Archive for the ‘A freakin’ American hero’ Category

   A back injury will likely cost Hunter Smith the final five games of his senior season, but he exits holding seven CHS football records. (David Stern photo)

He is the best I have seen play with my own eyes.

From the first moment he stepped on the field as a fab frosh, to today, where he’s a sensational senior, Hunter Smith has been the gold standard.

A back injury, aggravated on a running play at Vashon where he was sandwiched by multiple tacklers and bent in three directions at once, will likely claim his remaining days on the gridiron.

He stalked the sidelines at Port Townsend, will not play against Bellevue Christian tonight, and the chance he will see the field in his team’s final three games is slim.

As a fan, it will be a killer to see half his senior season carved away, it’s true.

But, as great as he has been, if us missing the chance to see a few more highlights means Hunter heals and is pain-free in the years to come, it’s an easy choice to make.

And, in the end, on-field greatness isn’t decided by how many games you play — but by what you did in the time you had.

Ian Barron, Coupeville’s career rushing leader and one of the few who would join Smith in the conversation for the greatest Wolf gridiron player of all time, essentially missed a complete season thanks to two different injuries.

We can take Smith’s three-and-a-half years wearing #4 and say, with absolute assurance, this young man here, he was one of the greats.

He exits holding seven different CHS football records, one more than Barron, and is the only Wolf to own season and career marks on both sides of the ball.

A silky-smooth receiver who routinely turned five-yard passes into 50-yard jaunts, he was rarely, if ever, shut down by opposing defensive backs.

Flip the tables, and Smith was Mr. Lock-down.

He was pick-happy, could fly to the ball to deliver bone-crunching hits and rendered his side of the field a no-pass zone most nights.

But numbers are numbers, records are records, and the true greats achieve rarefied air by doing something more than just putting up stats.

Smith was a quiet leader, a guy who led by example, and someone who always put his own teammates ahead of himself.

I don’t say that lightly.

As he churned through games, piling up stats, the ONLY time I ever heard him say a word about the numbers was a moment when he thought his mate in the defensive backfield, Cameron Toomey-Stout, was being robbed.

A clerical error during their junior season awarded Smith an interception which Camtastic had snagged, and, behind the scenes, Hunter did everything in his power to get the stat properly awarded.

He was chasing the school’s career pick record at the time (and caught it during his senior year), but wanted credit only for what he had truly achieved.

More importantly, Smith had great pride in Toomey-Stout and didn’t want to deflect the spotlight from his friend.

That moment, as much as any pass he hauled in, or any time he zipped into the end zone and immediately tossed the ball to the ref, Barry Sanders-style, is why we will remember him so fondly.

Who knows? Somewhere down the road a Wolf player may show up and come gunning for Smith’s records, the way he did when he surpassed ’80s great Chad Gale.

But, whether he holds the records for a season, for decades or until high school football fades out and is replaced by Ultimate Frisbee, Hunter Smith will live large in the memory banks of Wolf football fans.

He was a class act, on and off the field — the best I have witnessed with my own eyes.


Smith’s career numbers:


102 catches
1,761 receiving yards
17.3 yards a catch
17 receiving TDs


33 carries for 128 yards
1 rushing TD


1-1 for 67 yards


105 tackles
16 interceptions
3 fumble recoveries
2 TDs on pick-sixes

Punt/kickoff returns:

17 for 351 yards
1 TD on a punt return
1 TD on a kickoff return


140 points
22 touchdowns
4 conversions

School records:

Receiving TDs in a game (3) – 2016 vs. Bellevue Christian

Receiving yards in a season (916) – 2016
Receiving TDs in a season (11) – 2016
Interceptions in a season (7) – 2015

Receiving yards in a career (1,761)
Receiving TDs in a career (17)
Interceptions in a career (16)

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Coleby Fleming, the artist at rest. (Chris Pingol photo)

Coleby Fleming is one of the more talented guys in Coupeville.

His work with a camera, both in still pictures, and video photography, continues to dazzle.

Fleming’s latest work comes to us from my homeland, Norway, where he spent a summer vacation with his grandma.


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   Chelsea Randall, woman of 1,001 talents (and soon, some Emmy awards … or maybe a Tony. Yeah, probably a Tony). (Kelsey Simmons photo)

   Karla Crouch (center) and crew mates on the set of “The Adventures of Captain Callie.” (WhidbeyTV photo)

There are a lot of people in this world who can do one thing, and some of those have a fair amount of talent in their chosen field.

But it’s rare, truly rare, when one person can do five, six, maybe 20 different things — all at once — and excel at each and every one of them.

Chelsea Randall, who put up with me for three years back when we worked together in the restaurant biz, is flat out the most talented person I know on a personal basis.

She always deserved so much more than what she was getting, and that makes it even sweeter to see her being rewarded, finally, for her talent, her drive and her genius.

Chelsea’s new TV show, The Adventures of Captain Callie, a musical, nautical-themed children’s adventure which she created, wrote, choreographed and composed, hits the airwaves next Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Starring Karla Crouch as the titular character, the series follows Captain Callie and her young crew mates as they explore Whidbey Island, a song on their lips and adventure in their hearts.

