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Football action like this may rule the gridiron again soon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Back to the gridiron. Maybe.

The Oak Harbor Football and Cheer League, which draws players from across Whidbey Island, plans to play a spring season.

If COVID-19 cooperates, that is, and Island County can get to Phase 2 in Governor Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan.

League President Eric Marshall announced a plan Monday in which football will play, but cheer will not.

“Unfortunately we will NOT be offering cheerleading this spring,” he said.

“Due to the short window for ordering uniforms, and the uncertainty of the season, we do not feel we can offer a quality cheer experience at this time.”

The current plan:

Jan. 18 — Registration opens, with a reduced cost of $100 per player due to “the shortened season and uncertainty of being able to play games.”

Feb. 15 — Registration closes, and league officials will determine if they have enough players to form teams. If not, full refunds will be issued.

Mar. 1 — First practice. No refunds after this point.

There will be three practices per week, at two hours each, with all practices closed to spectators.

Mar. 13 — Jamboree played.

Mar. 20 — First game — if Island County has advanced to Phase 2.

May 1 — Playoffs (semifinals).

May 8 — Super Saturday (championships)

“Our player’s safety always comes first,” Marshall said. “The league will be following ALL safe return to play guidelines and WIAA regulations, including facemasks, temperature checks, and social distancing.

“We hope you have all been staying safe and healthy during this past year,” he added. “We look forward to seeing you all again real soon.”

 

To register, pop over to:

www.ohfcl.org/home.php?layout=878060

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Coupeville senior Ben Smith poses during a visit to Culver-Stockton College. (Photo courtesy Deb Smith)

Ben Smith is Missouri-bound after graduation.

The Coupeville High School senior signed a letter of intent Friday to play football at Culver-Stockton College in Canton.

Repping a private Christian liberal arts college founded in 1853, the Wildcats compete in the 14-team Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Culver-Stockton is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

The Wildcats saw most of their season cancelled this fall due to COVID-19 concerns, but plan on being back on the field by the time Smith is in town.

Culver-Stockton’s defining moment this fall came in a 34-17 home win over Evangel (Mo.) in September.

Tom Sallay enters his fifth year as head coach of the ‘Cat program in 2021.

Puttin’ in work since day one. (Photo courtesy Deb Smith)

For Ben Smith, younger brother of former Coupeville track star Jacob Smith, Culver-Stockton just jumped out among the schools he had been in contact with.

“It fits my academic levels,” he said. “And the location of it is such a wonderful, beautiful state, and is a chance for me to get out and see more of the world.”

Smith plans to study Sports Management at the school, and continues to put in work preparing for the jump to another level of football.

He won’t know his spot on the roster until workouts begin, but coaches have talked to him about playing nickelback and running back.

While at CHS, Smith has been a two-way player, layin’ down licks on both sides of the ball.

He was a running back and defensive end last fall during his junior season.

Teaming up with senior Andrew Martin to form a wham-bam rushing combo, Smith had big games in wins over Vashon Island, Kittitas, and La Conner.

Now, like the rest of the Wolves, he’s hopeful the pandemic eases enough for a final high school gridiron season this spring.

Running over folks during his junior season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Smith is headed to a college with a long, rich history.

Originally known as Christian University, it survived several occupations during the Civil War, even after federal troops seized the joint, burning down fences and gutting buildings.

Rebuilt and refurbished, the school changed its name in 1917, in tribute to big-bucks donors Mary Culver and Robert Stockton.

Notable alumni from the school include opera singer Michèle Crider, former United States Senator Edward V. Long –who wrote the final draft of the Freedom of Information Act — and several professional athletes.

Bob Hendren and Jason Kaiser both played in the National Football League, while Harold Kottman hit the hardwood with the Boston Celtics.

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Will Coupeville High School football players return to Mickey Clark Field this spring? (David Stern photo)

High school football coaches from three states are pushing hard for government and health department officials to allow athletes to play this spring.

