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Ben Smith had an interception and a fumble recovery Friday night, though the reffing crew only upheld one. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Freshman Scott Hilborn (with ball), seen here in an earlier game, had two receptions Friday for 46 yards. (Stephanie Martin photo)

The refs were bad, often ridiculously so, that is true.

But they’re not the reason the Coupeville High School football team lost Friday night.

Give Friday Harbor some credit. They dictated play on both sides of the ball, abusing the Wolf defense and largely muffling its offense.

You don’t win 53-7, as the host Wolverines did, simply because the refs lost their rule book, their seeing-eye dogs, and their ability to form coherent thoughts.

Though that certainly doesn’t help.

However you cut it, Coupeville took a beating — often physically, as several key players were bruised and battered — and the Wolves will need to have short memories as they return home for a match-up next week with La Conner.

Now 1-2 during a season when all their games will be non-conference ones, CHS is not going to enjoy watching the game film from this jaunt to the far-flung San Juan Islands.

Friday Harbor rarely threw a pass, content to run, run some more, than keep on ramming the ball right through the heart of the Coupeville defense.

Four different Wolverine players hit pay-dirt with a rushing touchdown, with juniors Kyson Jackson (3) and Kaden Ritchie (2) combining to score the first five.

Toss in late scoring runs for Connor Haines and Mateo Blackmon, packaged around a defensive touchdown off a fumble recovery brought back 50+ yards, and Friday Harbor had little trouble scoring.

The hometown cheerleaders, who did push-ups for every point scored, got their own workout and may be as sore as Coupeville’s defenders are likely to be after the mauling.

There was a moment, very brief, when it appeared it might be a close game.

Down two scores, CHS found new life on offense and drove 62 yards in six plays for its lone score, cutting the margin to 14-7 with almost four minutes left in the first quarter.

The turnaround came thanks to a couple of precision passes from senior Wolf quarterback Dawson Houston, who hit three different receivers on the drive.

He opened with a slick pass to freshman Scott Hilborn, who made a sweet cutback on the ensuing run to shed several would-be tacklers en route to a 25-yard pick-up.

A catch over the middle by Sean Toomey-Stout picked up 19 more yards, before one of the few penalties called on Friday Harbor shoved Coupeville all the way down to the eight-yard line.

Houston pegged a ball to Gavin Knoblich, and the long ‘n lanky receiver reached behind himself while on the move to make a fairly sensational one-handed snag on the ball.

It was the third touchdown reception this season for the senior, and Coupeville was especially hurt later in the game when Knoblich went to the sideline after having his bell rung.

He never re-entered, and his absence put a huge crimp in the Wolf passing attack.

In the moment, after celebrating Knoblich’s catch, CHS added the extra point thank to a booming PAT kick off the foot of freshman Daylon Houston, and it looked like a back-and-forth affair might break out.

That was quickly squashed, however, as Friday Harbor scored the game’s final 39 points across the second and third quarters.

A short TD run by Ritchie pushed the deficit out to 20-7, and then the refs completely whiffed on a call which turned out to be a killer.

Unable to get its own offense moving downfield, Coupeville was forced to punt, and watched in horror as the kick was blocked.

That’s when things got weird.

As the ball came back down, a Friday Harbor player snatched it up out of mid-air, was hit and fumbled the ball, which was then recovered by Coupeville’s Ben Smith.

But, after a meeting of the “minds” by the reffing crew, Friday Harbor was handed the ball to the consternation of the Wolf coaches.

It wasn’t the most-livid the CHS staff would be – that came later, when Hilborn was decked on a blatant helmet-to-helmet shot while the entire reffing crew swallowed its whistles.

Until 15 seconds after the play was finished, when they handed out a penalty … to the Coupeville bench for protesting too much about the fact their freshman running back had just had his head ripped off on an illegal hit.

But while the refs certainly gave no favors to the Wolves, Friday Harbor does what Friday Harbor does – play hard every snap, hit ferociously on defense and pound away on offense.

Given the ball, they rammed it down the field, and there was little Coupeville could do on this night to stop the Wolverines.

When you collect less than 100 yards on offense as a team, while the other squad rips off 10 and 12-yard rambles on almost every run, you’re very, very likely to lose.

After Coupeville’s lone scoring drive, the Wolves only collected a handful of highlights.

