Posts Tagged ‘comeback win’

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 another win Thursday, Central Whidbey is still alive at the district tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Call them the eliminators.

Bouncing back nicely after opening the District 11 tourney with a loss, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball squad is now handing out KO’s on a regular basis.

Thursday night it required a late rally by the Wolves, but they escaped with a 6-4 victory over Anacortes, eliminating the boys in purple.

Coming on the heels of a win Wednesday which sent Sedro-Woolley home, Central Whidbey has knocked out two of the three teams no longer playing.

Now, to keep the streak alive, the Wolves will need to find an answer for South Whidbey, the team which beat them 6-0 back in that Monday opener.

The rematch goes down 6 PM Friday at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park, and the stakes are high.

With both Whidbey teams sitting at 2-1 in the double-elimination royal rumble, the loser Friday is done, joining Sedro, Anacortes, and North Whidbey on the sideline.

Win the all-Island showdown, however, and you get to advance to play another day, facing Burlington (3-0 in the tourney) Saturday, and maybe Sunday.

While guaranteed a top-three finish, the plucky Wolves, now 12-7 on the season, still have their eyes set on the big prize — the district title and a trip to the state tournament.

To get there, they’ll need to show the same kind of grit they did against Anacortes.

Down 4-3, four outs away from seeing its season end, Central Whidbey rallied for three two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth against a tiring rival hurler.

While the Wolves mixed and matched, using five different pitchers in a bid to keep pitch counts low and save as many arms as possible, Anacortes went with the same ace all the way to his limit of 85 pitches.

And he almost made it, until Central Whidbey pulled off a bit of magic.

With Jack Porter on the base-paths and two outs in the fifth, the Wolves got daring, then lucky, as the lanky outfielder stole second, then scampered to third on a wild pitch.

A walk to Aiden O’Neill, whose pitching performance saved Central earlier in the game, put two runners aboard, and then it was time for the magic man to do what he does so well.

We’re speaking of Chase Anderson, a young man who has already mastered almost every position on the field, while charging through life with a near-constant grin on his face.

That grin blossomed into a mammoth smile after he poked a ball back through the infield, rolling it just wide of the pitcher, yet also too far away for the hard-charging second-baseman to be able to make a play.

Anderson hit the bag at first, Porter slashed across home plate with the tying run, and a group of Central Whidbey softball players, back from their own trip to the state tournament, went bonkers down the third-base line.

Or at least partially bonkers, as the big explosion came a moment later, as Johnny Porter followed Anderson to the plate and promptly lofted a game-deciding two-run single to right field.

In a small slice of time, a game on the line, a contest where the Wolves destiny hung in the balance, became a completely new ballgame.

Over in the stands, legendary former CHS athletes Ema Smith and Lindsey Roberts nodded slightly, gave small fist pumps and looked at each other, the unspoken thought being shared a simple one.

“Just the way we would have done it.”

From that moment, Anacortes was done, baby, done. All that was left was merely a formality.

On the hill headed into the top of the sixth, now with a two-run lead, was Anderson, the team’s fire-baller who had shut down the rivals in the fifth.

With faint strains of Enter Sandman possibly wafting on the wind, the Wolf hurler whiffed the first batter, then got a great defensive play from two teammates for out number two.

Marcelo Gebhard went to his knees to knock down a chopper, plucked the ball out of the dirt, and pegged a throw to first-baseman Landon Roberts, who went all Stretch Armstrong to snare the orb and beat the runner by half a step.

“I think he just ripped every single muscle in his body,” murmured mom Sherry Roberts.

“Exactly the way I taught him,” interjected grandpa Rick Bonacci from behind his daughter.

Perhaps as a reward, perhaps as a way to keep pitch counts down, perhaps just as a way to make sure all of Landon’s body parts were still in working order, CWLL coach Jon Roberts handed the ball to his son to get the 18th and final out.

Done deal, as Landon got the first hitter he faced to slap a soft liner right back into his mitt. Squeeze the ball, do a little hop, and on to Friday.

Before everyone got to the Wolf-friendly finale, the game had been a smartly-played back-and-forth affair.

