Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

CHS freshman Tim Ursu, giving up 100 or more pounds to 11 different South Whidbey players, twice picked up hard-earned first downs Friday on strong runs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“I’ll take this effort and fight any day.”

In less than two full seasons at the helm of the Coupeville High School football team, coach Marcus Carr has brought a new fire to the program.

The current incarnation of the Wolves already have their most wins in a single season since 2014, and even in their losses, have shown a fight missing in recent years.

While Carr wanted a win Friday night, a Homecoming victory against South Whidbey that would have given the Wolves ownership of The Bucket, he didn’t get it.

Coupeville fell 35-7 to a visiting Falcon team which boasts 14 seniors and twice as many 200+ pound players as a freshman-heavy Wolf roster does.

South Whidbey football, which came back from the brink of extinction thanks to the return of coach Mark Hodson, has earned its 5-2 record this year thanks to good, hard-nosed defensive play and an opportunistic offense.

But, even with the loss, which snaps a three-game winning streak, Coupeville is still sitting strong at 4-3 with two very winnable games left on its schedule.

A victory away from posting the first winning record by a CHS football team since 2005, this year’s squad hasn’t backed down from anyone.

And that’s why Carr could see the positives as he surveyed the field after Friday’s loss.

“We showed a lot of fight, fought hard against a big, strong team,” he said. “Our whole defensive unit really stood up for us and did their best to hold them, even when they were put in bad positions a lot of the time.”

South Whidbey entered the game on the heels of an agonizing loss on the road to Cedar Park Christian, a royal rumble where the Falcons surrendered the winning score on a 90+ yard drive during the final two minutes of action.

Coupeville came in having bounced La Conner, Kittitas, and Northwest Christian in succession, the last two after making epic road trips.

With both teams boasting 4-2 records at the start of the night, the best on Whidbey Island, as Oak Harbor struggles through a 1-6 rebuilding season which includes another loss Friday, the table was set.

For much of the first half, it was a war of attrition, with both teams moving the ball, only to find the opposing defense unwilling to bend.

The Wolves opened the game mixing up runs from Andrew Martin and Dakota Eck with a big pass play on which Gavin Straub shot from right to left at the last second and hauled in a quick heave from Dawson Houston.

Another pass play to Sean Toomey-Stout, this one also a 10-yard pick-up like Straub’s catch, had the Wolves on the move in Falcon territory.

But that was where things stalled out, with two penalties pushing the Wolves back, before they coughed up the ball on a fumble.

If South Whidbey thought it would immediately capitalize, it was wrong, however.

The Falcons had first-and-goal from the Wolf seven-yard line, only to have Coupeville drive them back, and hard.

CHS Homecoming King Gavin Knoblich, wearing an eye-popping pair of shoes, came hurtling through a hole in the line, chasing down a South Whidbey runner who bobbled the pitch, then had nowhere to go.

Putting his man down hard, the Wolf senior cost the Falcons 12 yards, and two plays later, the ball was back in Coupeville’s hands after a run over the middle went nowhere and a pass bounced short of its intended target.

That set a trend for the rest of the first quarter, as both defenses dominated.

Gabe Shaw, Martin, and Toomey-Stout refused to give the Falcons anything, but South Whidbey’s defense was just as smothering.

As the quarter ended, both teams fumbled the ball away under intense pressure, and the scoreboard showed nothing but zeroes at the first break.

A couple of long punts, and South Whidbey picking off a halfback pass, and the thought fans would never see a score lingered in the air.

But the Falcon seniors, who brought the program back from dark days, which included losses to Coupeville as freshmen and sophomores, changed the game.

First man up was Billy Rankin, a 5-foot-6, 142-pound sledgehammer, who finally busted through the Wolf defense, crashing around the left side for a 26-yard touchdown run with a little over eight minutes left in the first half.

Not content to sting the Wolves just once, he popped back up a few plays later, bringing back a Coupeville punt 40+ yards to set his offense up.

A face mask penalty on Coupeville on the ensuing drive was costly, and then Falcon senior Aiden Coleman powered in from three yards away to stretch the lead out.

Racing the halftime clock, the Wolves tried to get a drive rolling, only to have the referees bring out the chain crew to measure on THREE consecutive plays.