Smith, bouncing back from having the fumble recovery taken away from him, pulled off his first high school interception, picking off a super-rare Friday Harbor pass right before halftime.

The Wolves also showed a nice bit of grit as a running clock blew out the fourth quarter.

For the one and only time in the game, Coupeville held Friday Harbor, forcing a turnover on downs, and they did it by stopping not a JV runner, but by stepping up and rejecting Ritchie as he tried to blast over the middle.

Wolf senior Andrew Martin, who gutted out a strong defensive effort in the trenches while battling through a variety of bumps, dinged knees and swollen hands, led the stand, body-slamming the Friday Harbor runner to the ground to end the drive.

Houston, who also delivered several long punts, completed five passes for 79 yards, accounting for virtually all of Coupeville’s offense, with Hilborn (2-46), Toomey-Stout (2-25), and Knoblich (1-8) his targets.

Martin was the top rusher, with 19 hard-earned yards against a Friday Harbor defense which offered few holes.

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Brian Casey, a warrior on the football field, and a quality guy off of it. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Don’t let the photo above fool you.

The first rule of football picture day is you can’t smile. Been that way since the days of wearing leather helmets.

But, every other time I’ve seen him, Brian Casey has been smiling.

And not just a little smile, but a big, world-encircling kind of one.

One example, Friday’s football game at Vashon Island.

Casey was on the sidelines, unable to play, as he battles through an injury, but the Wolf sophomore was an exuberant presence.

Running back and forth, never standing still, he was among the first to congratulate any of his teammates as they came off the field.

Screaming, thumping people on the back, high-fiving, grabbing running back Andrew Martin and bellowing, “My boy! My boy!!,” Casey showed, in a small moment, why he’s the kind of player every gridiron program wants to see.

On the field, he’s a coach’s son through and through, charging in to the scrum with a scream, ready to lay fools out.

But, it tells you a lot about what kind of person a player is by how he acts when he can’t play.

Some players sulk, or stand off to the side, zoned out from what’s going on.

Some don’t show up for the game at all.

Brian Casey is not those kind of players. He is there for his teammates every step of the way.

And it sucks he will lose his entire sophomore season, a time when he would have been a two-way starter for the Wolves.

Casey has a torn ACL and meniscus, an injury which he suffered during summer camp. Reality has intruded, and he will have to undergo surgery in early October.

It’s not fair, and you hate to see a quality kid have to go through this.

But go back to that word – quality.

Brian Casey, in everything I’ve seen and heard, is a quality player, a quality teammate, and a quality person.

He will be back, and hopefully get to rip up the joint as a junior and senior, playing with the toughness and love of the game handed down to him by dad Brett, a CHS assistant football coach, teacher, and owner of a truly legendary beard.

But before he pulls that uniform back on for his own playing days, Brian will be there for his teammates. Of that I have no doubt.

On the sideline. In the locker room. On the bus. In the weight room and at the practice field.

Words are one thing. Actions are something more.

The way Brian carries himself, the way he conducts his business, the way he chooses to lift up his teammates, instead of wallowing in self-pity, are all signs of a young man going places.

He has earned the respect of Wolf fans, and we wish him a speedy, painless recovery.

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CHS football manager Brenna Silveira is on her way to save the day. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Fab frosh Lucy Tenore and Coupeville volleyball are a shiny 1-0 on the season.

Now we’re rolling.

With the first full week of fall sports activity in the books, every Coupeville High School team has been in action.

The Wolf boys tennis squad was the first to face off with a league opponent, while CHS volleyball sits as the school’s only remaining undefeated team.

The week ahead is full of more action, most of it on the road.

Tennis and soccer are the busiest teams (with the net crew keeping an eye on the rain clouds), with three games apiece.

The booters have back-to-back league games on the road Tuesday at King’s and Thursday at Sultan, then host non-conference foe Kingston Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile tennis travels to University Prep Monday and The Bush School Wednesday, then stays home Friday to face Overlake.

All three matches are Emerald City League clashes.

Wolf volleyball has a pair of non-league matches, heading to Anacortes Tuesday before hosting Chimacum Saturday, while CHS football travels Friday to play non-league rival Friday Harbor.

