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Mickey Clark Field waits. (David Stern photo)

Better safe than sorry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls on, Coupeville High School Athletic Director Willie Smith has been at the forefront of making sure the Wolves remain diligent in how they conduct business in the Age of Coronavirus.

When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association opened the chance for schools to start workouts for their athletes — there will be no games until at least January — CHS took advantage.

But Smith has also been a hawk in making sure Health Department guidelines are followed by his coaches and athletes every step of the way.

So, with that in mind, he put a temporary hold on some activities starting late last week.

While there have been no positive COVID cases publicly reported among participants in the CHS practices, the start of cold and flu season has everyone looking twice as hard at every wayward sniffle.

Which is why some recent practices for sports such as football have been cancelled.

“Some of our student athletes have colds or cold-like symptoms and as an Athletic Department we have chosen to postpone the optional practices that those students participate in as a precautionary measure,” Smith said.

“As soon as we are able, we will begin offering our optional sports practices once again.”

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Wolf QB Jason McFadyen operates under center during a practice in 1990. (Photo courtesy Carmen McFadyen)

The past is present again.

Next Tuesday – November 10 – marks the 30th anniversary of arguably the second-biggest game in Coupeville High School athletic history.

It’s hard to top the 1970 boys basketball district title game, when the Wolves toppled Darrington in front of 2,000+ fans.

That was the game when Jeff Stone torched the nets for 48 points, without the benefit of the three-point bomb, a single-game CHS mark which hasn’t been matched in 50 years.

Even more importantly, by winning that game, Coupeville beat Oak Harbor and Langley to the promised land, becoming the first Whidbey Island hoops squad to win a district title.

But the anniversary of that titanic hardwood tilt already passed earlier this year, and was talked about back then.

Today, in the time frame when football season would normally be wrapping up, we return to 1990.

Mariah Carey topped the musical charts with Love Takes Time as the morning of Saturday, Nov. 10 dawned.

George H.W. Bush was in the White House, and, at movie theaters, Child’s Play 2 was becoming the third-straight horror thriller to top the box office charts, following hot on the heels of Graveyard Shift and Jacob’s Ladder.

But Chucky’s reign would be a short one, at just one week, as a lil’ juggernaut called Home Alone was days away from release.

America so loved seeing Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get abused, the film stayed #1 for 12 consecutive weeks, a feat matched by only four other films.

But, while they were home Nov. 10, 1990, the members of the CHS football team were not alone.

Instead, on an especially-gusty day, head coach Ron Bagby and his crew were surrounded by fans, as they took to the turf at Mickey Clark Field to host a WIAA state quarterfinal playoff game.

A win away from a trip to the Tacoma Dome (with a journey to the Kingdome on tap if they made the state final), the ’90 Wolves were, without argument, the most-successful team in program history.

Using a pounding ground attack and a feisty defense, Coupeville was 9-0, and had outscored opponents 258-107.

The Wolves had won a league title, their first on the gridiron since 1974, and the program was making its fourth state playoff appearance, and first at home.

Coupeville had shredded its rivals all year, but the defining win was likely a 10-0 whitewashing of Concrete, which was the reigning powerhouse in the Northwest B League.

Frank Marti capped a 122-yard rushing performance with a one-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth quarter, then Brad Haslam dropped the punctuation mark with a 34-yard field goal.

The stage was set for continued success as the playoffs kicked off, but, ultimately, Coupeville had to accept the role of Child’s Play 2, and not Home Alone, as it lost 34-14 to visiting Rainier.

The Mountaineers would go on to blank Adna 16-0 in the semifinals, before falling 13-3 to Reardan in the state title game.

While it wasn’t the end Coupeville coaches, players, and fans wanted, that 1990 team still towers above any other football squad to wear the red and black.

It’s final 9-1 record remains the best in program history, and, 30 years out, Wolf football has yet to win another league title or return to the state playoffs.

As we roll up on the anniversary of their quarterfinal clash, it would be nice if CHS could do an in-person event to commemorate those players and coaches.

Of course, the ongoing pandemic makes that impossible.

But, we can run through the roll call one more time, and give them an online tribute.

So, 30 years later, still the greatest football team in Coupeville High School history is:

 

Coaches:

Ron Bagby
Brian O’Hara
Tom Roehl (RIP)
Jon Prater

 

Manager:

Brent Fitzgerald

 

Seniors:

Brian Barr
Ben Biskovich
Sean Dillon
Chris Frey
Les Hall
Mark Lester
Frank Marti
Jason McFadyen
Ryan Samplawski
Aaron Williams

 

Juniors:

Danny Bonacci
Matt Cross
Brad Haslam
Van Kellems
Ben Russell
Todd Smith
Nate Steele
Tracy Wilson

 

Sophomores:

Troy Blouin
Todd Brown
Ted Clifton
Eric Lester
Craig McGregor
Gerald McIntosh
Jason McManigle
David McMillan

 

Freshmen:

Ross Buckner
Scott Gadbois
Scott Kirkwood
Kit Manzanares
Jerimiah Prater
Virgil Roehl
Joe Staples
Kevin Steiner

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Mickey Clark Field has many stories to tell. (David Stern photo)

One bright, shining moment in time.

