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Gavin St Onge is a key part of the first Coupeville High School football team to post a winning record since 2005. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It is done.

All the big plays on the turf, all the work off the field, all the blood, sweat, and tears in the locker room, the weight room, and on the practice field, paid off Friday night.

Unleashing a dominating defense, the Coupeville High School football squad stuffed visiting Anacortes 18-7, claiming their fourth win in their last five games and clinching the program’s first winning season since 2005.

Now 5-3, with just a trip to Bellevue to play Interlake left on the schedule, the Wolves have silenced the ghosts of the past.

There have been 13 complete seasons since the last time a Coupeville gridiron team finished on the plus side of the ledger.

Twelve losing years and one .500 mark in 2014.

Six head coaches, numerous assistants and managers and ball boys, and hundreds of players.

It’s been a lifetime.

Literally, since none of this year’s Wolf seniors were even in kindergarten in 2005.

But there they were Friday night, Coupeville’s seven seniors, Andrew Martin, Jonathan Partida, Sean Toomey-Stout, Dawson Houston and the three Gavin’s – Straub, Knoblich, and St Onge.

Each one pulling off big plays, each one writing a memory they will never forget, each one walking off Mickey Clark Field for the final time, having accomplished what so many others before them had been unable to achieve.

And, in the midst of a field full of celebrating players, family members, classmates, friends and fans, second-year Coupeville coach Marcus Carr stood off to the side, a giant, quiet smile gracing his face.

“It means a lot; I really wanted this for these seniors,” he said. “We’ve been rebuilding the program, and changing the culture, and sending them out on this high note … it means everything.

“This team as a whole has put in the work, on the field, and in the times when no one sees it,” Carr added. “I am so proud of them all.”

Coming into their home finale, the big question was how the Wolves would bounce back after a hard-fought loss last week to Island rival South Whidbey.

Anacortes was a bit of an unknown, as well.

The Seahawks rep a solidly-sized 2A school, while Coupeville is among the smallest 1A schools in the state.

With Coupeville breaking from the North Sound Conference and playing an independent schedule this season, CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith had to scramble to pull together a schedule.

With Anacortes also being in a severe rebuilding phase, the Wolf head man rolled the dice on this one, and it paid off with a very-competitive game between comparable teams.

The visitors had a 32-25 advantage in players, but have no seniors this season and just three juniors, including fleet-footed starting quarterback Joseph Cutter.

With 18 freshmen on the roster, the Seahawks scheduled three games against varsity teams such as Coupeville and six against JV squads, and entered Friday at 5-2 and on a five-game winning streak.

The Wolves, who boast 10 freshmen of their own, came out strong however, and never backed down.

On offense, Coupeville employed a ferocious running attack, with Andrew Martin putting together a career-best night under the lights to key a Wolf attack which rang up 200+ yards.

Running like equally hard-nosed older brother Jacob did before him, #42 doesn’t always get enough credit for how he has played through countless nagging injuries while wreaking havoc as a two-way warrior.

I’ve seen Andy hobble into an IHop after a game, moving like an 80-year-old man, but pity anyone who gets between “Ham-bone” and the biscuits ‘n gravy awaiting him.

When he runs, slamming at full tilt into every potential tackler, daring them to bring him to the ground, the youngest heir to the Martin football legacy defines the word “beast.”

Friday night, legs churning through the grass on his home field for the final time, he racked up an unofficial 137 rushing yards on 27 carries, scoring all three of Coupeville’s touchdowns.

Add nice runs from Dakota Eck, Scott Hilborn, and Toomey-Stout, plus big-time catches by Knoblich and Toomey-Stout and the Wolves were moving the ball.

When they had the ball, that is.

Coupeville only had a single possession in the first quarter, yet led 6-0 when the teams went to the break.

Wolf frosh Daylon Houston, showing off his big leg, mashed the opening kickoff, giving Anacortes the first crack at scoring, and the Seahawks came out with a mix of plays.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

In the early going, Anacortes had exactly one play it ran. Maybe 1.5.

Using a little razzle-dazzle and trickery to keep the Wolf defense guessing where the ball was going, the result was always the same — Cutter kept the ball and dodged would-be tacklers.

The half of a play was the Seahawks QB’s ability to use deceptive hand claps when signalling his center to hike the ball, getting Coupeville to jump off-sides several times on the opening drive.