As we prepare for the week ahead, a look at where we are so far:

 

North Sound Conference volleyball:

School League Overall
Coupeville 0-0 1-0
CPC-Bothell 0-0 4-0
Granite Falls 0-0 1-1
King’s 0-0 2-0
South Whidbey 0-0 0-1
Sultan 0-0 0-1

 

North Sound Conference football:

School League Overall
Coupeville 0-0 1-1
CPC-Bothell 0-0 1-1
Granite Falls 0-0 0-2
King’s 0-0 0-2
South Whidbey 0-0 2-0
Sultan 0-0 1-1

 

North Sound Conference girls soccer:

School League Overall
King’s 1-0 2-1
Coupeville 0-0 0-2
Granite Falls 0-0 1-2
South Whidbey 0-0 2-0
Sultan 0-0 0-2
CPC-Bothell 0-1 2-1


Emerald City League boys tennis:

School League Overall
Eastside Prep 2-0 2-0
University Prep 2-0 2-0
Overlake 2-1 2-1
South Whidbey 2-1 2-1
Seattle Academy 1-1 1-1
Bear Creek 0-2 0-2
Bush 0-2 0-2
Coupeville 0-2 0-2

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Sean Toomey-Stout had three interceptions Friday, taking one back 65 yards for a touchdown, as Coupeville throttled Vashon 27-8. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville’s line, seen here in an earlier game, played strongly in the win.

For seven long minutes, things looked sort of bleak.

And then, in the matter of a few seconds, the entire script got flipped and what could have been a Friday the 13th horror show became a very-satisfying romp.

Dominant on defense and opportunistic on offense, the Coupeville High School football squad bounced back from an early deficit Friday to whack host Vashon Island 27-8.

The win, fueled by four interceptions and several inspired scoring plays, evens the Wolves record at 1-1 on the season.

It also gives Coupeville’s seniors a sweep of Vashon, as the Class of 2020 went 4-0 against the Pirates, outscoring their fellow islanders 145-47 over that stretch.

In the early going Friday, though, the only team to crack the scoring barrier was Vashon.

And not because it did anything special, but because the Wolves couldn’t get into gear.

While the Coupeville defense forced a three-and-out on the opening possession, with Andrew Martin body-slamming a Pirate runner halfway through the turf on one play, the Wolf offense promptly stalled out.

The first three plays CHS ran resulted in a loss of four yards, an incomplete pass, and a loss of eight yards.

Then, things went from sorta bad to stinky cheese awful, as a snap on fourth down sailed past Wolf quarterback Dawson Houston, resulting in a safety and a quick ‘n easy two points for Vashon.

That triggered the fog horn from Hell that the Pirates fire off to signal when they score, setting up the disturbing possibility the night would be full of the nerve-shredding wail.

But when the football gods give, they often quickly take.

And thus the night turned in a few plays, shutting down the fog horn almost for good, while sending a ripple of electricity through the Wolf faithful who had made the two-boat trek to get from Whidbey to the far outposts of the world.

On Vashon’s ensuing possession, Coupeville defenders Gavin Knoblich and Ben Smith both came up with nice stops for losses, forcing the Pirates to go to the punt formation.

At which point the Vashon long snapper aired the ball out.

Like really, really, really aired it out, skipping it 30 yards past his punter, who took off running, barely getting to the madly-skipping ball before a wave of Wolves rolled right over the top of his prone body.

Handed a gift, Coupeville cashed it in, and quickly.

Freshman Scott Hilborn, making his high school football debut, accepted a hand-off from Houston, cut back, spun on a dime, then bolted through a pack of hapless Pirates, shredding them for a 30-yard bolt to the end zone.

So, that’s one high school carry, and one high school touchdown. Perhaps his nickname shall be “Instant Offense.”

While the Wolves missed on a two-point conversion pass, they had the lead, and it would be one they would never relinquish.

Chalk a big assist up to the defense, which again came up big.

Martin and Gavin St Onge blew up running plays, then Hilborn, trying to do everything all in one night, snuffed out Vashon’s next drive by picking the Pirate QB on a fourth-down heave inside the 20-yard line.

Up high in the stands, proud dad Steve Hilborn, a master of remaining low-key in the heat of competition, nodded.

Once.

Ever so slightly.

And it was like another man ripping off all his clothes and running around the track screaming at the top of his lungs.

With his defense clicking, Houston took control of the Wolf offense and everything started working.