The show will play at 8 AM and 4 PM on WhidbeyTV, channel 501, or if you’re not in their broadcast area, pop over and stream it at http://whidbeytv.com/

To get a feel of what the show will look and sound like, take a gander at the preview:

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Will “The Thrill” Butela (right) with comedy partner in crime Mike Duke.

So, apparently Videoville was a breeding ground for Hollywood all those years.

At this point, half the people who I once slung videos with — and by slung I mean we actually threw VHS tapes at each other on more than one occasion — are making it big in the entertainment biz.

Mason Hughes is Drew Barrymore’s right hand man, and an Instagram star in his own right, while Will “The Thrill” Butela continues to surface in ads every time I turn around.

Most times he’s working with his partner in crime, fellow Coupeville High School grad Mike Duke (who, for reasons unknown, shockingly did NOT work behind the video store counter), but in the ad for Peoples Bank below he’s working his sardonic magic solo.

Go. Stop reading. Watch Will, the greatest soccer goalie in CHS history (historical truth, son!), do what Will does.

It’s two-and-a-half minutes of finely-spun comedy gold, courtesy a guy who I once watched shotgun an entire batch of frozen mocha Granita drink, while Mason ran around behind us, screaming about his missing car … which Will had secretly relocated.

One of the best days ever.

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(Amy King photo)

   Tiffany Briscoe (left) and Lauren Grove both played a sport in all 12 seasons of their high school career. (Amy King photo)

The three-sport athlete is not dead.

In the five years Coupeville Sports has existed, the number of Wolves upholding the old-school tradition of playing something every season has fluctuated.

And this year, that number is trending upwards.

One week into spring sports practices, it appears 23 CHS students — 13 girls and 10 boys — will pull off the feat in 2016-2017.

That’s a nice bounce from last year, when only 17 reached the mark.

It also stops a downward spiral.

After 18 athletes hit the mark in 2012-2013, we hit a high-water mark of 23 in ’13-’14.

But then the numbers started to slip, from 20 in ’14-’15 to last year’s low of 17.

Now, we’ve rebounded to tie our best mark.

Why the increase this year?

In two words, fresh blood, as 10 freshmen (five girls, five boys) took advantage of all of their opportunities.

In fact, the frosh nipped the juniors, who fielded seven iron men/women, while the sophomores had four and the seniors just a piddly two.

But those two seniors, Lauren Grove and Tiffany Briscoe, are true believers, having played a sport in all 12 seasons of their high school careers.

That tops last year, when just one ’16 grad, Jared Helmstadter, achieved the perfecto.

Barring injury or distractions, we could have as many as four athletes pull off a 12-for-12 run in ’18, as juniors Lauren Rose, Allison Wenzel, Cameron Toomey-Stout and Hunter Smith are flawless to this point at 9-for-9.

Why does any of this matter?

For a lot of reasons, with the first being the simple fact Coupeville is a small school, even by 1A standards, and needs bodies in uniforms.

Also, the age of specialization is a crock, unless you’re in the top .001% of your sport nationally (and no one in Cow Town fits that bill these days).

College coaches repeatedly say the same thing — they want athletes who have played more than one sport. You may have a specialty, or a favorite, but try pushing yourself.

The proof is right before our eyes.

When we look at CHS grads who have gone on to successfully play college sports in recent years, whether it’s Tyler King at U-Dub, Kyle King at Oklahoma, Makana Stone at Whitman or Ben Etzell at Saint John’s, one fact remains — they all played 2-3 sports every year in high school.

Whether you want to move on to the next level or high school is the end of the road for you athletically, push yourself. Try something new.

It’s good for the school. It’s better for you.

3-sport athletes in 2016-2017:

Tiffany Briscoe – senior (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Hunter Downes – junior (football, basketball, track)
Mikayla Elfrank – junior (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Lauren Grove – senior (soccer, basketball, track)
Mason Grove – freshman (tennis, basketball, soccer)
Elliott Johnson – freshman (tennis, basketball, baseball)
Gavin Knoblich – freshman (football, basketball, baseball)
Nicole Lester – sophomore (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Joey Lippo – junior (tennis, basketball, baseball)
Emma Mathusek  – freshman (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Avalon Renninger – freshman (soccer, basketball, tennis)
Lindsey Roberts – sophomore (soccer, basketball, track)
Lauren Rose – junior (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Ema Smith – sophomore (soccer, basketball, track)
Hunter Smith – junior (football, basketball, baseball)
Scout Smith – freshman (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Cameron Toomey-Stout – junior (football, basketball, track)
Maya Toomey-Stout – freshman (volleyball, basketball, track)
Sean Toomey-Stout – freshman (football, basketball, track)
Ulrik Wells – freshman (football, basketball, baseball)
Allison Wenzel – junior (volleyball, basketball, track)
Sarah Wright – sophomore (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Tia Wurzrainer – freshman (soccer, basketball, tennis)

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