Anacortes had the end zone in its sights, and then, whammo, one play changed everything.

Facing a third-and-two from Coupeville’s 25, the Seahawks went to their bread-and-butter play, and Martin, throwing blockers out of his way with both hands, stepped up and tried to rip Cutter in half.

Burying the Anacortes QB in the backfield, he dropped him for a five-yard loss, and effectively ended the drive on the spot.

Sure, Cutter still had one more play, but it was a wobbly fourth-down pass from a guy still trying to get the stars out of his eyes, and it fell harmlessly over the middle.

Handed the ball for the first time, Coupeville QB Dawson Houston and Co. made short work of it, piling up 69 yards on seven plays, with Martin eventually crashing in for a three-yard touchdown run.

Before we got to that point, Eck ripped off back-to-back 10-yard-plus runs, and Martin blew up the Hawk defense on a 36-yard rumble.

On that one, he went up the middle, hit a different gear, skidded to a halt midway through the run to lurch around a tackler, then carried a pack of screaming Seahawks on his back for another couple steps.

Anacortes had some fight in it, however, and actually took the lead for a short time, using a three-yard scoring run from Cutter on the first play of the second quarter.

It was a pretty, pretty play, as the Hawk gunslinger went right, skidded back to his left, dodged a potential sack, then swept around the left side and beat three Wolves to the goal line by a step.

Coupeville’s answer? A nine-play, 62-yard drive on the next possession, with Martin’s 15-yard scoring run giving the Wolves a lead they would never relinquish.

While the running game kept the Seahawks on their heels, the big play on the drive was an 18-yard pass to Knoblich, with Houston zinging the ball over the middle to his tall target as he slashed from left to right.

With the score 12-7 in favor of CHS, the two teams went into a defensive stalemate across the remainder of the second quarter.

The Wolves recovered an onside kick, with Partida flying in from the left side to snag Daylon Houston’s perfectly-placed kick, but their next drive stalled out at the Anacortes 20 thanks to a lost fumble.

Coming out of the halftime break, Coupeville put the game on ice with a nine-play, 69-yard drive which wore five minutes off the clock.

Martin was a battering ram, and ended things with a one-yard TD plunge, but it was Toomey-Stout who made the highlight reel pop with a 30-yard catch-and-run.

Dawson Houston’s pass was crisp and on the hands, but it was the work after the catch, when “The Torpedo” picked up the final 10 yards while fighting through three defenders, which made the crowd lose it.

Anacortes should have brought Toomey-Stout down, but, every muscle in his body poppin’, the Wolf senior kept on churning, each step sweet agony as he drove the Hawk trio back, step by step.

When the Seahawks get up Saturday morning, and every part of their bodies ache, they will remember that play, and they will wince. And then wince some more for years to come.

For four years, Sean, like older brother Cameron and twin sister Maya, has been a relentless worker, in the weight room, in the classroom, and on the practice field.

Plays like that, when you make dang sure they will always remember you, is why he does what he does.

From that point on, the scoring was done, but the big plays weren’t.

With Coupeville Defensive Coordinator Bennett Richter sending his guys running wild, the Wolves got savage.

Eck came flying around the side and dragged a runner down in the backfield for a big loss.

Straub hammered another Hawk, also driving him backwards when he wanted to go forward.

Ben Smith, who always brings the fire and the energy, lived out the words of Muhammad Ali, to “rumble, young man, rumble.”

Gabe Shaw and St Onge and Kai Wong and Isaiah Bittner and all the linemen stepped up and smacked people.

And then, to close out the game, the home stand, and 13 long seasons of struggle, Coupeville put the ball in the hands of Andrew Martin.

One, two, three, four, five times in a row he ran the ball, each time charging into the heart of the defense with a laugh on his lips as he crushed those who dared to step into his path.

Across the five plays, Martin picked up the final 27 yards of his night, but each play meant more than that.

Each thump, each thwack, each crunch, echoed up, through the stands, and across the prairie.

The sounds of Martin’s success, the sounds of his team’s rebirth, carried on the slight Whidbey breeze which wafted through the stadium, and the message was loud and clear.

The past is dead.

It’s a new day for Wolf football.

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Kylie Chernikoff racked up 10 digs and eight kills Tuesday, as Coupeville’s JV battled nearly evenly with 2A Anacortes. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Never give in, never give up.