Unsung Wolf heroes Lark Gustafson and Randy Payne, earning their halftime treats, which included some pretty dang good brownies they shared with the press box crew, got their moment in the spotlight.

As well as some good-natured razzing from clock operator Joel Norris.

“Get ’em some oxygen! They’re gonna need it!!,” he giggled.

The third time was the charm, as Coupeville finally got their hard-earned first down. Only to see the drive sputter out on another pick off of a halfback pass, this one thrown by a different Wolf.

Even down 14-0 at the half, it still felt like the Wolves were very much in the game.

Until the Falcons smacked Cow Town with a one-two combo early in the third quarter.

First, South Whidbey QB Kole Nelson hooked up with tall target Brady Hezel on a 35-yard touchdown pass which stung even worse since it came on fourth-and-11.

Then, after coughing up another fumble on their very first offensive play after the ensuing kickoff, the Wolves sent a tired defense immediately back on the field.

Two plays later, Bodi Hezel joined his brother in the scoring column, slamming in on a short, effective run.

In just 24 seconds of game time, the score went from 14-0 to 28-0, then it stayed that way most of the rest of the way.

With the Falcons facing a fourth-and-five from the Wolf seven-yard line, Knoblich once again stood tall, blowing up the runner and forcing a turnover on downs.

But South Whidbey punched another ball free, before Brady Hezel picked off a pass on his side of the field and took off for a pick-six which covered 60+ yards and pushed the Falcon lead to 35-0.

Even down by five scores, the Wolves, as they have in every game this season, showed no quit.

Freshman Tim Ursu, who gives up 100 or more pounds to at least 11 Falcons, twice broke off runs which gave the Wolves first downs, while Toomey-Stout found a little razzle-dazzle to end the game on a positive note.

Following Brady Hezel’s pick-six, the Falcons lofted a kickoff which, like every punt or kick, went in the opposite direction of the much-feared man known as “The Torpedo.”

On this final kick, Jonathan Partida brought the ball down into his arms, then broke to the right.

Only, instead of running with it, he crossed up the Falcons, flipping the ball to the streak of light slashing across the field in his direction.

The ball on his fingertips, no matter what South Whidbey had intended, Toomey-Stout took two quick strides, burst through a pack of would-be tacklers, and was gone, baby, gone.

Covering 55 yards in a few powerful strides, the Wolf senior crossed the line for his seventh touchdown of the season. He’s scored five on pass receptions, one on a pick-six, and now, finally, one on a return.

And I say finally, since Toomey-Stout has had no less than three return touchdowns called back this season thanks to penalty flags thrown at his young blockers.

This time, the flags stayed safely tucked into the pockets of the officials, and the electric scoring play, punctuated by a booming PAT from frosh Daylon Houston, kept CHS from being shut out for the first time this season.

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Andrew Martin ran for 109 yards and a touchdown Friday night, while also forcing two fumble recoveries, as CHS football won its third-straight game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A different far-flung outpost every week.

As it winds its way through a season of redemption and growth, the Coupeville High School football team is visiting a lot of places off the normal schedule.

The recurring theme? The Wolves are also showing a lot of first-time viewers that they are a team to fear and respect.

Surviving its fourth trip away from Whidbey in the first six weeks of the campaign, Coupeville visited the black turf of Tenino High School Friday night, returning with a gritty 32-24 victory over Northwest Christian/Life Christian Academy.

The win, the third-straight for the streaking Wolves, lifts them to 4-2.

That gives them the most wins since the 2014 CHS squad went 5-5, and puts them on the cusp of something even bigger.

With three games left on the schedule — home games the next two weeks against South Whidbey and Anacortes, then a trip to Bellevue to play Interlake — the Wolves are one slim win away from posting Coupeville football’s first winning season since 2005.

To get where they currently are, the rebuilding Wolves have endured long bus and ferry trips, while building an identity as a team that can hurt foes on both sides of the ball.

Friday’s game, played out on a cool evening in the shadow of a wall of trees, with a lonely train whistle occasionally blasting off to the side (for a nice Twin Peaks feeling) was a game of big plays, some which crippled, others which ultimately thrilled.

