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   Cameron Dahl heads for the end zone Monday as the Coupeville JV walloped Vashon. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Jean Lund-Olsen ran for two touchdowns (one was called back on a penalty) and a pair of two-point conversions.

   Dawson Houston stood tall in the pocket, throwing for 205 yards and a touchdown.

Vashon’s offense sputtered under the onslaught of Gavin Knoblich (71) and Co.

Dawson Houston can kill you in many ways.

Whether he was flinging balls through the air or scampering for yardage on the ground Monday, the Coupeville High School QB was a man on a mission.

By the time he was done, Houston had rolled up close to 300 yards of offense, with more than 200 coming in the passing game, powering the Wolf JV football squad to a 16-8 win over visiting Vashon Island.

With both teams dealing with rosters which were already thin long before injuries started to further cut numbers, the game was played as a fast-moving, no-special-teams-play, eight-man game.

For a Coupeville JV squad which had gone seven weeks into the season before getting to play a game of its own, just hitting the field was a victory.

Once on the gridiron, the young Wolves seized the moment.

Brian Roberts blunted Vashon’s opening drive with a resounding sack, then Houston and the offense went to work.

Starting at the 50-yard line, the Wolves only needed one play to break the game open. Almost.

Houston hit Koa Davison on a pass over the middle which turned into a 35-yard rumble.

Unfortunately, a Vashon player coming from behind poked the ball free, forcing a fumble. As the Vikings converged on the ball, what had seemed like a sure-thing Wolf TD vanished as quickly as it was set up.

It turned out not to matter too badly, however, as Coupeville’s defense was in lock-down mode throughout the game.

Dewitt Cole recovered a fumble, James Vidoni and Trevor Bell drove the opposing QB batty and most of the Vashon possessions resulted in “punts.”

With no special teams play, teams could elect to go for it or have the ball moved a set number of yards on fourth down, surrendering without having players fly around on a kicking play.

Coupeville broke the scoreless tie late in the first quarter, getting a short touchdown run from Jean Lund-Olsen, who then added two more points on a conversion scamper.

Lund-Olsen ran unchecked most of the night, with another longer TD run, this one of the 84-yard variety, called back when one of his teammates got caught applying an illegal block way, way behind the speedy Wolf runner.

Picking apart Vashon’s defense, Houston peppered the Pirates, hitting Davison, Lund-Olsen and Gavin Straub, while saving his biggest heaves for the fingertips of Cameron Dahl.

The game-winner came late in the third quarter, with Houston double-pumping, then nailing “Rodeo” in full stride down the right side of the field.

Dahl, having beaten his defender, snagged the bomb as it dropped over his head, cut back inside and was off to score, with the cheers of Wolf fans ringing in his ears every step of the way.

Another two-point conversion run from Lund-Olsen, who shot around the right side and was untouched until he was three steps deep in the end zone, stretched out the final scoring margin.

Not that Houston and Dahl were done, as they connected on two more passes, a 35-yarder and a 25-yarder, before the final whistle blew.

That 25-yarder was Wolf JV coach Jerry “No Worries” Helm at his best.

Facing fourth-and-five with a little over a minute left to play, Coupeville got the first down when Houston faked a pass, then pulled the ball in and sprinted up field for seven yards.

The Wolves could have taken a knee on the next two plays and called it a win, but Helm was looking to get his young guns as much playing time as possible in what could be their only JV game of the season.

So, instead of a victory formation, Coupeville let it fly, with Houston pegging the ball in between two defenders to Dahl for a game-capping reception.

What if the pass had been picked, and heaven forbid, run back for a touchdown? And then, what if Vashon had gotten the two-point conversion?

“Well, then I guess we would have played overtime!,” Helm said with a big grin.

Week after week this season, the JV games have been cancelled, and, going forward, only one of the three remaining varsity foes is still on the schedule for a JV clash as well.

And that will depend on Klahowya’s willingness to play some 8-man football.

