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I’m tired, boss

That moment when you realize the only sports available to write about this fall will be slug races.

Counting today, there are 130 days left in 2020.

And that’s going to be a long, looooooong time with next to nothing to write about.

Which is why, effective early tomorrow morning (Tuesday, Aug. 25), I’m leaving social media and taking a sabbatical from Coupeville Sports.

I’m not removing the blog – all 7,898 articles I’ve published between Aug. 15, 2012 and now will still be here to read.

I’m just not going to add anything new, at least for awhile.

Mainly because there just isn’t going to be much to talk about.

With the COVID-19 pandemic rollin’ on, one of the few guarantees we have is that there won’t be any prep sports played until Jan., 2021.

And even that comes with a really big caveat.

We know there won’t be a fall sports season.

Though, unlike last spring, there still is a chance those teams will play, just not until sometime in March.

Maybe…

If things go perfectly, high school basketball will lead the return, with the start of practice the final week of Dec., and the opening games of a pared-down season dropping the first week of Jan.

Unless the influenza season gets nasty and combines with COVID to create a less-than-perfect storm, at which point we may be on hold for some time.

Basketball may get shoved back.

The season may get bumped.

Or we may just not see prep sports at all during the entire 2020-2021 school year.

No one knows. And if they tell you they do, they really don’t.

So, for someone who writes a blog focused largely on high school and middle school sports in a small town, the future looks increasingly barren.

Tack on the fact I have always lived by the credo of “Publish Every Day,” having averaged 3+ articles a day for the last eight years, and life will be extremely frustrating for me.

Case in point, this weekend.

I published four articles Thursday — two about sports, one about our ferry system, and one extremely well-read one about murder most foul — then had nothing to write about Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Or today, for that matter.

There is nothing ahead on the schedule. Nothing.

No games. No practices. No new hires. Nothing. Nada. Less than zilch.

I can spend a lot of time being frustrated, and resort to sprinkling in non-sports stories, then spend more time marinating in the soul-sucking hell that is social media, or I can take a break.

I have other writing projects I can go work on, and freed from having to be on Facebook and Twitter, I can get away from the cesspool.

So, I’m out.

Like I said, the blog will still be here, and we’ll see how things play out.

If prep sports return in 2021, I may be back. Or not.

Place your bets accordingly.

An Oak Harbor man has been arrested in the 2011 Montana murder of the man seen above, Mike Crites. (Photo property of Helena Independent Record)

It’s the kind of story Ann Rule would have written.

A cold-blooded killing in Montana has led, nine years later, to an arrest on muggy Whidbey Island.

Oak Harbor resident Leon Michael Ford, 66, was arrested Wednesday and will be charged with deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the killing of a man whose chopped-up remains were found in trash bags in Helena back in 2011.

Both charges are felonies.

The remains of the victim, John “Mike” Crites, 48, were found in multiple locations.

Trash bags containing body parts were found at MacDonald Pass outside Helena in October 2011, followed by the discovery of more remains, including the victim’s skull, a year later near Elliston.

The two sites sit approximately 23 miles apart.

At the time of Crites death, Ford owned 15 acres north of the victim’s property northwest of Helena, according to a story in the Independent Record, a daily newspaper in Helena.

The victim and suspect were reportedly involved in a dispute concerning trespassing and property access, and were scheduled to meet on the last day Crites was seen alive.

Ford was arraigned Thursday in Island County, with his bail set at $500,000.

A second hearing has been set for Monday, Aug. 24, and law enforcement is asking for the suspect to be extradited to Lewis and Clark County, Montana.

 

The original story on the arrest:

https://helenair.com/news/local/suspect-arrested-in-2011-killing-of-helena-area-man-mike-crites/article_4508f606-413a-5d76-8715-93f9ce1dfefe.html#tracking-source=home-trending

 

A follow-up story detailing evidence allegedly linking Ford to the crime:

https://helenair.com/news/local/investigation-documents-released-in-2011-killing-of-helena-area-man-mike-crites/article_570b7ca9-ac3b-589f-bba8-58479f916f59.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

CMS athletes like Lyla Stuurmans could be back in action in January. (Corinn Parker photo)

Middle school sports have not been forgotten about.

As Washington state (and the world) deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, prep sports have been massively disrupted, with the loss of spring and summer seasons, and a push-back to any games during the upcoming school year.

Athletic directors, league officials, and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association worked on creating opportunities for high school students first, but now they’ve turned their efforts to middle school as well.

As expected, middle school athletic programs will follow the lead of their high school counterparts, with no games until Jan., 2021, at the earliest.

Middle school athletes will not be totally sidelined until then, however.

The current plan offered by the WIAA will allow for an “open coaching season” from Sept. 28-Nov. 29, with this being available to middle and high school athletes.

Practices will be held after school (2:30-on), even if students are still in online learning and not in-person education, and will be posted on the Coupeville School District’s Tandem calendar.

High school sports are currently set to begin actual competition with basketball up first. Practice would begin the last week of December, with the opening games the first week of January.

With middle school sports, it’s still very much a work in progress, said CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith.

The hope is for CMS teams to also begin play in January, but no schedules have been drafted yet.

That’s largely because only two schools in the Cascade Middle School League — Coupeville and South Whidbey — are in counties which have reached Phase 3 in the state’s reopening plan.

Granite Falls, Sultan, King’s, Northshore Christian, and Lakewood all are in counties currently in Phase 2.

“This is why we aren’t publishing any schedules, because we don’t know where the majority of our league will be in January,” Smith said. “We are hopeful that all will be in at least Phase 3.”

