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   Jeff Rhubottom (top, left) is joined by (clockwise from top right) Bill Jarrell, Randy Keefe and Terry (Perkins) Powell (wearing blue necklace).

Better late than never.

As I’ve constructed the one-man, semi-real shrine to excellence known as the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, I’ve zigged and I’ve zagged, plucking excellence from all decades.

And yet, I would be the first to admit, my decision-making process has always been at least slightly suspect.

Some people got in really early, and sometimes, for a thousand different reasons, some of the most qualified have been left to bide their time outside the doors of our digital hall.

Almost always it wasn’t intentional. I promise.

Today, we’re making up for that, at least a little, with the induction of four of the most talented Wolves to ever put a basketball into the bucket.

They all played multiple sports, and were standouts regardless of the season, but, with my recent deep dive into the CHS basketball records — which exist in a million little pieces — this fab four looms even larger.

So, way, way, WAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY overdue, let’s welcome Randy Keefe, Terry (Perkins) Powell, Bill Jarrell and Jeff Rhubottom to the Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find them up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, which is something they’ve always been, even if this writer has taken forever to get them enshrined.

Our first inductee, Powell, stands as one of the first true girls basketball stars in Central Whidbey history.

She led the Wolves in scoring for three consecutive seasons, tossing in 194 points in 1984-1985, 165 in the ’85-’86 campaign, then topping things off with a 314-point barrage in ’86-’87.

Working in tandem with fellow Hall o’ Famer Marlene Grasser (who netted 307 points that year), Powell was the leader of the first CHS girls hoops team to advance to the playoffs.

At the time of her graduation, Powell held the school single-season and career scoring marks for girls.

The increased pace of the game and addition of the three-point shot allowed a handful of other Wolves to eventually catch and pass her, but she remains #7 in career scoring with 673 points.

Her fellow inductees dominated in the ’70s, and the fact all three remain in the top 10 with both career and single-season scoring marks, is made more remarkable by two facts.

One, they all played before everyone and their brother got three points for hitting a shot behind the arc, and two, they suited up at a time when ninth graders either didn’t play high school basketball or were firmly affixed to the very end of the bench by their coaches.

That didn’t stop any of the three, though.

Keefe and Jarrell’s high school hoops careers ran from the ’73-’74 season (their sophomore campaign) through a journey to the state tourney in ’75-’76 as seniors.

One was maybe the most consistent scorer in school history, while the other caught his buddy at the end with a season for the ages.

CHS boys basketball has played 100 seasons (1917-2017), and Keefe owns two of the 10 best single season performances.

He rattled home 293 points as a sophomore, 398 as a junior (#7 all-time) and 397 as a senior (#8 all-time), leaving him with 1,088 points, third-best in program history.

Only two guys beat him, Jeff Stone (1137) and Mike Bagby (1104), and Stone had to throw down an Island-record 644 points as a senior to assure that, while Bagby, playing in the modern era, got a full four years as a varsity starter.

Jarrell didn’t come out of the gate quite as quickly as his running mate, settling for 83 points as a sophomore, fifth-best on that year’s team.

Then, something clicked and he went off for 357 points as a junior and 415 as a senior.

Snapping Keefe’s two-year run as team scoring champ, Jarrell’s senior heroics stand as the fifth-best single-season performance, and his 855 points lands him at #10 on the career list.

That ’75-’76 squad was one of the best the school ever had, and, along with the hot-shooting senior duo of Keefe and Jarrell, the Wolves got a huge contribution from a rampaging 6-foot-4 sophomore named Rhubottom.

He pounded away for 228 points as a sophomore, then took on even more of the scoring load over the next two seasons.

Rhubottom knocked down 325 as a junior (backing up Foster Faris, who went off for 348), then unleashed a beat-down as a senior.

By the time he was finished with the ’77-’78 season, Rhubottom had 459 points, which remains the second-best single season in school history, boys or girls, trailing just Stone’s once-in-a-century performance.

His 1012 career points will have him sitting #4 on that list when CHS raises a basketball record board.

Now, of course, we haven’t talked about the hundreds upon hundreds of rebounds hauled down, the assists doled out, the steals made off, or all the small plays this four-pack made.