With that in mind, getting in as many plays as possible was first and foremost on the Coupeville coaching staff’s minds.

“You want to get the young guys reps,” Helm said. “To give them the chance to see what the difference in speed is like between practice and a game, to get them ready for those Friday Night Lights.

“I was very happy with how they played.”

 

To see more photos from this game (purchases help fund college scholarships for CHS student/athletes), pop over to:

http://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2017-Coupeville-Football/2017-10-16-JV-vs-Vashon/

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   Hunkered down on its own goal line, Coupeville’s defense makes a stand. (David Stern photos)

Wolf ball boys pause for the national anthem.

Ready to rumble.

A well-dressed Wolf player suits up for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

James Vidoni lingers in the light of the scoreboard.

   Friday was easily the chilliest game of the year, as evidenced by the puffs of breath issuing from under face masks.

   As Matt Hilborn sets up to kick-off, the ref asks him not to belt it too far. “Dude, I’m too tired to run right now…”

   Wolf QB Hunter Downes (3) sprints towards the skeleton of Coupeville’s new grandstands during player introductions.

It had been awhile.

After two straight road games, and four of the first six being played away from Coupeville, the Wolf football team returned to kick off a three-game home stand on a very chilly Friday the 13th.

Local photographer David Stern worked the sidelines as CHS clashed with Bellevue Christian, and the photos above are courtesy him.

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   Shane Losey played a strong defensive game Friday, including blocking a Bellevue Christian PAT kick. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Where’s Marshawn Lynch when you need him?

An inability to get one yard, twice, killed the Coupeville High School football team on a very chilly Friday the 13th.

Unable to punch the ball in during the second half, despite having first-and-goal from the one-yard line on their opening drive, then third-and-goal from the one on their next possession, the Wolves fell 24-12 to visiting Bellevue Christian.

The Homecoming loss drops CHS to 1-3 in league play, 3-4 overall.

It also adds a new layer of frustration for Coupeville coach Jon Atkins, who has seen his team decimated by injuries which have thrown a wrench into a season which started quite strongly.

Hunter Smith and Sean Toomey-Stout, the team’s leading receiver and rusher, both went down for the season back in week five, and that has limited the Wolves offensive attack since.

Still, Chris Battaglia and Andrew Martin ran strongly Friday, battering through the BC defense — until Battaglia went down with his own foot injury.

While he was able to return late in the game, Battaglia’s absence was huge, as he had carried the ball on four of the previous five plays, tearing off chunks of yardage on the opening drive of the third quarter.

With #23 being attended to on the sideline, the Wolves went to #32, and Martin crushed it, ramming up the middle for nine, six and 22 yards on the next three plays.

The third run came up a single yard short of a touchdown, as a horde of Vikings finally rode Martin to the turf just outside the goal line.

Trailing 16-12 coming out of halftime, CHS seemed poised to regain the lead, sitting on a first-and-goal, with the end zone tantalizingly close.

Only it didn’t happen, as the Wolves started marching straight backwards, with two aborted runs and a holding penalty turning a first-and-goal on the one into a third-and-goal from the 15.

After 10 straight running plays to open the second half, CHS went to the air, only to have back-to-back Hunter Downes passes batted down by defenders at the last second.

Coupeville’s second half death march continued from there, with BC putting together a 16-play, 85-yard scoring drive to bust open the game, followed by the Wolves suffering another disaster at the goal line.

It started with a first-and-goal from the Viking four-yard line, after CHS used a mix of Martin power runs and three Downes to Cameron Toomey-Stout passes to move 70 yards.

In the open field, the Wolves were moving, churning their way to glory. Up close, however, they stalled out.

Three incomplete passes and a run stuffed at the line later, any hopes of a comeback win were gone, and all Atkins could do was shake his head in frustration.