The West Coast Coaching Alliance organized in November, and represents California, Oregon, and Washington.

The group has been using social media to push its fight, with many football players posting videos to sites such as Instagram and Twitter this week.

Players were instructed to “thoughtfully consider the positive benefits of permitting students to participate in educationally based athletics activities,” use a positive tone, and avoid political messaging.

Unlike other protestors, the Alliance is not calling for education-based sports to immediately begin.

But the coaches want to see each state hold to its schedule for bringing back competition.

In Washington state, the current plan calls for traditional winter sports such as basketball to run from February 1 to March 20.

After that, fall sports would go March 15-May 1, with football beginning practices March 8.

Spring sports would cap a reduced 2020-2021 school athletic year, running from April 26 to June 12.

Each season would be seven weeks in length, with regional championship events likely replacing state tournaments.

However, with COVID cases and deaths spiking throughout the state, one of two things would have to happen for high school sports to start-up Feb. 1 in Washington.

Either case rates will have to rapidly fall over the next month-plus, or state officials will have to re-do (and loosen) current guidelines.

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director Mick Hoffman pushed for the latter in an op-ed piece — “They’re running out of time to make memories” | Coupeville Sports.

That’s a position favored by the Coaching Alliance, as well.

While acknowledging the reality of the pandemic, it points to other states which have played high school sports — some more successfully than others — as offering a road map the Western states could follow.

Their statement:

West Coast Coaching Alliance Statement (calcoachesassociation.net)

In the meantime, the social media campaign will continue, with coaches and advisors posting videos this Saturday, Dec. 12, followed by family, friends, and neighbors of high school athletes Dec. 19.

 

An example of the athlete videos:

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Former Wolf Cade Golden with dad Michael.

While Coupeville High School football players are hoping to play a delayed season this spring, two former Wolves just wrapped seasons in other states.

Gabe Shaw, whose family moved to Florida before this school year, was a junior lineman in the Sunshine state.

Meanwhile, Cade Golden, who suited up for Coupeville Middle School back in the day, wrapped up his prep run as a quarterback in Alabama.

Shaw, who was a crucial part of last fall’s CHS gridiron squad, which captured the program’s first winning record since 2005, now plays at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs.

The Blue Devils, who rep a 5A school, began the year 7-0 and finished 9-2, falling in their third playoff game.

Clay opened the postseason with 43-0 and 35-0 wins over Leesburg and Atlantic (Port Orange), respectively, before coming up on the short end of the stick 38-7 to Vanguard last Friday.

Shaw spent his first season in Florida pulling double duty, working as an offensive tackle and defensive end.

During his time in Coupeville, Golden flung the ball around for CMS, often targeting Jake Mitten.

After a move back to his family’s stomping grounds, the QB played at several schools, finishing his run at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama.

A powerhouse in the state, the Warriors won back-to-back 7A state titles during Golden’s junior and senior seasons.

The second of those came courtesy of one of the most stunning comebacks in recent prep history, as seen in this ESPN clip.

Golden was the backup to Thompson QB Conner Harrell, who threw for 3,400+ yards and 40 touchdowns this season, against just three interceptions.

The former Wolf completed five of six passes for 57 yards as a senior, tossing a TD against Sparkman.

While Golden might have preferred more playing time, the experience has been invaluable for his development.

“Thank you Thompson HS for an unforgettable last 2 years of HS Football,” the QB wrote on Twitter.

“I’ve learned so much that will help me in my next chapter of life. I truly appreciate and love my teammates and coaches.”

And don’t think Golden is being overlooked by talent scouts at the next level.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior (who also has a 4.0 GPA) has college offers from schools such as LaGrange College, Clarke University, Norwich University, and Sewanee: University of the South.

Coupeville grad Sarah Wright is currently a sophomore softball player at Sewanee.

Golden also has Preferred Walk-On offers from at least two NCAA D-1 schools, Florida State and Tennessee.

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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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