Of the sports CMS plays, boys soccer, volleyball, track and field, and cross country are considered Phase 3 sports, while girls and boys basketball require Phase 4.

If some sports can be played, but it requires moving seasons around to do so, that opens up other questions for the league athletic directors.

“When planning the seasons, it’s important to note that we have to look at gender equity, facilities, transportation, and officials availability,” Smith said.

If and when middle school teams are allowed to play, the Cascade League plans to have each season be comprised of two weeks of practice, and three weeks of games.

The WIAA and the sports medicine group it works with plans to waive the practice requirements, but league AD’s don’t agree.

“We didn’t feel it would be in the athletes best interest, either on a safety or a mental/physical preparedness level to follow those guidelines,” Smith said.

Though current WIAA plans call for high school teams to compete through the end of June, the Cascade League wants to wrap middle school sports by the end of May.

“This aligns with the ability of our middle school students and families to be able to focus on the last month of school, rather than extend the sports year all the way to the end of June as high school is being proposed to do,” Smith said.

The Mukilteo/Clinton ferry run returns to two-boat weekend service starting this Saturday, Aug. 22.

The move, announced Thursday, ends a two-month period in which only one vessel was in operation on the busiest travel days of each week.

Also getting a second boat back on weekends is the Edmonds/Kingston run.

Both routes have been operating with just one boat on weekends since June 20, due to “a lack of crewmembers needed to meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements.”

In a press release, Washington State Ferries said “more than 100 high-risk WSF vessel and terminal employees have been unavailable due to the (COVID-19) pandemic.

“In addition, new hires were unable to undergo mandatory face-to-face training until June.”

The ferry system has been able to add 16 new crewmembers and 10 terminal attendants in the past month.

“We’re now at a point that we can incrementally increase service and are working to restore sailings on additional routes in the weeks ahead,” said WSF Director of Operations Greg Faust.

Give the man his KFC!

Andrew Martin, destroyer of worlds. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

One giant walking, talking bruise with an undying love for IHop pancakes.

Some football players try and do things with finesse, try and run away from their rivals, try to keep their uniforms clean.

Andrew Martin was never, ever one of those players.

“Hambone” is what you get if you build a time machine, go back to the ’50s, grab the guy who’s covered in mud and grass chunks, the guy everyone else is trying not to be hit by, then bring that dude back to modern times.

In other words, a new-school player with an old-school mind set.

Martin rarely dodged, always choosing to run right through fools instead, whether he was playing offense or defense for the Coupeville High School football team.

Hand him the ball, and the human battering ram often ran over the top of his own blockers, surging into the crowd, tearing off chunks of yardage (and sometimes ripping off opponent’s arms and legs in the process).

Martin bulldozes a would-be tackler.

Even in the open field, with no one in front of him, Martin sometimes pivoted backwards, seemingly just so he could feel the thwack one more time as he obliterated a would-be tackler.

He got in the end zone a fair amount of times, especially in big games, but all his best runs, all the plays which linger after his prep career has ended, involved slo-mo destruction.

The same was true on the defensive side of the ball, where Martin recorded tackles at a much more impressive pace than stat guys often recorded.

Rumbling from his linebacker position, or anywhere Wolf coaches plugged him into to as they employed various schemes, he was a wall of bricks.

Few got past him, no one got through him, and virtually everyone who wandered through Martin’s air space paid for it with a deep, aching burn down in their nether regions the next day.

He was a wrecker, a rumbler, a glorious throwback to a time when football players knew only one way to play the game — all-out, aggressive, and loaded for bear on every play.

Martin rose to the occasion, never more than on the night last fall when CHS football sealed the deal on its first winning season in 13 years.

Playing against 2A Anacortes, the Wolf senior rumbled for all three Coupeville touchdowns during a 27-carry, 137-yard swan song in front of his home fans.

Want to marinate in the moment one more time? Pop over to:

https://coupevillesports.com/2019/10/25/long-time-coming/

During Martin’s final season, I travelled to the team’s road games with Andy’s parents, and saw a different side to him than I might otherwise have.

After the Friday Night Lights had dimmed, after the roar of the crowd had receded, Andy would hobble back to the car, the effects of his playing style evident in how he moved, and in his good-natured description of all his various aches, pains, and injuries.

Yet, he never stopped moving forward. On the field, and in life.

Whether he was arguing for why he deserved post-game KFC, even if the nearest chicken outlet was way off the highway, breaking down every play from the game just ended, or trash-talking (in private) an opposing team player who tried (and failed) to intimidate him, Andy was a quality traveling companion.

I respect his game, appreciate the passion and grit he played with, and always found him to be quietly hilarious.

“Rest easy, little guy. Daddy will get you to the end zone and won’t let those bad men touch you.”

Off the field, the youngest member of the Martin clan was a strong student, and a talented member of the CHS band.

He also had some quality moments for the Wolf track and field squad, and could have been a beast on the basketball court like dad Jonathan, if he hadn’t needed downtime to heal his myriad football injuries.

But Andy made his mark on the gridiron, and jammed into the back of a car on the way home from games in some far-flung outpost, and that’s more than enough.

Today, his exploits, his fire, the way he lived, breathed, and (sometimes) suffered for football carry him into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find him, along with older brother Jacob, hanging out at the top of the blog, up under the Legends tab.

Bring him some KFC, sit back, and let him tell you in vivid detail what REALLY happened down there on the field, under the dog pile, away from the eyes of the ref.

Can’t write about it all, maybe, but it still makes for a heck of a story.