“Two Red Zone scores, we punch those in, we win,” he said. “We have 1,000 pounds on the line. We have to learn to push forward and be a little more nasty. We have to learn how to move that ball.”

Coupeville’s scoring came in the second quarter, as the two teams combined for 25 of the game’s 36 points and changed leads several times.

Bellevue kicker Mark Postma had staked his squad to an early 3-0 lead with a 25-yard field goal hit with enough foot to probably clear from 45 out.

After coming up empty on its first four possessions, Coupeville finally broke through, taking advantage of a fumble recovery deep in Viking territory.

Downes, rolling out at the BC 19-yard line, dropped the ball into the left corner, where Toomey-Stout made a sensational catch, dancing like he was back on the ballet stage he once graced in a production of “The Nutcracker.”

A blind ref shanked Wolf fans by claiming Camtastic had been knocked out at the half-yard line, but Coupeville shook it off with ease.

On the very next snap Toomey-Stout went the opposite way, curling into the right corner, and Downes deposited the ball on his waiting fingertips.

The touchdown toss was the 30th all-time for the senior gunslinger, pulling him within three of Brad Sherman’s CHS career record.

Downes also continued his pursuit of Sherman’s career record for passing yardage (3,613), cracking the 3,000-yard barrier on a 24-yard screen pass to Battaglia late in the first half.

While Toomey-Stout’s touchdown put Coupeville up 6-3, the Wolves PAT was blocked, then the teams exchanged scores in record time.

Bellevue bashed the ball in from three yards out to regain the lead at 10-6, only to watch Matt Hilborn take the ensuing kickoff all the way back.

The Wolf junior plucked the ball out of the air at the 15-yard line, spun into a pack of Viking tacklers, then somehow broke free, did several pirouettes, found a surprise gap in the defense and was off to the races.

Hugging the left sideline, he roared 85 yards to pay-dirt and wham, bam, Coupeville had the lead back as fast as it had lost it.

The Wolves couldn’t keep it, though, with a failed conversion pass limiting them to a 12-10 lead, which vanished right before the half on another short BC touchdown run.

Coupeville saved at least one point when Shane Losey blew through the line and blocked Bellevue’s extra point try. That kept the halftime deficit to what, at the time, seemed like a very manageable 16-12 tally.

Martin, a sophomore wearing the same number #32 his older brother Jacob did before him, had an especially strong game, plucking his first interception of the season.

He also rumbled for 67 yards (unofficially) as a rusher, all in the second half.

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   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:

Receiving:

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

Rushing:

33 carries for 128 yards
1 rushing TD

Passing:

1-1 for 67 yards

Defense:

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

Scoring:

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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   Caleb Meyer, with his #1 cheerleader, big sis Mckenzie, sealed Coupeville’s 14-13 win Wednesday with a last-second fumble recovery. (Frank Meyer photo)

The new stadium’s not fully built yet, but it’s already been baptized with a thriller of a win.

Playing in the shadows of a work crew slowly assembling glitzy new grandstands, the Coupeville Middle School football squad pulled off a wild 14-13 victory Wednesday over visiting Blue Heron.

To seal the victory, though, the Wolves had to come up with two epic plays in the final minute of play.

First, after surrendering a late touchdown toss from its Port Townsend-based rivals, Coupeville had to snuff out a two-point conversion attempt.

Then, as soon as that was done, the Wolves, having lost the ball after a bad bounce on the ensuing onside kick, had to make a huge defensive stand.

Instead of hanging tough on play after nerve-wracking play, CMS crushed the Blue Heron line on the very next play from scrimmage, forcing a fumble which bounced nearly from one side of the field to the other.

As players from both sides slammed into the turf, trying desperately to corral a seemingly greased-up ball which popped free not once, not twice, but three times, time stood still.

Until Wolf 8th grader Caleb Meyer, last heir to the Videoville legacy, pulled the ball into his chest and held on for dear life as every other player on the field fell on top of him.