Coupeville High School JV volleyball coach Chris Smith is all about improvement and fighting until that last moment, regardless of the score.

So, while his Wolf squad fell in three sets Tuesday at Anacortes, evening their early-season record at 1-1, he departed the gym with a positive attitude still in place.

“We started off a little slow, but made progress every set,” Smith said. “The key for me is progress, and they are lucky it wasn’t a best of seven contest!”

Facing off with a “tough-serving” 2A team which “did an excellent job of keeping the volleyball off the floor on their side of the court,” the Wolves fell 25-11, 25-16, 27-26.

“Overall, we survived to play another day,” Smith said. “We will learn and move on!”

One particular bright spot was how the Wolves shared the load, with multiple players filling up the stat sheet.

Freshman Maddie Georges doled out nine assists while running the attack as Coupeville’s setter, adding two digs and a service ace to her line.

Kylie Chernikoff was a two-way warrior, pounding a team-high eight kills to go with 10 digs, while Taygin Jump and Alita Blouin chipped in with two kills apiece.

The fab frosh duo were equally as impressive when it came time to pull the ball off the floor, with Blouin notching a team-best 11 digs and Jump picking up seven of her own.

Jaimee Masters (three digs), Anya Leavell (a kill), and Heidi Meyers (a dig and an ace) also penned their names in the stat book.

The Wolf JV returns to action next Tuesday, Sept. 24, when they host Cedar Park Christian in their North Sound Conference opener.

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Maddie Vondrak smoked seven kills Tuesday as 1A Coupeville toppled 2A Anacortes in volleyball action. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lucy Sandahl (8) and Zoe Trujillo both played strongly for a Wolf team which got big contributions from everyone on the roster. (Brian Vick photo)

When you’re knocking down big trees, you bring your best axe.

Big 2A Anacortes High School features six players on its varsity volleyball roster who stand behind 5-foot-10 and 6’1.

Lil’ 1A Coupeville … does not.

But it mattered not Tuesday, as the Wolves carved up their taller foes, heading back to the bus with a 25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 25-17 victory.

The non-conference win lifts Coupeville to a pristine 2-0 heading into its home opener Saturday against Chimacum.

Its the fourth-straight season, all under the guidance of Cory Whitmore, that the Wolf spikers have opened a season with multiple wins.

Coupeville has gone 2-0, 2-0, and 5-0 to start the previous three campaigns.

The key to knocking off Anacortes for a second-straight year was showing no fear.

“We aren’t strangers to being the shorter of two teams on the court, but the height difference between us and Anacortes these last two seasons has been noticeable,” Whitmore said. “I’m really proud of the way that this team didn’t let something like taller players kill their tenacity and heart.”

What the Wolves might lack in height is more than made up for in talent and desire.

Embrace what you are, instead of worrying about what you aren’t.

“It was important for us to start to build and develop on our identity tonight,” Whitmore said. “We served very tough, which pushed their strong hitters off the net and it was our stable defense that allowed us to transition points our way.”

“All six of our serving rotations were strong and that was important for us to rack up some aces, or at the very least push their hitters off the net turning defense into offense.”

Coupeville spread out the love at the service stripe, with Lucy Sandahl and Scout Smith leading the way with three aces each.

Raven Vick (2), Maya Toomey-Stout (2), Hannah Davidson (1), and Chelsea Prescott (1) all chipped in to the ace parade as well.

That style of play, of each Wolf on the floor doing their part to form a powerful nucleus, left their coach wearing a smile.

“Tonight was especially fun, because we had huge contributions from a lot of different players,” Whitmore said.

“We expect a lot from Maya, Hannah, and Scout, both offensively and defensively, so for them to perform is always huge,” he added. “But I was especially impressed with Chelsea, Zoe Trujillo and Maddie Vondrak’s offensive efficiency.

“All three took advantage of their opportunities and it will be big for us to establish them as offensive threats.”

Mixing and matching players, the Wolf coach hit pay dirt with almost every lineup.

Lucy and Raven Vick (also) came in and played very key roles, serving and defense,” Whitmore said. “I’m really proud of the balanced nature of this win.”

The stat sheet was bursting by the end of the match, with Smith (35 assists) and Toomey-Stout (13 kills and 21 digs) pacing their squad.

Emma Mathusek went low for 15 digs, while Prescott (nine kills, seven digs), Trujillo (eight kills), Davidson (eight kills), Vondrak (seven kills), and Sandahl (five digs) all played at the top of their games.