Mixing runs from Martin and Smith, plus a few nifty scrambles by the QB himself, with precision passes that started on Houston’s fingers and ended in Knoblich’s waiting hands, Coupeville slammed the pedal through the metal.

Houston and Knoblich combined for back-to-back touchdowns through the air, the first from 11 yards out, the second from four yards away, wrapped around an interception from Sean Toomey-Stout, and the rout was on.

A two-point conversion run from Houston, in which his line reared up and smacked Vashon’s defense backwards as a unit, made it 14-2.

After Knoblich’s second scoring catch, on which he out-jumped his defender to get to the ball, the Wolves knocked down their first PAT of the season.

It came on a booming kick by freshman Daylon Houston, off a hold by older brother Dawson, a senior, and ended with the two siblings pounding on each other in glee as they returned to the sideline.

“See, they can get along!” said mom Alia with a huge smile.

While the first half was full of offensive highlights, the second was more of a slug-fest, with both defenses clamping down and just a single touchdown coming for either side.

Vashon finally gave its lonely fog horn a chance to step back into the spotlight when Pirate QB William Weber dropped a really pretty 29-yard scoring bomb into the hands of Jack Cunningham.

But, before the last dying gasp of the horn had faded, Coupeville drove a final stake through the heart of the Pirates, blocking the PAT.

Half the line bent on the play, with St Onge coming in from the outside to land on the ball as it tried, unsuccessfully, to leave the ground.

Coupeville had a couple of strong offensive plays in the second half, with Martin running over would-be tacklers, and Smith slashing through open holes for yardage.

Its best play was a 31-yard throw-and-catch in which Dawson Houston nailed Gavin Straub as he ran a route down the far sideline, followed by “G3” rambling over and around would-be tacklers until enough Vashon players finally arrived on scene to gang-tackle him.

But, while it moved the chains after halftime, the Wolf offense couldn’t crack the goal line in the second half.

Not a problem, however.

Toomey-Stout, who suffered a season-ending injury at Vashon as a sophomore, capped his final game against the Pirates by picking off two more passes in the fourth quarter, giving him three for the game.

Pick #3 came when he sprinted from deep in the backfield, launched himself airborne and hauled in a dying duck of a throw as it plummeted to Earth in front of him.

He looked like a center-fielder on a baseball diamond, and a darn good one at that, robbing a batter of a hit.

But while pick #1 was technically perfect, and pick #3 was a dazzler, pick #2 was “The Torpedo” blowing up the whole stadium and laughing as it came down around him.

Vashon was driving and Weber thought he had an open man and … BAM!!!

Toomey-Stout interrupted the flight of the ball, speared it, then went on one of the wilder pick-six runs in recent memory.

Zigging back and forth, he brought the ball back 65 yards, while running about 130, slipping tackles not once, not twice, but 237 times as he caused the Coupeville coaches to collectively lose their freakin’ minds on the sideline.

There were multiple times when he should have been down, multiple times when he seemingly had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and yet kept on churning, kept on pulling off miracle escapes.

It was a modern-day renaissance man painting a masterpiece and using the gridiron as his canvas.

If there was any justice, the Vashon crew would have fired off the fog horn in salute, even though Toomey-Stout doesn’t wear a Pirate uniform.

They didn’t, but, in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

“The Torpedo” and crew will happily accept the victory, with or without a fog horn salute, and move on the next challenge.

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The band revs up on opening night for Coupeville High School football. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The sizzle of burgers on the grill fills the air.

Wolf volleyball ace Lucy Sandahl marinates in the moment.

The best chain gang in the biz gets a photo op. But, if they’re all on the field, who’s guarding their half-time snacks?!?!

Hannah Davidson acknowledges the roar of the crowd.

Coupeville cheerleaders come out strong.

Need a sweet deal on CHS merchandise? Booster Club bigwigs Abbie Martin (left) and Leann Leavitt are here for you.

Lisa Toomey, bringing good cheer to all.

Friday night football is always about more than just football.

As the biggest “event” sport in the high school game, gridiron action brings out a wide host of people.

From band members to cheerleaders to burger grillers, local photo whiz kid John Fisken always takes some time away from the game to capture the swirl of activity going on off-field.

The pics above capture football without football in all its wide-ranging glory.

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