But, even just talking about their scoring ability, it’s easy to see why Powell, Keefe, Jarrell and Rhubottom remain among the biggest stars to ever grace the CHS hardwood.

Hall o’ Famers, one and all, even if they had to wait way too long for it to be “official.”

   Coming off a league title, high-flying Mikayla Elfrank and CHS volleyball want more success. (John Fisken photos)

   Joey Lippo will team with William Nelson to form Coupeville’s #1 tennis doubles duo.

Claire Mietus returns for her senior season of cheer, ready to be a leader.

Dawson Houston and Wolf football want to break a postseason drought.

Anticipation.

It lingers over the land, as the start of a new high school year, and a new fall sports season, approaches.

Football enters day four of practice today, while everyone else — volleyball, cross country, tennis, cheer and soccer — is on deck, ready to officially begin Monday.

Two of Coupeville’s fall teams, volleyball and boys tennis, are defending Olympic League champs, but everyone has their heart set on making the start of the 2017-2018 school year a success.

Thoughts from the front lines, presented in alphabetic order:

Hunter Downes (senior/football):

I’m just here so I don’t get fined.

Mikayla Elfrank (senior/volleyball):

Volleyball will make it to state.

Dawson Houston (sophomore/football):

We are getting in work and hoping for an 11th game. It’s also a struggle for some that haven’t been putting in the work over break. But we will get better and stronger.

Kyra Ilyankoff (2011 grad who remains on CHS track and volleyball record boards):

That I would pass as a high schooler and come back to kill it in volleyball!

Joey Lippo (senior/tennis):

Tennis is going to win league this year.

Janie McClarin (former tennis mom):

For the first time in about eight years we won’t have a kiddo involved in Coupeville sports. Definitely bittersweet. Looking forward to your fall tennis coverage.

Claire Mietus (senior/cheer):

The cheer team is going to stop being influenced by the stereotype that “We’re Coupeville.” We want to have pride in our squad as well as ourselves and not have our actions defined by others’ expectations.

Ben Smith (freshman/football):

We want to attempt to at least have an 11th game, though some haven’t been able to attend to put in work. But we do hope that this year is better then ever.

Ken Stange (boys tennis coach):

We’re going to break in our newly repaired and resurfaced courts.

The tennis team will compete for and hopefully win our third straight league title.

The #1 doubles duo of Joey Lippo and William Nelson will play difficult, non-league opponents, sharpening their skills, hopefully leading them to the state tourney.

Last year’s singles players, Nick Etzell, Jakobi Baumann and Mason Grove, will come on strong, relying on last season’s experience to propel the team to many wins.

One, two, or all three will advance to districts, where they will make waves.

Jacob Zettle (senior/current free agent):

With the start of a new season brings one of two things, hope or discouragement.

Most likely it will bring hope, the hope of a good season. Then, after that, it’s up to the team on how hard they are going to work.

But if your season is started with that discouragement, all I have to say is good luck because you’re going to need it!

And if you wanted any advice in your story from a former player I have two things, don’t get knocked out, and give your season to the Lord because you can’t do it in your own strength.

He will provide the strength you need.

   CHS runners (l to r) Danny Conlisk, Lauren Bayne, Jacob Smith and Lucy Sandahl get ready for Ragnar. (Photos courtesy Deb Smith)

Smith conserves his energy, pre-run.

The team banner flies proudly.

Bayne shows her selfie stick game is strong.

Sandahl dreams of PRs.

A rare moment to sit down.

Conlisk (sporting green shoes) moves through the pack.

It’s the ferry life for them.

Running season never ends.

Somewhere, right now, there’s a Ragnar event going on, of that I’m sure.

The distance relay events, which draw a wide range of runners, spring up every time you turn around.

Generally the way you notice is when you hear the Viking horns outside your bedroom window at 6 AM on a Saturday … but I digress.

Packs of Coupeville runners are off at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort Friday and Saturday for the Ragnar Trail-Rainier event.

One such team, featuring CHS runners Lauren Bayne, Jacob Smith, Lucy Sandahl, Abby Parker and Danny Conlisk as well as CMS coach Bob Martin and Wolf mom Deb Smith, is seen in the photos above.

   Ebey Academy, including owner Konni Smith (left), had a big presence at the Bennett Boyles Memorial Golf Tournament. (Photos courtesy Mitch Aparicio)

CK Electric is ready to turn on the power.