The night’s hosts, two private schools united for gridiron action and awkwardly referred to as the Wolverines/Eagles, came complete with a rockin’ band and a unique Homecoming halftime show which featured all the winners being ID’d by their favorite bible verses.

To keep it simple, we’ll refer to them after this as just Northwest Christian, which is how they were listed on the schedule.

A reborn football program headed up by a Hall of Fame coach, NWC entered the night looking for its first win of the season, and almost got there.

Busting out unexpected big plays, with three first-half touchdowns all going for 73+ yards apiece, the Wolverines/Eagles headed to the halftime locker room up 18-14.

Coupeville had struck first, marching 52 yards in 11 plays, with Andrew Martin carrying the ball into the heart of the defense time and again, daring his rivals to bring him down as he administered bruises left and right.

With the defense softened up, limping and saying “owie,” the Wolves put the ball in the end zone on a 27-yard pass play which started with a fourth-down gamble.

Coupeville QB Dawson Houston, scrambling away from the defense, fired a ball to the far right side, where Sean Toomey-Stout hauled in the incoming pigskin.

There was a man in front of him, but, ball now in hand, “The Torpedo” stopped on a dime, juked the defender out of his shoes, then casually strolled past him and into the end zone for an electrifying six points.

And it stayed just six points, as a trend was started when Northwest Christian blocked the PAT.

Nine touchdowns were scored between the teams on this night, yet only once did either team successfully pull off a conversion or extra point.

Coupeville entered play in Tenino coming off of back-to-back shutouts, but any chances of making it 3-for-3 quickly went out the window when Northwest Christian knotted the game up at 6-6 mere moments later.

Caleb Garrison broke free from a pack of tacklers and bolted 73 yards down the left sideline — only the third-longest scoring play of the night — and we had ourselves a game.

Things got progressively wilder once the teams entered the second quarter.

Northwest Christian forced a fumble off a bone-crunching sack, only to promptly have one of their own receivers drop a sure-thing TD pass two plays later.

That put the ball back in the hands of Houston, and he hooked up with Toomey-Stout for a second scoring strike which was a near mirror image of their first successful duet.

This catch-and-run covered 21 yards, went to the right side instead of the left, but once again featured a NWC defender blown out of his shoes after being pump-faked into the nearby woods.

Toss in a two-point conversion run from Martin (cherish it, cause this is that lone successful conversion we mentioned earlier), and we were good and …

What, we’re not good?

No, we’re not.

The ensuing kickoff went one way, then came back in a hurry, carried by Daishaun Nichols, who bolted 82 yards straight up the middle, leaving a trail of would-be tacklers in his wake as he sent a jolt of energy through the otherwise fairly placid private school fans.

Liking the feeling of being successful, Northwest Christian took another hit of electricity soon after, picking off a Houston pass at the two-yard line, then sending Nichols off on another long jaunt.

This one, coming on a pitch to the right, followed by a nasty cutback, went just 81 yards, leaving Nichols screaming for the oxygen and Northwest Christian holding that halftime lead we discussed before.

But, this is a resilient Wolf team, and one which got an extra-long time to receive … we’ll call it constructive criticism … during their time in the locker room as the Homecoming biblical verse-off played out.

Revved up and rarin’ to go, Coupeville’s gridiron giants came out a different team in the second half, 24 minutes of time that it dominated in every facet of play.

It began with Martin forcing a fumble, slamming into a runner and causing his spine to crumble as the ball popped free and into the waiting hands of one Mr. Toomey-Stout.

It was the first of two times the duo would pull off the same play in the second half, with “The Torpedo” adding an interception, and Gabe Shaw, Isaiah Bittner, and Kai Wong terrorizing every NWC player in their vicinity.

With a fired-up defense once again bringing a smile to assistant coach Bennett Richter’s face, the Wolf offense jacked things up as well.

Coupeville reclaimed the lead on Houston’s third touchdown pass of the night, a 14-yard zipper that hit Gavin Knoblich right on the hands as the lanky receiver crossed left to right.

Up 20-18, the Wolves clamped down, with Toomey-Stout snaring his pick in the end zone to blunt a Northwest Christian first-and-goal opportunity from the seven-yard line.

Toss in the second Martin-inflicted fumble to open the fourth, and the host team kept stalling out in its bid to delight the Homecoming crowd.

