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Posts Tagged ‘Cascade Conference’

   After this season, South Whidbey’s athletes will no longer call the 1A/2A Cascade Conference home. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

And it’s gone.

Coupeville’s old stomping grounds, the 1A/2A Cascade Conference, is no more.

The league, fractured by defections and forfeits, will cease to be at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

In its place, the league’s (soon to be) five 1A schools are striking out on their own and forming the North Sound Conference, which begins play in fall 2018.

South Whidbey, King’s, Cedar Park Christian, Sultan and Granite Falls, which is dropping from 2A back to 1A next year, will form the new league.

Cedarcrest and Archbishop Thomas Murphy, which were the only remaining 2A schools in the Cascade Conference after Lakewood bailed, are now free agents seeking new homes.

Four years ago, the Cascade Conference was an eight-team league.

After Coupeville left to join the newly-formed 1A Olympic League, Cedar Park Christian took its slot.

Things began to fracture shortly after, though, with every league team except King’s refusing to face ATM on the football field, which generated national media attention.

When a “super” league, which would have combined the Cascade Conference, Wesco South and the Northwest Conference for football only, fell through, Lakewood took all of its programs and bounced to the 1A/2A/3A NWC.

This past season, league schools returned to playing ATM in football, with the exception of South Whidbey.

Trying to rebuild their gridiron program, the Falcons asked for permission to play a non-conference schedule against smaller schools.

After losing to fellow 1A schools Coupeville and Chimacum to open the 2017 football season, South Whidbey won seven straight games against B schools and a Canadian program new to football.

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   South Whidbey’s Callahan Yale (far left) poses as a Wolf, momentarily giving Coupeville four cross country runners. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

After training and traveling with their compatriots from South Whidbey all season, Coupeville High School’s trio of cross country runners will split off and go their own way for the postseason.

That new route starts in Sequim Oct. 19, when the Wolves compete at the Olympic League Championships.

After that, if they qualify, districts and state beckon for Danny Conlisk, Henry Wynn and Sam Wynn.

But, before the split, Coupeville’s trio ran one more race alongside the Falcons Wednesday, competing at a Cascade Conference meet in Shoreline.

2A Cedarcrest, led by meet winner Grant Van Valkenburg, coasted in for the team victory, easily outdistancing South Whidbey and King’s.

Since Coupeville doesn’t have a full seven-man team, the Wolves had no chance to snag team honors, but Conlisk did finish 14th out of 57 runners, covering the 4,000 meter course in 13 minutes, 54.16 seconds.

Henry Wynn claimed 30th (15:16.86) while Sam Wynn hit the tape in 42nd (16:30.26).

With the postseason starting, South Whidbey hits the trail with other schools from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference, while the Wolves reunite with 1A Olympic League mates Port Townsend, Chimacum and Klahowya.

The league’s seven 2A schools, and wild card 1B Clallam Bay, will also compete at the OLC, which is set for The Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course.

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   Danny Conlisk finished 9th out of 105 runners Thursday at a cross country meet at South Whidbey High School. (Photo courtesy Dawnelle Conlisk)

Danny Conlisk wins Whidbey honors.

Competing at an eight-team cross country meet at South Whidbey High School Thursday, the Coupeville junior finished 9th out of 105 runners.

Making his top 10 finish even better was he edged out every one of his Falcon training partners, out-leaning South Whidbey’s Michael Cepowski at the line.

Conlisk finished the 5,000 meter course in 18 minutes, 18.94 seconds, while Cepowski ran his home course in 18:19.79.

Cedarcrest’s Grant Van Valkenburg won the race in 16:57.03, spurring the Red Wolves to a team win.

The seven schools from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference were in attendance, while Coupeville’s mini three-man crew also took part.

CHS doesn’t have an active harrier program of its own, so Conlisk and brothers Henry and Sam Wynn train and travel with South Whidbey, but compete in the red and black uniforms of their own school.

Henry Wynn, a senior, finished 38th Thursday, clocking in at 20:13.59, while Sam, a freshman, claimed 74th in 22:16.56.

The Wolf trio are back at it Saturday, when they travel to Lakewood for the Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational.

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   Coupeville vs. South Whidbey. Choose the right path, Falcons, and this could be a regular occurrence. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Boom goes the dynamite, indeed.

The 1A/2A Cascade Conference, Coupeville’s old home, is no longer dying, it’s 99.2% dead.

First, everyone refused to play ATM in football.

Then Lakewood pulled up stakes in the middle of the night and fled to the Northwest Conference.

Finally, South Whidbey asked for, and was given approval, to play football as an independent for an undetermined time in an attempt to rebuild its fractured program.

All of that mere cracks in the crust, leading up to the earthquake which erupted Thursday, when news surfaced that King’s and Cedar Park Christian applied to transfer to the Emerald City League.

What was an eight-team league, with four 1A schools and four 2A ones, is one small AD vote from being a five-team league, with just two 1A schools in South Whidbey and Sultan.

One of whom doesn’t play football against league foes.

If King’s and CPC bolt, the Cascade Conference likely splinters for good, something the league’s president, Jason Frederick, acknowledged in an interview with The South Whidbey Record.

From the outside, I see this as a huge positive, not a negative.

The Cascade Conference was always an unwieldy Frankenstein mish-mash.

You had small, rural 1A schools (Coupeville, South Whidbey, Sultan) trying to compete with ginormous 2A schools like Cedarcrest and private schools (ATM, King’s and, recently, CPC) who are allowed to operate under a different set of rules.