Casey Audette shows off some raffle bounty.

Mitch Aparicio (right) and Penn Cove Brewing Co. staged the event.

   He’s paying his way to college by collecting and reselling golf balls. At least that’s the rumor.

The Roberts boys, up to possible shenanigans.

Jack Nicklaus reborn.

CHS baseball star Joey Lippo (far right), learning the game from the old pros.

Every swing was a winner.

Whether they were setting up for an eagle or spending time chasing their ball through the brush, local golfers came together this past weekend to raise $2,800 for the WhidbeyHealth Foundation.

The Bennett Boyles Memorial Golf Tournament, put on by Mitch and Marc Aparicio, owners of the Penn Cove Brewing Company, honors the memory of a late Coupeville Middle School athlete who fought courageously against brain tumors.

The tourney drew 12 four-player teams and numerous local sponsors, and the Aparicios plan to continue expanding the event each year.

They’d like to emulate a similar golf fundraiser on the South end of Whidbey Island, which went from $4,000 raised in 2013 to $33,000 raised in its most recent incarnation.

Audette Construction nipped defending champs Papa Bear & the Kids to win the team scoring title. Both teams finished at nine under par, but Audette prevailed on a tiebreaker.

The field from this year’s tourney:

Papa Bear & the Kids:

Chris Marti
AJ Davis
Christian Lyness
Curtis Ashbey

Penn Cove Brewing Company:

Mitch Aparicio
Cecil Stuurmans
George Wolfe
Mike Cann

Mulligan Flats and Joey:

Doug Coutts
Steve Dehaven
Rick Cannon
Joey Lippo

The Bogey Men:

John Fish
Angelo McCoy
Sean Anter
Scott Smith

Cascade Custom Homes:

Jay Roberts
Jon Roberts
Dom Kiblinger
Kevin Kiblinger

Island Eye Care/The Crow’s Roost/Coupeville Water Festival:

Scott Mathews
Rob Matern
Jon Vermillon
Ricardo Reyes

CK Electric:

Patrick Andrews
Dylan Lee
Kyle Andrews
Zac Forland

Audette Construction:

Casey Audette
Matt Sherman
Todd Melnick
Eric Gentry

Ebey Academy:

Konni Smith
Sandra Hall
Maria Reyes
Heather Zustiak

Walton Beverage:

Scott Swanson
Matt Stridby
Blane Hazzel
Brad Mueller

BnC Electric:

Michael Gillespie
Jerry Cooper
Mark Saia
Jerry Saia

The Larry Birdies:

Brad Sherman
Jason Fisher
Chris Smith
Willie Smith

The tourney had 10 sponsors, while also picking up contributions to a raffle from numerous businesses.

Sponsors:

Audette Construction
Cascade Custom Homes and Design
Ciao
CK Electric
The Crow’s Roost
Island Eye Care
Marti’s Construction
Moch Construction and Excavating
WhidbeyHealth
Windermere Real Estate

Raffle donations:

Anacortes Brewery
Branch Business Services
Christopher’s On Whidbey
Ciao
CK Electric
The Cove Cafe
The Crow’s Roost
Farmstrong Brewery
Flyer’s
Frontier Building Supply
Front Street Grill
Harbor Gift N’ Kayak Rental
Island Eye Care
Island Life Photography
Kapaw’s Iskreme
Mussel Flats
Niksai Brewing
The Oystercatcher
Penn Cove Brewing Co.
The Penn Cove Tap Room
Penn Cove Water Festival
Walton Beverage
Whidbey Art Party

   A small fraction of those who make Coupeville Sports what it is. (Photos by Shelli Trumbull, John Fisken, Charlotte Young, Joe Lippo and Sylvia Arnold)

Coupeville Sports is old enough to go to kindergarten.

Born on Aug. 15, 2012, this blog turns five years old Tuesday with much fanfare.

OK, maybe a little fanfare.

Um, any fanfare? Cake maybe?

Bueller? Bueller??

What a long, strange trip it’s been, from the early days, when I was scrappy and argumentative and fond of cheesing off South Whidbey and ATM and King’s and the Canuck-owned “local” newspapers to now, when I’m responsible and serene and … and … what do you mean Klahowya is still mad?!?!