Emerging from the heap a bit mussed, but flashing a mega-watt grin and holding the ball high, he elicited a tidal wave of cheers from Coupeville’s sidelines, where coaches Gabe Shaw and Ryan King led the celebration.

Filling in for Wolf head coach Bob Martin while he was out of town on real-world business, Shaw brought home the W, then passed out praise.

Logan Martin and Logan Wertz were “the dynamic duo,” controlling the line and “doing their due diligence hunting the ball on defense.”

Quarterback Xavier Murdy, who ran the offense while also finding time to pick off a pass on defense, did “a phenomenal job. He kept his composure when things got tight.”

Then, sweeping his hand across the horizon, his fingers pointing at each and every one of his players, Shaw nodded emphatically, grin on his face.

“Really, really nice support work from the whole crew … all the players and this crowd!”

Coupeville never trailed, jumping on Blue Heron for the game’s first score early in the second quarter.

Damon Stadler ripped through the defense, leaving a trail of would-be tacklers in his wake, as he plunged in from the five-yard line. Tack on a two-point kick from Murdy and CMS was staked to an 8-0 lead.

Two huge defensive plays from Scott Hilborn, plus a fumble recovery by Martin and a big break-up of a pass by Nezi Keiper, made the score stand up heading into the halftime break.

Hilborn, a slick-hitting, slick-fielding baseball star, may not be the biggest guy on the gridiron, but he picks his moments to play like a giant.

On the first play on his Wednesday highlight reel, Wendi and Steve Hilborn’s youngest chased down a Blue Heron kickoff returner, preventing a touchdown when he rammed the runner out of bounds a step or two shy of the end zone.

Coupeville’s defense stiffened, shoving the visitors back, then Hilborn struck again.

Facing fourth down, Blue Heron’s QB tried to roll out and look for a pass, only to have his plans thwarted when Hilborn, flying around from the side, brought him down with a sack.

To make the tackle, he had to grab the passer’s shoe, then yank with enough force to topple him before he could let loose with a toss. Mission accomplished.

Blue Heron finally got on the board midway through the third, marching down the field on a four-minute-plus drive that ended with an 18-yard scoring run to daylight.

Coupeville didn’t break, though, blocking the kick to keep the score tight at 8-6.

Then things got bonkers in the fourth.

Hold on to something, cause things are about to come flying at you.

Lunging for the end zone after a sweet catch over the middle, Coupeville’s Hawthorne Wolfe got popped hard from behind and the ball was jarred loose. Advantage, Blue Heron.

But Murdy promptly climbed the stairway to heaven, picking a pass. Advantage, Coupeville.

Hilborn made a sensational recovery off of a fumble by a teammate to keep the ensuing drive alive, before the Wolves used some trickery (Cody Roberts pulled off a TimTebow-in-his-college-prime hop and pass, hitting Stadler for a TD) to stretch the lead.

Big advantage, Coupeville.

Except … the visitors blocked the kick, then drove down field for a potential game-tying score of their own. Advantage, Blue Heron.

But the final advantage belonged to the guys in the red and black uniforms, sending a surprisingly large crowd to the exit with smiles and hugs all around.

The Wolves broke through Blue Heron’s line, preventing them from getting a kick off.

While the visitors picked the ball up and ran it in, middle school rules, aimed at encouraging kicking, are the reverse of those used in high school, college or the NFL, awarding two points for a kick and just one for a run or pass.

Still trailing, Blue Heron went for a miracle, and got part of it with the onside kick.

Enter Meyer, playing the role of the closer on the same field where his uncle, Michael, once cleared running room for Coupeville’s career rushing leader, Ian Barron.

As he carried the ball, and the win, off the field, Caleb (whose aunts Jennifer, Kathryn and Megan and big sis Mckenzie all starred in a variety of sports for the Wolves, as well) wrote another tale in his family’s book of athletic success.

It’s a pretty good bet there are a lot more chapters still to come.

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