Archive for the ‘Homecoming’ Category

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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With Coupeville High School football games moved from this fall to next spring, Homecoming won’t go down in October. (Photo by JohnPhotos.net)

You’ll have to wait a bit to return.

When the Coupeville High School football schedule was first posted back in March, there were five home games on a 10-game schedule.

With three of those games at Mickey Clark Field originally set for October, it seemed very likely Homecoming would fall on one of them.

But, before an official announcement could be made, COVID-19 swept every sports schedule clean.

Now, here we are, with online learning the reality of the day.

While CHS athletes are being allowed to do carefully-monitored off-season practices, the current plan is for actual competitions not to start until Jan.

Basketball will be up first, with football and other traditional fall sports filling a second season from Mar. 1-May 1.


So, I hadn’t put much thought into Homecoming festivities – either the game, the dance, the parade, or the week-long class competitions.

But I had a couple of parents ask recently if I had heard anything, so I fired up the Email 3000, and peppered the people in charge.

The answers were exactly what I anticipated – nothing is happening now.

“I don’t have any plans at the moment for any Homecoming activities,” said CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith as he worked on 10,001 different schedules, some of which might be used if games return.

The view from the head office was the same.

Homecoming, like most everything, is still in limbo.

“We will see if the season happens before planning Homecoming,” said Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King.

So, now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

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CHS Homecoming royalty Owen Barenburg and Knight Arndt gear up for the annual parade. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Shenanigans are afoot.

Senior royalty, left to right, Emma Mathusek, Tia Wurzrainer, Hannah Davidson, and Ashleigh Battaglia.

“Punch the gas, son! I got a juice box waiting for me at home!!”

The floats get festive.

Senior royalty guns it for the open road. Back (l to r) are Sean Toomey-Stout, Gabe Carlson, Jered Brown. Front: James Wood, Gavin Knoblich.

Chris Ruck is ready to rumble.

The teachers join the celebration.

Boys tennis makes a … racket.

Volleyball stars (l to r) Vivian Farris, Gwen Gustafson, and Taygin Jump hit the open road.

Before the game, before the dance, the biggest show arrived early.

With Coupeville High School celebrating Homecoming all week, the finale was kicked off Friday afternoon, when the annual parade snaked through town.

John Fisken snapped the pics seen above, and he has more to offer.

Pop over to the link below and this time all of his photos are available to be downloaded and shared for free:


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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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Gavin Knoblich is your 2019 Coupeville High School Homecoming King. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Tia Wurzrainer, three-sport star and ice cream scooper extraordinaire at Kapaws Iskreme, is your Homecoming Queen.

It all came down to taking a bite of a cupcake.

Ten seniors, nominated by their peers, formed the 2019 Coupeville High School Homecoming court, with the King and Queen revealed Friday night at halftime of the Wolf football game.

Each senior was handed a cupcake, with the winners revealed when their sugary treat turned out to be full of sprinkles.

Taking the crowns were Tia Wurzrainer and Gavin Knoblich, who both are three-sport athletes for the Wolves.

The rest of the Homecoming royalty:


Senior Princesses:

Ashleigh Battaglia
Hannah Davidson
Emma Mathusek
Maya Toomey-Stout


Senior Princes:

Jered Brown
Gabe Carlson
Sean Toomey-Stout
James Wood


Junior Princess:

Knight Arndt


Junior Prince:

Owen Barenburg


Sophomore Princess:

Ja’Kenya Hoskins


Sophomore Prince:

Andrew Aparicio


Freshman Princess:

Nezi Keiper


Freshman Prince:

Alex Murdy


Faculty Duchess:

Stephanie Ask


Faculty Duke:

Kyle Nelson

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