Well, if nothing else, the past five years has shown that “reading” and “reading comprehension” don’t always go hand in hand.

Or that I can be a really annoying pain in the tushie…

One of the two. Probably the latter.

Anyway, having survived through 5,430 articles (“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage…”), I’m still going strong, my readership numbers continue to grow and, hopefully, I’ve found a groove.

This five-years-and-counting journey began because I was mad the Coupeville Examiner was sold and all my (hundreds upon hundreds of) stories were erased from its web site.

Today, that matters far less (or at least I say so in public) and it’s much more about throwing a spotlight on others, uncovering history and documenting day-to-day life in Cow Town.

If you look back at the beginnings of Coupeville Sports, some things were in place from the word go, while others took time to develop.

My first story — “Hark! Fall Sports approach!!!” — was a scintillating look at CHS sports schedules. Scintillating, I say.

Way to come out of the gate, guns blazing, David.

The double exclamation point in the headline, which drives some bonkers, was already present, though, for reasons, unknown, I actually went for a triple hit that first time out.

Four, if you count the exclamation point after “hark.”

What wasn’t present was a photo, as it took me until the third story before I realized how much pics would elevate even the most mundane piece.

My habit of putting people’s names in bold also wasn’t present at the start, not appearing until article #7 and not becoming standard until article #20.

There are those who will shake their head wisely, regard you like you’re a small child, and tell you exclamation points in the headlines and bold face names is a crime against journalism.

Those people need to loosen up. It’s easier to sit comfortably when the stick ain’t crammed up where it’s not supposed to go.

From the start, I have always regarded newspapers as the father sitting in his leather reading chair, puffing on a pipe as he slowly turns the pages.

Every once in a while, he lowers the paper, arches an eyebrow and tells you the scores.

Meanwhile, Coupeville Sports is the kid who’s crawled up to the top of the fence outside your window, and, as he’s tottering back and forth, screams, “Hey, guess what I heard?!?!?!?”

Then, seconds, after dispensing all the juicy gossip and wildly overblown hyperbole, he falls and lands on his head, before bouncing back up and staggering away, waving his arms over his head, “Rocky“-style.

I’m still on my feet, even if my head is pretty lumpy at this point, able to gaze back at where I came from, and look forward to the future.

The first person whose name appeared on this blog? Tony Maggio, who was entering his first season as CHS football coach.

First person to appear in a photo? Caleb Valko, who would quickly become my first breakout star.

First person to get a feature story? Little League state champ turned Wolf football star Wade Schaef.

First game to be covered in Coupeville Sports? A 23-18 loss on the gridiron to Bellevue Christian, five days before the 2012-2013 school year began.

Brett Arnold ran for 166 yards on 19 carries, while Bryce Fleming scored all three of Coupeville’s touchdowns. Gunnar Langvold was the QB, Nick Streubel recovered a fumble and Josh Bayne made off with a pick.

First time I ticked someone off? Chastising ATM for firing former OHHS coach Dave Ward.

The richer and more smugly self-satisfied they are, the thinner skin they have.

First time Coupeville Sports was ejected from the local press box?

I blame Brian Norris and his love of sweet, sweet vuvuzela horns. Or my own lack of self control.

One of the two. Probably the latter.

First (and only) time I had to shut down the comments on a story? Hayley Newman walking away from the South Whidbey girls basketball team two games before the playoffs.

Of course, telling Falcon fans I was “taking away their crayons” probably didn’t do much to calm the situation.

Live and learn.

Averaging more than 1,000 articles a year for five years, I’ve had some strong articles and a few that … maybe should have been thought out more carefully.

I’ve survived a short-lived, whiny attack from another “blog” — https://southwhidbeysportsblog.wordpress.com/ — the final death of The Coupeville Examiner (a sad day) and the agony of those rare times where I had absolutely nothing of substance to write about.

Which didn’t stop me from nattering on.

Where do we go from here?

It would be nice to say I’ll stay on a responsible, mature path, but we all know, at some point, I’m likely to say the wrong thing and inflame a rival fan base.

Especially if it snows anywhere around the grounds of Klahowya High School…

So strap in, hold on and keep your wits about you as we head into year six.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride, and I would have it no other way.