Travel back 28 years, then tack on two days, and you arrive at Friday, Oct. 30, 1992.

The #1 song in America was End of the Road by Boyz II Men, part of a then-record 13-week run atop the Billboard charts for Philly’s finest R&B crooners.

Meanwhile, a still-sleek Steven Seagal pummeled all comers in Under Siege, wrapping its fourth, and final weekend, as the top box office draw at movie theaters.

Down home in Coupeville, however, the focus was on Homecoming.

I was at the beginning of my two-year run as Sports Editor at the Whidbey News-Times, though I had already spent a fair amount of time camped out as a freelance reporter in the (already) rickety press box at Mickey Clark Field.

There weren’t as many bees running wild in the finest box built for 2.5 men as there would one day be, but the crisp air was probably helping that situation.

I can’t say for sure (memories fade), but I’m pretty sure I was sharing the box with CHS teachers Mark Gale and Tom Eller that night – the former on the mic, the latter workin’ the clock.

And, as he always was fond of doing in the days before we had an actual working horn, Eller would signal the end of quarters by firing off a starter’s pistol over the head of those crammed into the tiny stands.

First, he would warn people it was about to happen, so they could cover their ears.

Then, he would patiently wait for them to uncover their ears, before leaning out the open window, popping the gun, and laughing like a madman.

Good times.

On the night of Oct. 30, 1992, Coupeville entered its game at 1-4 in Cascade League play, 3-4 overall.

Facing off with bigger schools, the scrappy Wolves, just pushed up to 1A from 2B, always had their work cut out for them, but never backed off lest head coach Ron Bagby put a boot in their butts.

This time around, Foster, out of Tukwila, was the opponent, and the visitors controlled things for much of the night, building a 21-6 lead after three quarters.

Things had briefly perked up for Wolf fans when Homecoming royalty was announced at the half, with Videoville employee Gina Dozier crowned as Queen, while Jason McManigle copped King honors.

Rounding out the royalty were fellow seniors Joli Smith and Troy Blouin, juniors Greta Robinett and Jason Hughes, sophomores Mimi Iverson and Ryan McManigle, and freshmen Lark Eelkema and Jason Jordan.

But down 21-6, and with their ears still ringing from Eller’s shenanigans, the Coupeville faithful were in low spirits as we entered the final quarter.

At which point, Bagby stuck his boot in some butts, and changed everything.

A suddenly fired-up Wolf squad erupted as the clock ticked down, pulling off one of the great comeback wins in school history, no matter the sport.

Blouin, running the team at quarterback, struck first, careening into the end zone on a lil’ one-yard plunge.

That cut the score to 21-12, and even though the ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed badly, hope lived once again on the prairie.

The Wolf defense, which included rampaging linebacker Kevin Steiner, who spent much of the game harassing Foster’s quarterback, stuffed the visitors in short order, setting Coupeville up for some offensive razzle-dazzle.

Pump-faking the Foster defenders out of their shoes, Blouin flipped a quick pitch to Wolf running back Todd Brown, a beast who spent most games putting his head down and crushing the ribs of anyone foolhardy enough to try and tackle him.

In this moment, however, Brown stepped back and let rip, dropping a 32-yard scoring strike right onto the fingertips of a streaking Kit Manzanares.

Coupeville was coming full-tilt, and yet, to make things really exciting, they first missed the PAT, leaving their deficit at 21-18.

While Bagby contemplated making his kicking team run laps until Monday morning classes began, the Wolf defense eased his angst.

Pinning Foster deep on a third-and-extremely long, CHS crashed the line, and Foster melted like popsicles during an August heat wave.

Scrambling madly, the Foster QB got popped from the right, the left, the front, and, probably, the back.

At which point, the pigskin left his hands, went airborne for a second, then flopped to the grass, sending every Wolf in the vicinity diving for the turf.

Bodies writhed, several players were likely kicked in the nads, and then one single, solitary dude in red and black popped up, holding on to the ball and causing Eller to scream something which sounded like “Sweet sassy molassy!!” directly into my ear.

Who scored that game-changing touchdown, which lifted Coupeville, after a rare successful PAT, to a 25-21 lead?

That’s lost to time, as, grass-stained jerseys, and low-wattage stadium lights, made it hard to read numbers, and my ’92 story awards no credit.

So here’s to you, Mr. Anonymous.

But … wait … that wasn’t the final play of the game.

The slowest-moving clock in football country still had a sizable amount of ticks left on it, allowing Foster a chance to come back.

Which they did not, of course, or you wouldn’t be reading this story now, would you?

Coupeville forced Foster to turn the ball over on downs one more time, then went to run out the clock and … promptly fumbled the freakin’ ball away.

