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Andrew Martin ran for 109 yards and a touchdown Friday night, while also forcing two fumble recoveries, as CHS football won its third-straight game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A different far-flung outpost every week.

As it winds its way through a season of redemption and growth, the Coupeville High School football team is visiting a lot of places off the normal schedule.

The recurring theme? The Wolves are also showing a lot of first-time viewers that they are a team to fear and respect.

Surviving its fourth trip away from Whidbey in the first six weeks of the campaign, Coupeville visited the black turf of Tenino High School Friday night, returning with a gritty 32-24 victory over Northwest Christian/Life Christian Academy.

The win, the third-straight for the streaking Wolves, lifts them to 4-2.

That gives them the most wins since the 2014 CHS squad went 5-5, and puts them on the cusp of something even bigger.

With three games left on the schedule — home games the next two weeks against South Whidbey and Anacortes, then a trip to Bellevue to play Interlake — the Wolves are one slim win away from posting Coupeville football’s first winning season since 2005.

To get where they currently are, the rebuilding Wolves have endured long bus and ferry trips, while building an identity as a team that can hurt foes on both sides of the ball.

Friday’s game, played out on a cool evening in the shadow of a wall of trees, with a lonely train whistle occasionally blasting off to the side (for a nice Twin Peaks feeling) was a game of big plays, some which crippled, others which ultimately thrilled.

The night’s hosts, two private schools united for gridiron action and awkwardly referred to as the Wolverines/Eagles, came complete with a rockin’ band and a unique Homecoming halftime show which featured all the winners being ID’d by their favorite bible verses.

To keep it simple, we’ll refer to them after this as just Northwest Christian, which is how they were listed on the schedule.

A reborn football program headed up by a Hall of Fame coach, NWC entered the night looking for its first win of the season, and almost got there.

Busting out unexpected big plays, with three first-half touchdowns all going for 73+ yards apiece, the Wolverines/Eagles headed to the halftime locker room up 18-14.

Coupeville had struck first, marching 52 yards in 11 plays, with Andrew Martin carrying the ball into the heart of the defense time and again, daring his rivals to bring him down as he administered bruises left and right.

With the defense softened up, limping and saying “owie,” the Wolves put the ball in the end zone on a 27-yard pass play which started with a fourth-down gamble.

Coupeville QB Dawson Houston, scrambling away from the defense, fired a ball to the far right side, where Sean Toomey-Stout hauled in the incoming pigskin.

There was a man in front of him, but, ball now in hand, “The Torpedo” stopped on a dime, juked the defender out of his shoes, then casually strolled past him and into the end zone for an electrifying six points.

And it stayed just six points, as a trend was started when Northwest Christian blocked the PAT.

Nine touchdowns were scored between the teams on this night, yet only once did either team successfully pull off a conversion or extra point.

Coupeville entered play in Tenino coming off of back-to-back shutouts, but any chances of making it 3-for-3 quickly went out the window when Northwest Christian knotted the game up at 6-6 mere moments later.

Caleb Garrison broke free from a pack of tacklers and bolted 73 yards down the left sideline — only the third-longest scoring play of the night — and we had ourselves a game.

Things got progressively wilder once the teams entered the second quarter.

Northwest Christian forced a fumble off a bone-crunching sack, only to promptly have one of their own receivers drop a sure-thing TD pass two plays later.

That put the ball back in the hands of Houston, and he hooked up with Toomey-Stout for a second scoring strike which was a near mirror image of their first successful duet.

This catch-and-run covered 21 yards, went to the right side instead of the left, but once again featured a NWC defender blown out of his shoes after being pump-faked into the nearby woods.

Toss in a two-point conversion run from Martin (cherish it, cause this is that lone successful conversion we mentioned earlier), and we were good and …

What, we’re not good?

No, we’re not.

The ensuing kickoff went one way, then came back in a hurry, carried by Daishaun Nichols, who bolted 82 yards straight up the middle, leaving a trail of would-be tacklers in his wake as he sent a jolt of energy through the otherwise fairly placid private school fans.