The Wolves controlled the net, with Smith, Prescott, and Vondrak collecting solo blocks.

As Coupeville heads back to Whidbey to start a three-game home stand, Whitmore and crew are ready for the challenges ahead.

“Plenty that we need to tighten up and situations we’ll need to prepare for,” he said. “But this was a big team effort and a confidence booster.”

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Freshman Ryanne Knoblich had seven kills Tuesday as Coupeville’s C-Team spikers demolished Anacortes. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The stars of the future, supporting their older teammates today. (Brian Vick photo)

They kicked the season off with a bang.

The Coupeville High School C-Team volleyball players exited Anacortes Tuesday night flush with the thrill of victory.

Having dismantled the 2A Seahawks 25-15, 25-13, 25-10, the Wolves and new coach Krimson Rector sit at a flawless 1-0, with their home debut set for a week from tonight.

Getting production across the board, Coupeville came out strong and never took its foot off the gas pedal.

“It was great to get the first game jitters out and start our season strong,” Rector said.

The Wolves set up their success with pin-point accuracy at the service stripe, peppering Anacortes with nasty balls that were often nonreturnable.

Allie Lucero recorded a team-high 11 aces, while Maya Lucero, Vivian Farris, and Jordyn Rogers chipped in with five apiece.

When the ball did stay in play, the Wolves were efficient at the net, with Ryanne Knoblich (seven kills), Gwen Gustafson (six kills), and Jill Prince (four kills and three blocks) dominating play.

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Gavin Knoblich and Coupeville football face several new opponents this fall. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

First things first.

There is one way, and one way only, that Coupeville High School football can make the playoffs this fall.

The Wolves go 9-0 for the first time since 1990, or it’s regular season and done.

When CHS opted to bounce from the North Sound Conference for a season and play an independent schedule, school officials made the decision fully aware it closed off most avenues to the postseason.

That being said, Coupeville football hasn’t posted a winning record since going 6-5 in 2005.

Since then, there’s been a 5-5 finish in 2014 and 12 losing seasons.

So, maybe we won’t worry about the playoffs right now.

The biggest stumbling blocks for the Wolf gridiron program have been a lack of numbers, a lack of big bodies among those players actually on the field, and a whole lot of churn on the coaching staff.

Current CHS head man Marcus Carr is starting his second season and seems deeply committed, with a strong staff working at his side. That’s a definite positive.

Still, Coupeville has had five head coaches in the last decade, since Ron Bagby retired after 26 years at the helm of the program.

Part of the rebuilding process for Carr and school Athletic Director Willie Smith is trying to get the Wolves back on a semi-level playing field, allowing the program to grow.

All indications are that CHS will step down to 2B starting with the 2020-2021 school year, which is when new classification counts take effect.

Until then, taking a year off from league play, skipping King’s and Cedar Park Christian and company while allowing Smith to craft a (hopefully) more-favorable schedule, should help.

Looking at what awaits the Wolves this fall, it’s a schedule with four home games and five on the road.

Four games are against 2B schools, and three versus 1A institutions, plus one game apiece against 2A and 3A foes.

Five of the opponents, including the first four, are against schools Coupeville is familiar with. Then are four match-ups which will offer the Wolves a chance to experience new things.

To get you ready, we offer up a little breakdown of the schedule, game by game:

 

Friday-Sept. 6 — Port Townsend

Kickoff: 6 PM

Miles to travel: None

Classification: 1A

Coach: Patrick Gaffney

Mascot: RedHawks

2018 record: 4-6

Players on preseason roster: 20

Past history: Coupeville won 28-18 in last year’s season opener in Port Townsend. The teams have played numerous times, most notably when they were both in the Olympic League between 2014-2017.

Fun fact: Port Townsend and Chimacum combined for 130 points in a FOOTBALL game last season, with the RedHawks winning 79-51.

 

Friday-Sept. 13 — @ Vashon Island

Kickoff: 6 PM

Miles to travel: 73.6 miles

Classification: 1A

Coach: Clay Eastly

Mascot: Pirates

2018 record: 1-9

Players on preseason roster: 21

Past history: Coupeville won 13-0 last year on Whidbey. Wolves have beaten Pirates three straight seasons.