Jordan Bradford got the nod as Central Whidbey’s starting pitcher, and he was on fire in the top of the first.

Charging back from a 3-0 count, he whiffed the lead-off hitter, then snagged back-to-back come-backers to the mound.

Feeling the electricity in the air, the Wolves plated two runs in the first, thanks to a booming single from Jack Porter, a perfectly-placed bunt single from O’Neill, and a long sac fly off of Anderson’s bat.

And then the offense hit a slow-down for a bit, as the next eight Wolf hitters went down without anyone getting on base.

That dry period, from midway through the first until the end of the third, gave Anacortes a chance to regain the lead, and it did, pushing across two runs in both the second and third innings.

Central Whidbey kept things from getting too out of hand thanks to a great backpedaling catch by Roberts, who snagged a runaway ball as it drifted over first, then did his version of a somersault while still somehow holding on to the ball.

Also coming up huge was O’Neill, who went to the pitcher’s mound and inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the third and lived to tell about it.

He induced a 6-2-5 double play from the first batter he faced, with Anderson pegging the ball to Johnny Porter at the plate for one out, before the Wolf catcher spun and fired a shot to Camden Glover at third to nail another runner.

Overall, O’Neill racked up two scoreless innings at an extremely crucial time, setting up Anderson and Roberts to deliver the one-two knockout punch at the end.

With Anacortes held at bay, the Wolves cut the lead from 4-2 back to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.

Anderson led off with a single which dropped in between the first-baseman and right-fielder, then eventually came around to score on a passed ball.

That set up the sweet finale, and left Jon Roberts with a relieved smile on his face.

“Well, after I looked over the books, I am actually very pleased with many things,” he said. “We found a way to wake up the bats and adjust to a mid-speed pitcher with little control.”

Central Whidbey racked up seven hits and three walks on the night, with Anderson and Jack Porter leading the way with two singles apiece.

O’Neill, Roberts, and Johnny Porter added base-knocks, with Glover, O’Neill, and Bradford earning free passes.

There would have been an eighth hit, but John Rachal was flat-out robbed.

Riding a hot streak at the plate, he belted a shot to deep left his first time at bat, only to see the Anacortes fielder run it down and make a superb catch.

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Hunter Smith knocked down a team-high 15 Friday night in an overtime loss. (John Fisken photo)

   Hunter Smith knocked down a season-high 34 Tuesday to lift Coupeville past Klahowya in a must-win game. (John Fisken photo)

Too bad Hunter Smith has already won the WIAA Athlete of the Week award this winter.

The Coupeville High School junior put on an award-worthy performance Tuesday night, torching the nets for a game-high 34 to spark the Wolves to a 60-58 win at Klahowya in a game with huge playoff implications.

The win, which came after Coupeville rallied from a seven-point deficit headed into the fourth, lifts CHS to 2-5 in Olympic League play, 2-13 overall.

It also moves them a half game up on Klahowya (1-5, 3-13) for the league’s third and final playoff spot. Having taken two of three against the Eagles this season, the Wolves own the tiebreaker, as well.

Coupeville, which has two league games left — Friday at Chimacum (3-3, 3-10) and Feb. 4 at Port Townsend (7-0, 12-3) — will need to win both, and hope for some help, to catch the Cowboys for second place.

But thanks to Smith, and teammate Gabe Wynn, who pumped in 17 in support, the Wolves now have a serious edge on Klahowya for third place.

Hold on and they will host a loser-out playoff game against the #4 seed from the Nisqually League, which is currently Bellevue Christian.

Both teams came out and put on a show Tuesday, exchanging leads back and forth.

Riding a 13-point outburst from Smith, who had three treys in the early going, Coupeville led 20-15 at the first break.

The Eagles responded, knotting things up at 33 at the half (despite 11 more in the second from Smith), then used a 16-9 third-quarter surge to stake themselves to a 49-42 lead with eight minutes on the clock.

Coupeville hacked away at the lead, sharing the ball between Smith, Wynn, Brian Shank and Ethan Spark, who combined to hit five baskets and, maybe more importantly, eight free throws.

A streaky team at the line, the Wolves were money in the fourth, led by Wynn, who was a sizzlin’ 7 of 8 for the game at the charity stripe.

