to take advantage of what I can get and show what I can do.”
Bartlett is born and raised in Finley and has been playing running back since he was 7 years old. Mendoza moved to Finley from Mexico in third grade and didn’t start playing football until he was in seventh grade.
Different backgrounds, but similar results for the pair.
Now the running backs are hoping to help lead the Panthers to the program’s first trip past the state quarterfinals.
“It’d be great to overachieve everyone and hopefully go to state,” Mendoza said. “We’re just working hard knowing this might be the last time with the team.”
With the way the two players have played this season, combined with the powerful arm of Tyutyunnik, chances are this won’t be the last week they will play together. Which means they will make school history, a fact not lost on the pair.
“To be the first ones to get past (quarterfinals) would be awesome,” Bartlett said.