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Maddie Vondrak and fellow Wolf athletes are off to a new league next year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Changes, changes.

What we know for sure – Coupeville High School athletic teams drop from 1A to 2B next year, and the Wolves will take up residence in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

That reignites old-school rivalries, while also meaning next year’s seniors will be in their third league in four years.

As freshmen, they witnessed Coupeville’s final go-round in the 1A Olympic League.

Now, after two years in the 1A North Sound Conference, Class of 2021 athletes lead their fellow Wolves into the new frontier.

But, as we head back, who awaits our arrival?

Orcas Island, for one, where Oprah Winfrey reportedly dropped 8.3 million on a 43-acre secluded compound.

And there’s Darrington, birthplace of longtime Price is Right host (and Happy Gilmore co-star) Bob Barker.

Toss in four other schools, and you have a party.

 

Concrete:

Classification in 2020-2021 — 1B (drops from 2B)

Mascot: Lions

Team state titles: football (1984, 1985); softball (2007)

 

Darrington:

Classification: 1B (drops from 2B)

Mascot: Loggers

Team state titles: boys basketball (1955, 1957, 2003); baseball (1981)

 

Friday Harbor:

Classification: 2B

Mascot: Wolverines

Team state titles: volleyball (1986) 

 

La Conner:

Classification: 2B

Mascot: Braves

Team state titles: volleyball (2002, 2006, 2007, 2018)

 

Mount Vernon Christian:

Classification: 1B

Mascot: Hurricanes

Team state titles: None

 

Orcas Island:

Classification: 1B (drops from 2B)

Mascot: Vikings

Team state titles: girls soccer (2009)

 

With the move from 1A to 2B, boys soccer bounces from the spring to the fall, as 2B plays both girls and boys soccer in the same season.

That shifts Coupeville from having five sports in the fall, two in the winter, and five in the spring to a set-up of six-two-four.

The Wolves don’t currently wrestle or play golf like many of their new league mates do, while some of those schools opt of sports in which CHS fields teams.

The outlook, at least at the moment:

 

FALL:

 

Volleyball:

All six teams play, but not everyone plays like La Conner.

The Braves are the defending 2B state champs, and open the 2019 big dance Thursday against Willapa Valley.

La Conner is 16-0 this season, 20-0 last year, and has won 37 straight matches dating back to the final consolation match of the 2017 state tourney.

In Northwest League play, they have at least nine straight undefeated campaigns.

I say “at least” because the league’s website only goes back as far as 2011, with La Conner rolling to 10-0, 10-0, 10-0, 12-0, 7-0, 6-0, 7-0, 7-0, and 10-0 marks in that time.

Mount Vernon Christian couldn’t beat the Braves this year, but they are also at state, and open the 1B tourney Thursday against Klickitat-Glenwood

 

Football:

Friday Harbor, Concrete, and La Conner play, while Orcas and MVC don’t. Darrington has been playing eight-man football in a separate 1B league.

La Conner won the league title in 2016, the last year Orcas fielded a team, then has been stuck in rebuilding mode.

Concrete won in 2017, the last year Darrington played 11-man ball, then shared the title in 2018 with Friday Harbor.

That ’17 Lions title team was coached by Marcus Carr, who left Concrete after that season to take over the Coupeville football program.

Friday Harbor rolled to the title in convincing fashion this fall, and opens the state tourney Nov. 16 at Lake Roosevelt.

 

Cross Country:

Only MVC and Orcas field teams, with the Hurricane boys finishing 16th in the team standings at the 1B state meet this fall.

 

Boys Tennis:

Only Friday Harbor fields a team.

There were several years where Coupeville and Friday formed a two-team mini-league, though the Wolves have spent the past two seasons joining South Whidbey and playing in the private school-dominated 1A Emerald City League.

 

Girls Soccer:

MVC, La Conner, Orcas, and Friday Harbor play, while Concrete and Darrington don’t.

The Hurricanes (15-1-1) and Wolverines (8-7) both play Saturday in the quarterfinals of the state tourney, which combines 1B and 2B teams.

The league has been a competitive one in recent years, with La Conner winning conference titles in 2016 and 2017, before Friday Harbor came out on top in 2018, and MVC this fall.

 

Boys Soccer:

Orcas, MVC, Friday Harbor, and La Conner play, while Darrington and Concrete don’t.

The four NWL teams are joined by Providence Christian, Grace Academy, and Lopez for this sport.

League champ Orcas (14-1) and runner-up Friday Harbor (14-4) both play Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 1B/2B state tourney.

The Vikings have won back-to-back league crowns, after Providence Christian (2017) and MVC (2016) claimed the previous two regular-season titles.

 

WINTER:

 

Girls Basketball:

Everyone plays, and almost everyone chases La Conner.

The Braves have won five straight league titles, sharing the crown with Friday Harbor in 2015-2016 and claiming the other four crowns outright.

Darrington was the last team to hold off La Conner, ruling the league in 2013-2014.

 

Boys Basketball:

Everyone plays, with Friday Harbor winning the last two, and three of the last five titles.

