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Cade Golden

A flashback to middle school days in Coupeville. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One came back.

Back in 2016, Coupeville Middle School football coach Bob Martin had a roster full of talented players.

Then life stepped in, with at least six of those guys departing.

Two chose to attend high school in Oak Harbor, while four left Whidbey Island after family moves.

But now, in a pleasant plot twist, Cade Golden — the big-armed quarterback from that group — is returning to finish his prep career where it began.

After playing three seasons in Alabama, the last two for a school which won back-to-back 7A state titles, he will suit up as a senior for Coupeville High School when the pandemic-shortened season begins March 29.

The move back to The Rock reunites Golden with former CMS teammates such as Ben Smith, Sage Downes, and Dakota Eck.

“I’m extremely excited!!,” Golden said. “I can’t wait to see everyone and get to work.”

After his family returned to its Alabama roots, moving to be closer to relatives, the QB played at several schools, finishing his run there at Thompson High School in Alabaster.

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

While he didn’t start for the state champs, Golden’s work ethic and talent (plus a 4.0 GPA) has attracted a fair amount of college heat.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, he has offers from schools such as LaGrange College, Clarke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Norwich University, Birmingham-Southern, and Sewanee: University of the South.

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

While Golden is excited for the return to Coupeville, the feeling is equaled by his former (and future) teammates.

“With how minimal this season is, it’s great to have him back there,” Ben Smith said. “Especially with how crucial this season goal is, and his work ethic for goals like that is what we need on this team right now.

“I’m happy to have him back and he’s gonna do great things here once again.”

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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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Michael Golden

It was a tough decision, but family had to come first.

Michael Golden, who was hired this off-season to be an assistant football coach at Coupeville High School, is not on the field with the Wolves as they plow through the first week of fall practice.

Instead, he, his wife and their two sons, have returned to Alabama.

Golden’s grandparents, and several other family members, have substantial health issues, and as the oldest grandson, he wanted to be a rock for his family.

“It was a difficult decision. All of our family is in Alabama, but it was like we had a family here in Coupeville as well,” Golden said.

“We will return to visit and I hope at some point we’ll back in Coupeville for good.”

After he and his family moved to Whidbey Island last year, Golden worked as an assistant under Bob Martin with the Coupeville Middle School gridiron squad.

With his oldest son, Cade, entering his freshman year of football, Golden was set to jump up a rung alongside him.

“I really like the direction they’re going in,” Golden said. “I like (CHS Athletic Director) Willie (Smith) and the high school staff and Bob has been like a brother to me.”

With the family in Alabama, Cade, the starting QB during his time at Coupeville Middle School, is taking snaps at Pell City High School, his dad’s alma mater.

He’s doing so in weather which is miles away from what the family experienced in Washington state, with 92 degrees and “a lot of humidity” being the order of the day Tuesday in the deep South.

“We miss the Coupeville weather!,” Michael Golden said with a laugh.

Back in Coupeville, the decision of how to fill the open coaching job is still up in the air.

Josh Welshans, who previously helped with the CHS baseball squad, has been working as a volunteer football coach and could be an option.

“We are still deciding,” Wolf head coach Jon Atkins said. “Josh is on staff and his role might expand. The administration and I have been discussing options at this point.”

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   Cade Golden rambles for yardage during a Coupeville Middle School game. (John Fisken photo)

He’s gold, Jerry, gold.

Or Golden, as it were.

Incoming Coupeville High School freshman QB Cade Golden has spent a chunk of his summer honing his gridiron skills, traveling around the country to football camps.

The most recent trip was to the University of Alabama, where head coach Nick Saban, the brains behind five national title-winning teams, patrolled the field as drills went on around him.

Now, Golden, who is still a month away from his first fall practice with the Wolves, has been tabbed to join other top gunslingers at Northwest 9, a five-day camp for QB’s.

Run by the Rough Diamonds Athletic Foundation, the event is set for July 30-Aug. 3 in Kirkland.

The camp is being offered on an invitation basis to 35 prep quarterbacks who have been plucked from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Golden and his fellow competitors will face off in testing, positional drills, 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 events, with the top finishers being chosen as the inaugural “Northwest 9.”