Liking the feeling of being successful, Northwest Christian took another hit of electricity soon after, picking off a Houston pass at the two-yard line, then sending Nichols off on another long jaunt.

This one, coming on a pitch to the right, followed by a nasty cutback, went just 81 yards, leaving Nichols screaming for the oxygen and Northwest Christian holding that halftime lead we discussed before.

But, this is a resilient Wolf team, and one which got an extra-long time to receive … we’ll call it constructive criticism … during their time in the locker room as the Homecoming biblical verse-off played out.

Revved up and rarin’ to go, Coupeville’s gridiron giants came out a different team in the second half, 24 minutes of time that it dominated in every facet of play.

It began with Martin forcing a fumble, slamming into a runner and causing his spine to crumble as the ball popped free and into the waiting hands of one Mr. Toomey-Stout.

It was the first of two times the duo would pull off the same play in the second half, with “The Torpedo” adding an interception, and Gabe Shaw, Isaiah Bittner, and Kai Wong terrorizing every NWC player in their vicinity.

With a fired-up defense once again bringing a smile to assistant coach Bennett Richter’s face, the Wolf offense jacked things up as well.

Coupeville reclaimed the lead on Houston’s third touchdown pass of the night, a 14-yard zipper that hit Gavin Knoblich right on the hands as the lanky receiver crossed left to right.

Up 20-18, the Wolves clamped down, with Toomey-Stout snaring his pick in the end zone to blunt a Northwest Christian first-and-goal opportunity from the seven-yard line.

Toss in the second Martin-inflicted fumble to open the fourth, and the host team kept stalling out in its bid to delight the Homecoming crowd.

But wanting to make sure the local fans knew all their hopes and dreams were really, truly dead, Coupeville put the game on ice (almost) with a three-play combo of delight and wonder.

First, Martin crashed in from five yards out for a touchdown with 8:23 to play.

That was set up by a truly spectacular 37-yard reception by Knoblich, who went airborne and snagged the ball between two defenders while free-falling backwards through all of time and space.

Then the Wolves successfully pulled off an onside kick, with Jonathan Partida dropping like a cat on the madly-bouncing ball.

Northwest Christian was reeling, so CHS immediately went for an uppercut, with Dakota Eck capping the three-play uprising by bolting over the right side for a 47-yard scoring run, his first touchdown of the season.

Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, it went from 20-18 to 32-18 in 12 seconds of elapsed scoreboard time, and we were done with this thing and…

We’re not done? Sweet son of a prickly pear…

Running seven plays in less than two minutes, with a 32-yard pass to the one-yard line a killer, Northwest Christian crashed into the end zone, still hoping for a miracle.

Wolverines/Eagles QB Nathan Joslin scored on a one-yard plunge, but he couldn’t get the ensuing two-point conversion, as Coupeville stepped up and slammed the door (almost) shut.

What followed is the stuff of dreams for football coaches.

Up by a single score, with 6:21 still on the clock, Coupeville punched Northwest Christian in the kisser, methodically moving down the field, chewing up yardage, and, more importantly, time.

Mixing in runs from Eck, Martin, and birthday boy Gavin Straub, the Wolves kept the chains and the clock turning over, before Houston sealed things with an 11-yard slant pass to Toomey-Stout on third-and-seven from midfield.

As Coupeville went into victory formation, kneeling down twice as the lonely train whistle echoed through the pine trees, it felt perfect.

Well, at least for the six or seven Wolf fans who made the long trek to witness the game in person.

Probably not so much for the hometown fans, but, what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger.

Coupeville put together its most-effective offensive night of the season, as Houston unofficially completed nine passes for 165 yards and a season-high three touchdowns.

Toomey-Stout hauled in six of those bombs, picking up 110 yards, while Knoblich (2-51) and Scott Hilborn (1-4) were also successful targets.

On the ground, the Wolves (again, unofficially) had its big two combine for 200 rushing yards, with Martin carrying the ball 25 times for 109 yards, and Eck scrambling 14 times for 91 yards.

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