In between, Orcas claimed the crown in 2016-2017, and La Conner was king in 2015-2016.

 

SPRING:

 

Softball:

Everyone except MVC plays.

Friday Harbor has been the big baddie, but it would be a shame if someone came along to blow up the league.

While the Wolverines have won five straight titles dating back to 2014-2015, they have gone 1-4 in non-conference games against Coupeville in that time.

After losing 7-6 in 2015, CHS has won 11-1, 9-4, 13-4, and 18-17 the past four seasons.

The two teams, who both advanced to state and won games there last season, meet Mar. 17 on Friday Harbor in a final non-conference tilt.

The following spring, the true battle begins.

 

Baseball:

Everyone plays, with Friday Harbor, which got knocked out in the state quarterfinals last spring, having won four straight titles.

The last three have been outright, while the Wolverines shared the 2015-2016 crown with La Conner, who won outright the season before.

 

Girls Tennis:

Only Friday Harbor fields a team, and the Coupeville female netters, unlike their male counterparts, played inside the North Sound Conference.

A two team mini-league with a lot of non-conference matches? Some kind of hook-up with another league for just one sport? Your guess is as good as mine at this point.

 

Track and Field:

La Conner, MVC, Concrete, and Friday Harbor field teams, while Darrington and Orcas don’t.

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If Coupeville moves down from 1A to 2B, only one of these athletes, freshman Xavier Murdy (right), could still be playing when it happens. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change may be coming, but we’ll have to wait a bit for its full impact to hit.

When the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association meets Jan. 28 for its winter coalition, the group’s 53-member¬†Representative Assembly will vote on two amendments which could radically alter how schools are classified for sports competition.

Rule 4.2.0 will “establish hard line numbers for high school classifications” while rule 4.3.0 “adjusts enrollment figures based upon percentage of free and reduced lunches.”

A 60% “yes” vote is needed to pass, and all indications are both amendments will easily clear that threshold.

If that happens, it could be huge for Coupeville High School. As one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, CHS could likely move down to 2B, where it resided for many decades.

But, and this is important, the WIAA confirmed this week that any changes to the classification system will not take effect until the 2020-2021 school year.

What does that mean for CHS athletes?

If you’re a current senior or junior, you will finish your prep athletic career in the 1A North Sound Conference. No one and done, it’s our home for at least two school years, this current one and the next.

After that, everything is in play.

The next classification count happens this year, either way, with each school tallying up students currently in grades 9-11.

If the second amendment passes, administrators will look at the state average for free and reduced lunches, and see how their school stacks up.

In an effort to better balance the field between rich (often private) schools and ones who struggle financially, schools above the state average would get to reduce their student body count by the same percentage.

That could allow some schools to drop down a classification, though they can’t jump more than one level.

After that, if the first amendment passes, the WIAA will no longer try to balance the number of schools in each classification, as it has for the past decade-plus.

That’s huge for Coupeville, which had 2B numbers during the last count in 2016, but was pushed back up to 1A in the effort to keep balance between the divisions.

CHS, after losing 10% of its student body in two years, appealed in 2018 to drop down, but was denied.

If hard line numbers are used, this is how the classification system will look in 2020:

4A — 1300+ students
3A — 900-1299
2A — 450-899
1A — 225-449
2B — 105-224
1B — 1-104

Once a school does its count, and uses the adjustment for free/reduced lunches (if above the state average), they will know where they sit, and no longer have to wait to see if they are bumped for “parity.”

Those classifications remain in effect for four years, and schools can appeal their status during the second year.

Schools can still opt to play up a classification, such as Archbishop Murphy currently does, competing as a 2A school while having a 1A-level student body count, but can’t opt down.

If CHS lands between 105-224 students, which appears possible, it would likely return to the Northwest B League in 2020, rejoining Concrete, La Conner and other foes it faced on a regular basis up through the ’80s.

If not, the 1A North Sound Conference, which Coupeville joined in 2018 after four seasons in the 1A Olympic League, will still be there waiting, though its current six-team look could change.

Granite Falls only recently slipped down from 2A to 1A after an appeal, while King’s and Cedar Park Christian, as private schools, won’t be helped by the free/reduced lunch amendment, and could actually be hurt.

There has been discussion about going the opposite way with private schools, automatically adding a certain percentage to the student body count. Whether that will become a reality is one of many things to keep an eye on if the amendments pass.

While going with hard line numbers seems like an ideal choice, the WIAA resisted for some time because of the likelihood some classifications would become substantially bigger than others.

If one classification has, say, 20 more schools than another, than it’s harder for each school at the more-crowded level to earn a berth at a state tournament.

The compromise is, if the amendments pass, state tourney fields will no longer have to be the same size at all levels.

If we’re operating under hard line numbers in 2020, here’s how it breaks down:

84+ schools in a classification = 24-team state tourney
69-83 schools = 20-team state tourney
53-68 schools = (traditional) 16-team state tourney
37-52 schools = 12-team state tourney
20-36 schools = 8-team state tourney
19 or less schools = combine with the division above for state tourney

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