Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

   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.


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.

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Jeff and Cindy Rhubottom. (Contributed photos)

   A flashback to the days when Rhubottom terrorized Wolf rivals on the hardwood.

   The socks were extraordinary, and so was their ability to put the ball in the hoop.

“Respect yourself. Respect your school.”

Jeff Rhubottom was one of the best athletes to ever walk the hallways of Coupeville High School, and he lived by that credo.

A 6-foot-4 tower of power, the 1978 Wolf grad was a 12-time letter winner (four times each in football, basketball and track and field), a two-time All-Conference hoops player and the school record holder in the high jump for more than a decade.

While fellow football player Rich Wilson (6-4) nipped Rhubottom’s mark (6-2) in 2000 — and retains the school record 17 years later — Rhubottom’s legacy still looms large.

He torched the basketball nets for 459 points his senior season in 1977-1978, the second-best single-season mark ever put up a Wolf, boy or girl.

Over the course of four seasons, while sharing the ball with some of the biggest scorers and sweetest shooters in CHS hoops history, he finished with 1,012 points.

In 100 seasons of Wolf boys basketball, only Jeff Stone (1137), Mike Bagby (1104) and Rhubottom contemporary Randy Keefe (1088) have topped that.

While he enjoyed his other sports (he was a tight end/outside linebacker in football and a sprinter, relay runner and state meet-qualifying high jumper on the track oval), basketball was always Rhubottom’s favorite.

“Making the starting five on the varsity squad in basketball my sophomore year” was a particular highlight, which allowed him to “play with great athletes like Bill Jarrell, Randy Keefe, Marc Bisset and Foster Faris.”

That unit played for legendary CHS coach Bob Barker, a man who had a huge positive impact on Rhubottom.

“Coach Barker (was a favorite) for his professionalism,” Rhubottom said. “I remember him quoting as he was handing out our red blazers, ‘You’re representing yourself as an athlete and you’re representing Coupeville High School’.”

CHS football coach Pat Lippincott and track guru Craig Pedlar (“great teacher, great coach”) also helped shaped the young Rhubottom into the man he became.

“Coach Pedlar brought Michael Ellsworth, Jeff Fielding, and myself to the State A Finals in Yakima in 1978,” Rhubottom said. “It was great to be involved with great athletes of the school.

“It’s what you did on Friday nights.”

Whether it was standing tall at the state tourney or ripping through the line to block a punt against Concrete, before scooping up the loose ball and taking it to the house for a touchdown, Rhubottom played with passion, for himself and his teammates.

“I loved and respected the athletic program, playing with great athletes in a small town.”

The lessons he learned as a Wolf benefited Rhubottom as he went on to build his own family (he has a son, Jeff, Jr.) and a career in the painting business.

“Working hard and being responsible and trying to stay in the best physical shape as the years go by. Keeping active,” have been his guiding principals.

Rhubottom considers himself “totally blessed,” having been married to Cindy, “the most beautiful, loving wife, mother, and grandmother” until she lost her battle with cancer in September, 2016.

Being “surrounded by loving new and old family” has helped him greatly.

As he looks back at his own career, Rhubottom calls on today’s Wolves to seize the day.

“Respect yourself. Respect your school. Give 110%. Enjoy the experience,” he said. “Have fun, because it goes by quick.

“Keep active. Always love the sport,” Rhubottom added. “It was fun to take a trip down memory road of my athletic career at Coupeville High School. These are memories I will cherish forever.”

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Teo Keilwitz (left) and Clay Reilly take down a Falcon. (John Fisken photos)

Hunter Smith dives for the end zone. Spoiler: he made it.

   Ignoring the man mountain headed his way, Wolf QB Joel Walstad prepares to fire a TD pass.

You can’t get away from Jacob Martin.

Every game matters, but one matters just a bit more.

Coupeville and South Whidbey were made to be arch-rivals, reasonably close in student body size and proximity, and their turf war has been a memorable one over the years, regardless of sport.

But when the Wolves and Falcons meet on the gridiron, there’s a little something extra at stake, as that clash is the only one which has a trophy.

“The Bucket” (literally a large bucket with each school’s logo on one side) is a fairly recent invention, a way to settle a feud which blossomed at a volleyball match about a decade back.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith hatched the idea and now, each fall, the victor claims the trophy and owns it for the next year.

Coupeville will carry The Bucket with it when it heads to Langley this year, kicking off a new school sports year Friday, Sept. 1, still basking in last year’s 41-10 rout of the Falcons.

With CHS coach Jon Atkins entering his second year at the helm, he’ll try and do something which evaded his recent predecessors — Jay Silver, Tony Maggio and Brett Smedley — and guide the Wolves to back-to-back wins in the grudge match.

After busting a five-year run of South Whidbey wins with an 18-13 victory in 2012, Coupeville fell 57-33 in 2013, won 35-28 in 2014, lost 27-14 in 2015 then romped to a win last year.