But wanting to make sure the local fans knew all their hopes and dreams were really, truly dead, Coupeville put the game on ice (almost) with a three-play combo of delight and wonder.

First, Martin crashed in from five yards out for a touchdown with 8:23 to play.

That was set up by a truly spectacular 37-yard reception by Knoblich, who went airborne and snagged the ball between two defenders while free-falling backwards through all of time and space.

Then the Wolves successfully pulled off an onside kick, with Jonathan Partida dropping like a cat on the madly-bouncing ball.

Northwest Christian was reeling, so CHS immediately went for an uppercut, with Dakota Eck capping the three-play uprising by bolting over the right side for a 47-yard scoring run, his first touchdown of the season.

Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, it went from 20-18 to 32-18 in 12 seconds of elapsed scoreboard time, and we were done with this thing and…

We’re not done? Sweet son of a prickly pear…

Running seven plays in less than two minutes, with a 32-yard pass to the one-yard line a killer, Northwest Christian crashed into the end zone, still hoping for a miracle.

Wolverines/Eagles QB Nathan Joslin scored on a one-yard plunge, but he couldn’t get the ensuing two-point conversion, as Coupeville stepped up and slammed the door (almost) shut.

What followed is the stuff of dreams for football coaches.

Up by a single score, with 6:21 still on the clock, Coupeville punched Northwest Christian in the kisser, methodically moving down the field, chewing up yardage, and, more importantly, time.

Mixing in runs from Eck, Martin, and birthday boy Gavin Straub, the Wolves kept the chains and the clock turning over, before Houston sealed things with an 11-yard slant pass to Toomey-Stout on third-and-seven from midfield.

As Coupeville went into victory formation, kneeling down twice as the lonely train whistle echoed through the pine trees, it felt perfect.

Well, at least for the six or seven Wolf fans who made the long trek to witness the game in person.

Probably not so much for the hometown fans, but, what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger.

Coupeville put together its most-effective offensive night of the season, as Houston unofficially completed nine passes for 165 yards and a season-high three touchdowns.

Toomey-Stout hauled in six of those bombs, picking up 110 yards, while Knoblich (2-51) and Scott Hilborn (1-4) were also successful targets.

On the ground, the Wolves (again, unofficially) had its big two combine for 200 rushing yards, with Martin carrying the ball 25 times for 109 yards, and Eck scrambling 14 times for 91 yards.

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Quicksilver Sean Toomey-Stout makes the magic happen Saturday afternoon, leading Coupeville to a 28-0 win in Kittitas. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Beth Stout (left) and Lisa Toomey marinate in a proud mama (times two) moment. “We’ve raised him well, my dear.”

Back in action, Isaiah Bittner anchors the Wolf line.

Bracing against the Eastern Washington wind, Wolves (left to right) Alex Jimenez, Ben Smith, Kevin Partida, Dawson Houston, Kynel Hart, and Josh Upchurch get ready for action.

Her work done (for the moment, at least), team manager Melanie Navarro catches a brief, well-deserved break.

A pack of die-hard Wolf fans made the trip East for the game.

Deb Smith welcomes the paparazzi to town.

Dakota Eck returns one of his three interceptions.

Give him enough Diet Coke, and you can get a photographer to the other side of the state.

Wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken plunked himself in the press car with myself and Whidbey News-Times Sport Editor Jim Waller Saturday, and headed off to the wilds of Kittitas.

Once there, with the sweet sounds of vintage AC/DC and Def Leppard songs filling the air (the way the football gods intended it!), our resident camera clicker went to work, and the pics seen above are courtesy him.

To see everything Fisken shot while far from home, and possibly purchase some glossies for grandma, pop over to:


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Senior quarterback Dawson Houston threw for two touchdowns, and ran for two more Saturday as Coupeville pounded Kittitas 28-0. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Ben Smith slashes through the defense. (Deb Smith photos)

Sean Toomey-Stout, off to the races (and the end zone).

Is it too soon to talk about giving Bennett Richter a pay raise?

The Coupeville High School football program had rung up two shutouts across the last five seasons.

Now, after a 28-0 win Saturday at Kittitas, Richter, the team’s Defensive Coordinator, has dialed up that many goose eggs in just eight days.