Klahowya may have been shafted of a chance to tie or win at the end, however, as there was a jump ball called with one second to play.

The clock ran out, and, instead of re-setting the clock at 0:01 and giving the ball to the Eagles, the refs reportedly ankled for the door, leaving local fans frustrated.

The Wolves went with a short bench, getting all of their scoring from Smith (34), Wynn (17), Shank (6) and Spark (3).

Joey Lippo, Steven Cope and Cameron Toomey-Stout delivered quality minutes, with Toomey-Stout coming up with a key fourth quarter steal that turned into a bucket at crunch time.

JV gets battered:

The score wasn’t all that important, as the Wolves had to deal with losing two key players to injury.

Down by one at the half, Coupeville left Sean Toomey-Stout on the sidelines coming out of the locker room (shoulder injury), then lost Jered Brown to a broken collarbone in the third.

After that, “the wheels sort of fell off,” according to JV coach Dustin Van Velkinburgh, and the Wolves eventually lost by 23.

The defeat sends the young guns to 7-8 overall, 2-5 in league play.

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Sarah Wright (John Fisken photo)

   Sarah Wright, seen here during practice, scored 11 points Saturday to spark the Coupeville JV girls to a come-from-behind win. (John Fisken photo)

Never give up. Never back down.

Down by double digits early Saturday, trailing into the fourth quarter, the Coupeville High School JV girls’ basketball squad stormed back to upend visiting South Whidbey.

With sophomore Sarah Wright controlling the game in the final quarter, the Wolves pulled out a stunning 24-20 victory, lifting their record to 2-1 on the season.

“The girls fought hard the whole game,” said CHS coach Amy King. “They changed defenses as needed and even threw on a press they had only practiced once.

“They never gave up. They supported each other the entire game,” she added. “They played as a very united team. They won. It was a good night.”

Having chipped away at the lead quarter after quarter, the Wolves were still trailing 18-17 entering the fourth.

With Wright back on the floor — the JV had the swing player for two quarters — Coupeville went to her and she responded, dropping in five of her team-high 11 points to spur the win.

Three came via free throws, as she iced the Falcons from the charity stripe.

Sarah really stepped up in the fourth quarter,” King said. “She made good use of her time. She was vocal on defense and did a nice job of grabbing rebounds and dropping points.”

South Whidbey came out hot from behind the arc to start the game, drilling three treys as it built a 12-2 lead at the first break.

Nicole Lester finally got Coupeville on the board when she banked in a shot, and the Wolves started to turn things around when they shifted their defense from a zone to man-to-man.

Holding the Falcons to just eight points over the final 24 minutes, while debuting a new defense, Coupeville blossomed.

“The girls have not practiced this type of defense, but they took instruction and ran with it,” King said. “They really stopped the outside shooting and forced turnovers.

“I can’t gush about just one player, because it was a full team win.”

King praised Maddy Hilkey’s “tough defense,” Lester’s ability to “rip rebounds and use her height as a mismatch” and Ashlie Shank’s “length and speed,” among a long checklist of top performers.

Hannah Davidson “was vital on defense,” hauling down seven rebounds and working with Ema Smith, Lester and Wright to control the post.

The younger guards all stepped up as well, with Scout Smith, Emma Mathusek, Avalon Renninger and Maya Toomey-Stout working as a well-oiled unit.

Mathusek had a nifty steal, followed by her avoiding a double-team with an alert pass, while Toomey-Stout forced one turnover which caused her foe to get so ticked off she almost nailed the Wolf frosh in the face with the ball.

“I quickly called a time out for us to regroup and everyone was so excited with the way we had shut them down,” King said. “Maya had a smile ear to ear.”

Ema Smith knocked in five points to back Wright’s 11, while Lester (4), Shank (2) and Scout Smith (2) also scored.

The prodigal daughter returns:

South Whidbey’s JV roster includes Oliana Stange, who played for Coupeville at the middle school level before moving South with dad Ken, the CHS tennis coach.

As a twice-published author here on Coupeville Sports, she always deserves a shout-out when she comes “home.”

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