Private, religious-orientated King’s and CPC joining the high-end Emerald City League, which currently houses nine Seattle schools which are all, wait for it, private and religious-orientated, is tailor-made.

And the likely collapse of the Cascade Conference gives South Whidbey AD Paul Lagerstedt a perfect opportunity to do what former Coupeville AD Lori Stolee did four years ago — rewrite their school’s destiny.

I’ve said it before and I will say it a million more times (I’m obnoxious like that). The Falcons need to fly the coop and come home.

Mr. Lagerstedt,

Join Coupeville in the Olympic League starting next year and be the AD who made South Whidbey relevant again.

If the Cascade Conference doesn’t die today, it will die tomorrow. You know that deep down in your soul.

There’s a slim chance you could try to join the jump to the ECL, but that makes such little sense I’m not going to even entertain the notion.

I’ll just be back here rolling my eyes until they disappear into the back of my skull.

What you want is a stable league, one which offers SWHS a fighting chance in every sport. An opportunity to be the big dog in some and scrap in the rest. To play other similarly-sized PUBLIC schools.

The Olympic League is what you want. The Olympic League is what you need.

Heck, bring Sultan along if you like. Pounding on the Turks is always a good time.

Do it for a better playing field. Or just do it for the money.

You reinstate your greatest rivalry — Coupeville vs. South Whidbey, Cow Town vs. Hippie Land, Wolves vs. Falcons — in a meaningful fashion, with two 1A schools which sit just 25 miles apart fighting for league supremacy, you make the cash registers ring.

Rivalry games bring in the biggest bucks, and I absolutely guarantee you more cash hits ticket-taker hand for Wolves vs. Falcons than any random game you play against Granite Falls or some obscure Canadian team.

If we’re back in the same league, that’s 10 gates for the sports which charge (the annual football clash and likely three contests apiece in girls basketball, volleyball and boys basketball.)

What do you want? Four paying customers traveling here from the wilds of Granite Falls or a steady stream of cars surging up (or down) the Island?

Heck, you’ll get more fans from Port Townsend and Chimacum (whose fans travel well, and are closer) than you will from schools in Seattle and Everett.

A renewed rivalry, with more at stake. Increased money. And topping it all off? A chance to compete for league titles.

Face it, you have not been putting up championship banners in the Cascade Conference, any more than Coupeville did when we were in the same boat.

Join the Olympic League and you’ll be the second-biggest school (after Klahowya) in terms of student body size. That’s a huge boon.

And, by removing ATM and King’s, you instantly put your good programs back in the title picture and you give your weaker sports a fighting chance to rebuild.

Winning titles is huge.

Having a realistic shot, where every day every one of your programs feels genuinely competitive, is even bigger.

Now, you are guaranteed nothing.

Coupeville and Klahowya are not going to surrender without a fight (good luck trying to dethrone the state title-winning Eagle soccer dynasty), nor will Chimacum softball or Port Townsend track and field, for that matter.

But you instantly go from a constant battle for third-place to a constant battle for first-place, which builds morale, which builds numbers, which circles back around and builds pride.

You think you’re hot stuff?

Good, come prove it against schools similar in size and mentality, and stop bashing your brains out while the private schools play (legally) by their own rules.

And yes, I hear some trepidation about having to catch the Coupeville to Port Townsend ferry if you join the Olympic League.

Small potatoes.

When Coupeville catches the Clinton ferry and travels to Silverdale to play Klahowya (comparable to South Whidbey hopping over to PT or Chimacum), game times are adjusted and varsity often plays before JV.

Small ways to work around the fact we all LIVE ON AN ISLAND in the first place.

You need us. We need you.

It makes sense in every way possible.

So be brave. Be forward-thinking. Be the AD who makes South Whidbey High School sports relevant again.

We’re waiting for you (with a can of whup-ass at the ready),

Your Coupeville friends

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Highly-respected coach Mark Hodson is returning to lead South Whidbey's gridiron program after a three-year absence. (Photo poached from Hodson's Facebook)

   Highly-respected coach Mark Hodson is returning to lead South Whidbey’s gridiron program after a three-year absence.

South Whidbey football is returning to its roots as it rebuilds.

Former head coach Mark Hodson, who helped lead the Falcons for more than a decade, will be back at the helm next season.

He replaces Michael Coe, who resigned after posting a 1-18 mark in two years at SWHS.

Hodson will be the third head coach in four seasons, as former college coach Chris Tormey, who preceded Coe, only hung around for one 2-8 season before heading to the Canadian Football League.

South Whidbey, which hosts Coupeville in its season opener Sept. 1, has been a program in turmoil recently.

The Falcons went as low as 14 active varsity players at times last season, which forced it to be the first in a line of teams that forfeited to eventual 2A state champ Archbishop Thomas Murphy.

SWHS has now taken an indefinite leave of absence from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference and will play an independent schedule in 2017.

Hodson, who was the league’s coach of the year in 2007, helped lead the Falcon program for 14 seasons before resigning in 2014.

Some of that time involved working with Andy Davis as a co-coach.

The quick turnover in the last three years has been unusual for South Whidbey.

Prior to Hodson taking the Falcon job in 2001, SWHS had gotten a 19-year run from Mick Heggenes and a 30-year stint from coaching legend Jim Leirer.

Hodson played high school football at King’s, then went on to be a member of the 1987 Pacific Lutheran University squad which won a national championship.

He coached at several colleges before settling in as a teacher and coach in Langley.

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