The non-conference win in the wilds of Eastern Washington, a game in which the Wolves picked off the host Coyotes three times and forced numerous punts, lifts Coupeville to 3-2.

Having won three of its last four, CHS will turn right around and hit the road again in six days, traveling to Tenino to play a Northwest Christian squad which sits at 0-4 on the season.

As Coupeville seeks its first winning campaign since 2005, the current squad, with two shutouts, has already matched the best performance of any Wolf defense in the past 13 seasons.

The 2013 CHS team shutout Bellevue Christian 32-0 in its opener, then blanked Chimacum 54-0 in the season finale.

Frankly, putting positive goose eggs up on the scoreboard has been rare for the Wolves, with only three other shutouts during the 2006-2018 span.

The 2007 Wolves beat Concrete 34-0, the 2017 team blanked South Whidbey 18-0, and the 2018 squad baffled Vashon Island 13-0.

But now, Richter and his wild men, who were led by a tackle-happy Andrew Martin, a brain-busting Sean Toomey-Stout, and a sticky-fingered Dakota Eck, have piled up eight straight scoreless quarters.

First came a 13-0 win at home against La Conner last Friday, and now a complete shutdown of a school the Wolves had never played before.

Kittitas, which is the three-time defending 2B state champs in basketball, has not been as proficient on the gridiron of late, and they entered Saturday’s afternoon game bearing an eight-game losing skid dating back to September 2018.

The Coyotes set the scene well, though, with a beautiful stadium and one of the best sound systems Wolf fans have come into contact with.

Not only did it emit booming, crystal clear vocals, but it was pumping out tunes like Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” pre-game, which gets them extra credit from every sports blogger who came of age in the ’80s.

Then the game started and Coupeville immediately started pouring something on Kittitas, but, instead of sweet, sweet sugar, it was more like sweet, sweet pain from the heavens above.

Martin ripped the Coyote line in half on the very first play from scrimmage, scooping up the runner and planting him face-first into the grass with a thud which said, in no uncertain terms, “ANDY IS EATIN’ AT KFC TONIGHT!!”

Whether inspired by the chance to earn some tasty chicken products or not, Martin and his defensive comrades kept on coming, dominating at the line, shutting down the running game, and rarely being stung by the air attack.

Coupeville forced Kittitas into back-to-back punts to open the game, then struck on its second possession.

While the Wolves briefly sputtered out the first time they touched the ball, the second time was sweet perfection.

Ben Smith softened the Coyote defense with an eight-yard run to the outside, then bolted around the left for a massive 35-yard pickup on the very next play.

With Kittitas sucked in, the Wolves promptly went to the air, with quarterback Dawson Houston connecting with Toomey-Stout on a 16-yard pass which came a millimeter away from being the game’s first touchdown.

With the ref ruling “The Torpedo” came down just outside the goal line, Coupeville was denied for maybe half a second, then crashed to pay-dirt on the next play, with Houston keeping the ball and following his line into the end zone.

That set the tone for the rest of the game, during which time the Wolves controlled every aspect of play.

Eck, in his second game back after a brutal preseason injury, continued to show why CHS coaches and players were so excited about getting the speedy junior back on the active list.

A week ago he snagged a fumble against La Conner.

Saturday, Eck hauled in three interceptions, tying Toomey-Stout for this year’s best performance, with both falling just one pick shy of Brian Fakkema’s school single-game record from 2002.

The first of his snags came shortly after Houston’s touchdown ramble, and Eck almost turned it into a pick-six.

Knocked out at the one-yard line by a desperation shove, he handed the ball back to his QB and watched Houston once again stroll into the end zone behind a big push from the Wolf line.

Making it a family affair, lil’ brother Daylon Houston, a freshman with a powerhouse of a leg, nailed the PAT.

After hitting on three kicks through the first four games, he went 4-4 Saturday, and got happily pummeled by his big bro after each one.

Up 14-0, the Wolves continued to clamp down on Kittitas, with Kai Wong and Gabe Shaw rattling the teeth of Coyote runners who they stuffed, while Martin and Toomey-Stout hunted down and destroyed everyone in sight.

Coupeville tacked on two more scores to pad the lead, with Dawson Houston connecting with Toomey-Stout on long pass plays.