“Fun” fact: Last time Vashon beat CHS came in 2015 … when Pirate running back Bryce Hoisington went off for a state single-game record 573 rushing yards against the Wolves. He also broke the state single-season rushing mark, and, thankfully, has since graduated.

 

Friday-Sept. 20 — @ Friday Harbor

Kickoff: 6:30 PM

Miles to travel: 48.4

Classification: 2B

Coach: Brock Hauck

Mascot: Wolverines

2018 record: 6-3

Players on preseason roster: 19

Past history: Coupeville lost 17-0 last year on Whidbey. First time the schools clashed in several years, but they have been on and off again rivals over the decades.

Fun fact: Friday Harbor finished in a tie with Concrete for the Northwest League title last season, but lost a mini-playoff game 7-6. With a state playoff berth on the line, the difference turned out to be a heavily-disputed two-point conversion run, with the refs ruling Friday Harbor failed to break the goal line.

 

Friday-Sept. 27 — La Conner

Kickoff: 7 PM

Miles to travel: None

Classification: 2B

Coach: Peter Voorhees

Mascot: Braves

2018 record: 1-8

Players on preseason roster: 37

Past history: Coupeville won 33-12 at La Conner last year. Wolves have won two straight against one of their oldest rivals.

Fun fact: Has one of the best home-field National Anthem traditions in Washington state. As the singer finishes with “and the home of the brave,” La Conner football players raise their helmets and scream “Braves” in place of the final word.

 

Saturday-Oct. 5 — @ Kittitas

Kickoff: 3 PM

Miles to travel: 165.3

Classification: 2B

Coach: Dusty Hutchinson

Mascot: Coyotes

2018 record: 1-7

Players on preseason roster: Not available; no roster for last season listed, either.

Past history: Never played (as far as I know).

Fun fact: Won their third-straight boys basketball state title this past winter. Star guard Brock Ravet, who is headed to Gonzaga on a full-ride scholarship, finished his career as the state’s all-time leading scorer.

 

Friday-Oct. 11 — @ Northwest Christian

Kickoff: 7 PM

Miles to travel: 131.9 (School is in Lacey, but game at Tenino)

Classification: 2B

Coach: Mark Smith

Mascot: Wolverines

2018 record: Didn’t play

Players on preseason roster: Not available

Past history: New football program

Fun facts: Private school may not have a football history, but it’s a powerhouse in cross country, with the girls team winning nine straight state titles between 2006-2014.

School was the Navigators (with an alligator mascot known as … Navi the Gator), but are switching to Wolverines. To which I say, why, and, booooooooo.

Football coach Mark Smith is no newbie. He’s in the state hall of fame for track and field coaches, and won 174 games in 23 years as the football coach at Tacoma Baptist, taking that school to the state title game three times.

 

Fri-Oct. 18 — South Whidbey

Kickoff: 7 PM

Miles to travel: None

Classification: 1A

Coach: Mark Hodson

Mascot: Falcons

2018 record: 6-4

Players on preseason roster: Not available. Had 36 last season.

Past history: Coupeville lost 48-20 last year in Langley, allowing Falcons to regain possession of The Bucket. Wolves had won four of previous six clashes against their arch-rivals.

Fun fact: South Whidbey, which won just four games between 2014-2016, went the independent schedule route, and it paid off big time.

Playing 2B and Canadian schools, Falcons rebounded with a 7-2 record, then carried that over into 2018, when they joined the new North Sound Conference.

 

Fri-Oct. 25 — Anacortes

Kickoff: TBA

Miles to travel: None

Classification: 2A

Coach: Chris Hunter

Mascot: Seahawks

2018 record: 0-9

Players on preseason roster: Not available. Had 31 last season.

Past history: Haven’t played football against each other in decades. Used to be a rivalry back when players wore leather helmets.

Fun fact: Anacortes has lost 13 straight games. Seahawks last tasted victory the night of Sept. 29, 2017, when they beat Blaine 36-30.

 

Fri-Nov. 1 — @ Interlake

Kickoff: 7 PM

Miles to travel: 58.6 (Bellevue)

Classification: 3A

Coach: Shawn Hartline

Mascot: Saints

2018 record: 2-7

Players on preseason roster: 45

Past history: Have never played (as far as I know).

Fun fact: Famous alumni included baseball legend John Olerud, as well as musicians Nancy Wilson (Heart), and Chris DeGarmo (Queensrÿche).

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