C.J. Bartholomew’s final performance as a member of a Yorktown athletic team ended in disappointment on June 2 as the boys soccer team lost to McLean in the regional semifinals. Seventeen days later, the senior received one final chance to represent the Patriots: and he took full advantage.
Bartholomew suited up for the Northern Region team in the 2010 Region Rumble All-Star Football Game. Facing the top players from the Northwest Region, Bartholomew intercepted two passes and earned team defensive MVP honors during a 20-17 overtime victory for the Northern Region at South County Secondary School.
Bartholomew saw playing time at safety and handled kicking duties for the Northern Region, connecting on a pair of extra points. He wore No. 15 — his Yorktown number was 5 — and the Patriots logo was missing from his white helmet. Still, Bartholomew made the kind of plays that earned him National District Defensive Player of the Year honors, intercepting a pair of second-half passes.
"When I got out on the field I was like, ‘I’m with the best players in the region, I’ve got to prove myself right here,’" he said. "Honestly, I just came out with a sense of emotion where I’ve just got to be the best player I can be and prove myself in front of all the best players."
Bartholomew’s first interception came on during the Northwest Region’s opening possession of the second half. He leaped high in the air to snare a pass from Battlefield quarterback Bo Revell near midfield and returned it down to the Northwest 14-yard line.
"First interception, [Revell] threw it deep and I was reading his eyes the whole time," Bartholomew said. "I caught it and I was running and I see [Lee defensive lineman Eric Wright] and he’s got a block for me. I run right next to him and I thought I had six. I thought I had six and I get hawked from behind."
BARTHOLOMEW’S OTHER interception came with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter when he dove to intercept a pass from quarterback Thomas Keith (Osbourn) at the Northern Region 44.
The game ended one play into the North’s possession in the first overtime. After the Northwest kicked a field goal in the overtime’s opening possession to take a 17-14 lead, North quarterback Connor Reilly (Woodson) on first-and-goal connected with a diving Brandon Johnson (Lake Braddock) in the back right corner of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Players from the Northern Region piled on one another near the spot of Johnson’s catch, celebrating victory after an emotional game that included trash talking from both teams.
Johnson, a first-team all-state selection at wide receiver, wasn’t pleased with sharing playing time and decided to voice his opinion to the Northern Region coaching staff — his coaches from Lake Braddock.
"Me and [Hayfield’s] Antoine [McCallum] had been splitting time the whole game and I was getting a little bitter about it," Johnson said. "I told them, ‘Look, put me in in overtime, let me run the corner [route] and I’m going to score.’ [Offensive coordinator Chris Weiler] trusted me and I did it."
Johnson caught three passes for 35 yards and two touchdowns from Reilly, a Patriot District rival during the season.
"As soon as the safety turned his back," Connor said of the game’s final play, "it was wide open."
Reilly, who will play football at Temple next season, completed 21 of 43 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns en route to team offensive MVP honors.
The game was a defensive struggle for the most part as the teams combined for seven turnovers. Each team finished with less than 40 yards on the ground, due in part to players having only one week to practice with one another. Defenses were hitting hard and emotions were running high.
"There was a lot of chatter between the two sides," North starting left tackle Matt Cunningham (West Potomac) said. "We were definitely talking to each other. It was getting pretty intense."
The Northern Region took a 7-0 lead when Reilly connected with Edison wide receiver Christian Washington for a 21-yard touchdown with 3:24 to play in the first half. The Northwest Region responded on its ensuing possession with an eight-play, 67-yard drive that used only 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Revell ended the march with a 3-yard touchdown keeper, but the Northwest continued to trail as Woodson linebacker James Johnson blocked the extra point.
The Northern Region extended its lead to 14-6 when Reilly found Johnson in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown with 11:53 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Northwest Region drove deep into North territory minutes later, but was turned away when North cornerback Kentdrick Barnes (T.C. Williams) tackled receiver Christian Ocasto (Potomac) at the 5 on fourth-and-goal.
A 21-YARD PUNT on the North’s ensuing possession set up the Northwest at the North 32-yard line. After Revell was sacked by the North’s Andrew Embree (Madison) on first down, Revell launched a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jared Johnson (Forest Park) with 6:54 remaining in the fourth. Keith lined up at quarterback and scored on keeper during the ensuing two-point conversion attempt to tie the game at 14.
Bartholomew had a chance to give the North a lead with less than two minutes remaining in regulation but his 37-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
While the kick was no good, Bartholomew’s two interceptions were enough to earn him some hardware and a victory. And even though his soccer career ended on a sour note, Bartholomew’s goal of playing football at the next level — he’s walking on at James Madison — and his desire to prove he could play with the best in the Northern and Northwest Regions helped end his prep career end on a positive note.
"I didn’t really expect [to win team defensive MVP] coming into the game," he said. "It’s just a great feeling."