Cue the Foster QB turning into 1992 Dan Marino (so, super-scary), as he drove the visitors downfield, setting up one final bomb into the end zone with five seconds to play.

The ball went airborne, descending into a pack of players squirming like worms in a clump in the end zone.

Every Wolf fan and their sister sucked in their breath, Eller mumbled a prayer, then all of that pent-up air came whooshing back out, sending a blast that almost knocked Bagby (rockin’ the short shorts) off his feet.

The reason for the exhale?

Blouin came charging out of the scrum, holding the football aloft, and the Wolves, who had been under siege all night, had reached the end of their Homecoming road as champs.

Exactly the way Bagby drew it up in the pre-game meeting.

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Coupeville High School football had a golden season in 1974, and Homecoming was a particular treat. (Photo courtesy Chuck Hardee)

Best Homecoming ever?

It’s certainly up there, as 1974 was a golden year for Coupeville High School football.

That team became the first modern-era Wolf gridiron squad to win a league title, something CHS has only repeated once since then, when 1990’s unit went undefeated through the regular season.

While Coupeville may not be a football factory, it has had its moments, as you can see in the preserved recap of that ’74 rout of Chimacum.

The memento comes to us courtesy Chuck Hardee, who plunged into the end zone twice that night.

And now the spotlight can turn to you.

Have photos, newspaper clippings, memorabilia or such from anywhere in the history of Coupeville prep sports, which stretches back to around 1900?

Go clean your attics and your basements, or harass Grandma until she gives up the goods, then email me at davidsvien@hotmail.com.

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Dawson Houston flings it downfield. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Dawson Houston lived in every world.

The 2020 Coupeville High School grad was that rarity, an athlete who found success in vastly different environments.

On the one hand, he was a two-year starter at quarterback for the Wolf football team, the leader of a squad which broke an epic run of frustration by achieving a winning record his senior season.

Coupeville hadn’t posted a positive mark on the gridiron since back around Dawson’s kindergarten year, but led by their veteran gunslinger, they stood tall in the fall of 2019.

Winning four of five at one point, while traveling near and far, the Wolves finished 5-4.

That included road wins in far-flung outposts like Vashon Island, Kittitas, and Tenino, as well as a solid victory against 2A Anacortes.

Not bad for a 2B-sized school in its final season of being forced to play in the 1A division.

Capping his prep career in style, Dawson was the calm center for Coupeville as it flashed back to gridiron glory not seen since the olden days of 2005.

Eyes glinting behind his glasses, the kid could gun the ball downfield, breaking off several successful long bombs during the season.

But he was smart enough to know when to play it cool, when to get the ball into Sean Toomey-Stout’s hands or Andy Martin’s mitts, and let his game-busters shred the defense.

Dawson, ambling along like the small-town cowboy he is, had the drive and passion, but also a genuine calmness under fire, and it seeped out to all his teammates.

He also had a huge smile on his face most days, and a surprisingly firm handshake for a high school guy.

As he and his teammates trotted out of the locker room, Dawson always took a moment to welcome the media to his field, a low-key, friendly dude even when his emotions were likely pinging all over the place prior to kickoff.

That carried over to how he treated his teammates.

While he had some key accomplishments of his own, Dawson’s happiest moments on the football field all seemed to come when someone else achieved their dream, often with his help.

As a senior leader for the Wolves, he shared the field with younger brother Daylon, a freshman, and saved his biggest celebration for when his sibling booted an extra point after big bro had plunged into the end zone for a CHS touchdown.

As a senior, Dawson shared the field with younger brother Daylon (3), as well as Ben Smith. (Deb Smith photo)

But here’s where the story takes a somewhat unexpected turn.

Dawson, a football player through and through, also found great success as a … cheerleader.

Oh, it’s true.

After years of only being a sideline squad, the Wolves returned to the world of competitive cheer and shocked folks by immediately claiming 3rd place at the state meet in early 2019.

Skip forward a season, and Coupeville coach BreAnna Boon was looking for more.

So, she convinced Wolf football stars Gavin St Onge and our man of the moment, Dawson, to make the leap into a whole new world.

With added strength, the Wolves could increase the degree of difficulty on their stunts, and they soared.

All the way to Disneyworld.

With Dawson helping lift and fling his new teammates, the Wolves bypassed state and made it all the way to nationals.

As they did, they showcased what a mixed roster of girls and boys can accomplish on the competition cheer mats, perhaps sparking the continued evolution of the CHS cheer program.

Dawson also found success as a competitive cheerleader alongside (l to r) Ja’Tarya Hoskins, Emily Fiedler, and Melia Welling. (BreAnna Boon photo)

A trailblazer and a leader, plus a pretty talented courtesy clerk at the local grocery store, Dawson exited high school life as a genuine winner.

Today, he takes another step, entering a new dimension, one he’s fully earned.

With doors flung wide open, we welcome Dawson to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, if you wander past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, you’ll find him hanging out there, shoulder to shoulder with the great QB’s and cheerleaders of the past.

One man, two worlds, always a class act.

Senior Night with the family. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

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