The first was a 25-yard bomb into the deep left corner with a hair under seven minutes to play in the second quarter.

Kittitas had two men in the area, but “The Torpedo,” poppin’ his biceps all the way, out-wrestled both defenders, coming down to Earth with sole possession of the ball.

The game’s final score came late in the third quarter, with CHS facing a fourth-and-10 from the Kittitas 19.

Houston spun backwards, Toomey-Stout shot across the middle, their eyes met, and the rest was kismet, as QB dropped the ball onto his receiver’s hands, and Wolf fans started their touchdown dances 0.2 seconds later.

While the touchdowns affected the scoreboard the most, the play which got the most buzz came midway through the third quarter, and from a young player whose legend grows with each play.

Freshman Tim Ursu is 105 pounds of fury unleashed, and he spent the Kittitas game crashing around on both offense (where he had several carries) and defense.

On the play in question, Houston lofted a pass towards the right sideline, a pass which looked like it was going way over Ursu’s head.

Instead, the fab frosh never broke stride, turned at the last second, stretched out to his very limit and hauled in the heave, even though he knew a Kittitas player was about to drill him as the ball carried him out of bounds.

Not only did Ursu hold on to the ball and complete the catch, but the ensuing penalty for a late hit gave Coupeville a first down, kept a drive alive, and induced much fist-pumping and yelling from Wolf coaches.

Timmy is working really hard, and making those catches in practice,” said CHS coach Marcus Carr. “I’m really proud of him and how he’s playing.”

Also big was a defensive stand on the game’s final possession, as the Wolves hunkered down to preserve their shutout.

For the first, and only time in the game, Kittitas got inside the Coupeville 10-yard line, and had third-and-goal from the four-yard line with time running out.

A Coyote team which has only scored 12 points in four games this year desperately wanted to punch the ball in, but Toomey-Stout shed a blocker and decked the incoming ball-carrier for a loss.

Then, on the game’s final play, a Kittitas pass into the end zone fell short, as Eck prevented his man from reaching back to grab it.

Cue the happy dance on the far sideline from Richter, the defensive guru with the scheme and the dream.

And cue excited Wolf lineman Isaiah Bittner, back in the lineup, celebrating with CHS assistant coach Kwamane Bowens, both filled with infectious happiness.

While there were still a few too many penalties for his liking, Coupeville’s head coach walked off the Kittitas field with a bit of a bounce in his step.

“We’re coming around,” Carr said. “We ran the ball really well in the first half, and that opened up the passing, and our whole defense played outstanding.”

Unofficially, Houston connected on seven passes for 120 yards, with Toomey-Stout hauling in five of those lobs for 102 yards and his third and fourth scores of the year.

Ben Smith was the workhorse in the rushing game, piling up 68 yards on 16 carries, while Houston’s pair of 1-yard scoring dives accounted for his second and third touchdowns this season.

The one down note coming out of the game was an injury to Smith, who suffered a likely concussion on a run up the middle in the fourth quarter.

He was taken to a local hospital, but was released and was showing signs of improvement on the trip home.

Still, it’s likely he will have to sit out Coupeville’s next game, even as the Wolves expect to get receiver Gavin Knoblich, who has snagged three touchdowns, back from his own concussion.

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“I must break you.” (Photo property Central Washington University football)

The line got some love.

In a rare move, Central Washington University bucked the football gods, handing out its Offensive Player of the Game award this week not to a quarterback, running back, or receiver, but to the dude holding the line together.

And that man-mountain making the heavens and the Earth tremble, leaving rivals lying in crumpled piles across the field is Coupeville’s own Nick Streubel.

The red-shirt senior was tabbed for the honor for his play Saturday against Western Oregon.

The official, Twitter-approved announcement:

Nick Streubel continues to be dominant at the line of scrimmage opening up running lanes for the RB’s.

A leader on the Offensive Line, the Offensive unit and the team as a whole.

Congrats on being named Offensive Player of the Game!

“The Big Hurt” is wrapping up a stellar gridiron career at CWU, during which time he’s been named an All-League and All-Region pick.

Back in his Coupeville days, Streubel was a three-sport standout, playing football, basketball and track and field.

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