Silver (0-2) and Smedley (0-1) never beat the Falcons, while Maggio’s success (2-1) included him out-coaching former college coach Chris Tormey in 2014.

This time around, South Whidbey has turned to former long-time coach Mark Hodson, who was recruited to save a program in free-fall.

The Falcons, who lost their final seven games last season en route to a 1-8 mark, are taking a break from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference (at least for a season) and will play an independent football schedule this fall.

After opening with fellow 1A schools Coupeville and Chimacum, South Whidbey will face Valley View Secondary, a Canadian team.

Then it’s on to six straight games against 2B schools — Ocosta, Friday Harbor,  La Conner, Darrington, Concrete and Liberty Bell.

Not having to face Cascade Conference foes like ATM, Cedarcrest or King’s will give Hodson and Co. a chance to rebuild a roster which was severely depleted from previous seasons.

Regardless of record (Coupeville was 3-7 last season), the season-opening match-up of Wolves and Falcons is huge.

The winner gets bragging rights to go with possession of The Bucket, an undefeated record (for at least a week), an emotional boost and memories.

As we sit here, a mere 23 days away from this year’s clash, a handful of Coupeville players looked back at their own battles and what they remember:

JR Pendergrass:

My sophomore year, we were beating South Whidbey and we had the ball, running the clock down.

The player across from me on the line kept hitting me every time we took a knee to run the clock, because we were winning, and it took all the power in my being not to plant him in the ground.

Raymond Beiriger:

Junior year, it was my first year playing. And even though I was JV, we all went to watch the varsity play, and watching them fight for something that meant everything to them.

It really inspired me to play my senior year and try harder.

Watching them win The Bucket was amazing and I was super happy.

Uriel Liquidano:

Best memory was last year when South Whidbey was talking all this smack about how they where going to beat us and take The Bucket, that was pretty funny.

Good times, gonna miss playing on a Friday night. #OurBucket.

Jacob Martin:

Breaking a 70-yard TD and scoring the first TD of the game!

Korbin Korzan:

Sophomore year, varsity OLB, we won The Bucket. One of my best high school memories of all time.

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   Cameron Toomey-Stout (11) and Co. will seek a second-straight win over South Whidbey when the season kicks off Sept. 1. (John Fisken photo)

Well, it’s a start.

Coming off a 3-7 season (in which it was two plays from being 5-5), the Coupeville High School football team is ranked ahead of 2,631 other teams nationally in a preseason poll.

Of course, before you get super excited, MaxPreps, which is behind these way-too-early-and-based-on-little-of-substance rankings, has 14,546 schools in its poll.

So, the Wolves are looking upwards at a few thousand teams.

Officially, CHS sits #38 in 1A, #234 in Washington state and #11,915 nationally in the rankings.

California juggernaut Mater Dei is #1 in the USA, while Atlanta’s Cross Keys sits dead last at #14,546.

As always, there’s more to the story than just the ranking.

According to an online story I briefly skimmed, Cross Keys is the most culturally diverse school in Georgia, with students from 65 countries who speak 75 different languages.

It’s a school of immigrants, many of whom are playing football (at least the American version) for the first time, which is why at one point the school had won just 16 games across 18 seasons.

But back to Coupeville.

Last season was the first year of a two-year test run on combining the Olympic and Nisqually Leagues for football, with the Wolves finishing 6th out of eight teams.

The MaxPreps “rankings” aren’t based on the views of coaches, writers and fans, but off of previous win-loss records, quality of wins and strength of schedule.

While the 2017 preseason standings are semi-close to being a mirror image of the 2016 results, they do project Charles Wright Academy hurdling Klahowya and Coupeville skipping past Bellevue Christian.

Take it with a grain of salt, but here’s how the Wolves stack up with the 10 schools they’re scheduled to play this season.

PS — Nooksack, La Conner and South Whidbey are non-conference foes, and La Conner is a 2B and not a 1A school. The Braves are ranked #8 in their classification.

School 1A State Nation
Cascade Christian #5 #67 #4,628
Nooksack Valley #12 #104 #6,338
La Conner #141 #8,137
Port Townsend #24 #190 #10,188
Charles Wright #31 #210 #10,890
Klahowya #36 #229 #11,676
COUPEVILLE #38 #234 #11,915
Bellevue Christian #45 #257 #12,729
Vashon Island #49 #286 #13,930
South Whidbey #50 #290 #14,086
Chimacum #51 #292 #14,105

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   Want to be a football star like Jacob Martin? Gotta jump through The Man’s hoops first — get a physical, fill out paperwork, etc. (John Fisken photo)

The gym will be hopping Thursday.

In preparation for the start of fall sports, a Middle School/High School Sports Day will run 12-8 PM in the CHS gym complex.

Sports paperwork and payments will be accepted until 6 PM in the high school gym, while physicals will be offered until 8 PM in the middle school gym.

Cost for physicals is $45, with all proceeds going to the Coupeville Booster Club’s scholarship fund.

To set up an appointment, call 1-636-675-1632.

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