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Jake Mitten, seen here in an earlier game, scored four touchdowns Wednesday in an overtime thriller. (John Fisken photo)

   Jake Mitten, seen here in an earlier game, scored four touchdowns Wednesday in an overtime thriller. (John Fisken photo)

It was a thriller that kept you guessing until the final play.

A rainy day turned halfway nice, if predictably windy, Wednesday afternoon, allowing Coupeville and Chimacum ample opportunity to wage a knock-down, drag-out middle school battle on the gridiron.

By the time it was done, with the visiting Cowboys pulling out a 35-34 thriller in overtime, there had been something for everyone.

Big pass plays, last second escapes, even a Wolf coach wiping out on the muddy sideline and crashing into the team bench.

The game ended when Chimacum’s line shoved Coupeville’s defense back into the end zone on an extra point conversion run, giving the Cowboys the slimmest of margins.

With the game knotted at 28-28, after Chimacum had pulled off a fourth-down miracle with under a minute to play in the fourth quarter to force the extra period, the two squads took turns trying to punch the ball in from the 10-yard line.

The Wolves had the ball first in OT and hammered the ball in on fourth and goal, with Jake Mitten plunging around the right side for his fourth score of the afternoon.

But, on the ensuing extra point attempt, the Wolves couldn’t get the snap down for kicker Sage Downes and Chimacum players swarmed through the line to smush holder Dakota Eck.

With the ball in their own hands, the Cowboys took one play to score a touchdown — on a run up the middle — and one play to end things, ramming home the game’s final point behind a cloud of dust.

The frantic overtime action capped a game with five lead changes, and a miracle at the end of regulation.

Coupeville had gone ahead 28-20 with three-and-a-half minutes to play thanks to a three-yard scoring run from Mitten and a successful PAT kick from Downes.

Middle school football rewards teams with two for a kick and one for a run or pass on extra point plays — the opposite of high school action — and with Chimacum down by eight and going into the wind, things looked good for the Wolves.

The Cowboys had two miracles (a big one and a very important small one) still in their pocket, however.

First, they slipped a tiny, but quick receiver behind the defense on fourth-and-everything from the 30-yard line, and his TD reception with 47 seconds to play pulled Chimacum to 28-26.

Then, despite kicking into the wind, a burly Cowboy drove the ball through the uprights — by the slimmest of margins — to knot things up.

Somehow, despite there being less than a minute to play in regulation, both teams got the ball back before the buzzer sounded.

Coupeville went four and out and gave Chimacum the ball with 15 seconds to play, then dodged a bullet when Cade Golden tipped away a potential game-winning pass.

With regulation run down, and a ferry awaiting the Cowboys, there was serious discussion at midfield on whether to call the game a tie.

To the delight of players on both sides, and the surprise of onlookers who have grown accustomed to middle school games not being allowed overtime action, the refs shut off the clock and let the teams decide the game on the field.

While Coupeville would have liked to have held on for the win, the Wolf coaches were thrilled to see two similarly-sized schools get a chance to go at it, with neither side backing down.

“They played with their hearts and for each other; loving it!!!,” said CMS head coach Bob Martin. “It was a good day!”

The Wolves stung Chimacum several times, starting with their opening drive.

After watching the Cowboys eat up nearly seven minutes of clock while marching to a touchdown after taking the kick-off, Coupeville responded with its own score in less than 75 seconds.

Eck broke free for a 31-yard sprint to daylight, then Golden hooked up with Mitten on a 25-yard pass play to put CMS on the doorstep.

From there, it was all Ben Smith, as he took a hand-off and scampered around the left side for a two-yard touchdown run.

Mitten dropped a perfect conversion pass into Golden’s waiting arms for the extra point and the Wolves were up 7-6 and off to the races.

Coupeville’s next two touchdowns came through the air, with Golden flinging the ball into the overcast sky and Mitten hauling it in, then churning away for extra yardage.

The first went 32 yards, the second 75 yards.

In between Golden picked off a Cowboy pass — the only turnover in a very cleanly played game.

Thanks to weather issues that erased a game from earlier in the season, the two teams will reunite in a week, this time at Chimacum.

The Nov. 2 clash will bring the middle school football campaign to an end.

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