Posts Tagged ‘Onalaska’

Wolf seniors Kai Wong (left) and Dominic Coffman hug it out. (Becky Terry photo)

“They gave their town something to be proud of.”

Bennett Richter’s first year as the head football coach at Coupeville High School is one to remember, as he and his squad put together the best run the program has witnessed in 32 seasons.

Which is why, as he hugged his players and thanked them in the cold November air Saturday night, a season-ending loss in the first round of the 2B state playoffs offered a mixture of happiness and sadness for the gridiron guru.

Facing perennial powerhouse Onalaska on the turf at Oak Harbor’s Wildcat Memorial Stadium, the Wolves were doomed by a variety of things in a 30-14 defeat in a game much closer than the score might sound.

A bad bounce here, a call or two which could have gone either way there, and the loss of starting quarterback Logan Downes to a knee injury with the game tied late in the third quarter conspired to deny Coupeville.

Onalaska, which won a state title as recently as 2019, advances to the quarterfinals to face undefeated Okanogan next weekend, while the Wolves finish at 7-2.

That’s the most wins for a CHS gridiron team since the 1990 team went 9-1, which, not coincidentally, was the last time the program won a league title and earned a trip to the state tourney.

Ron Bagby (left) and Jason McFadyen, Coupeville’s coach and starting QB the last time the Wolves were in the state playoffs. (Photo courtesy McFadyen)

Jump forward three decades, or 11,691 days, if we’re counting, and Coupeville football was back in the big dance.

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Wolves earned a “home” playoff game, meaning they travelled just 10 miles up the road to O-Town, while Onalaska bumped and bounced on the bus for close to 200 miles one way.

Richter’s first playoff game as a head coach came on the same field where he played the final two years of his own prep career for Oak Harbor High School.

Both teams came prepared to slug it out, bodies slamming into bodies, uppercuts mixing with jabs. It was an old-fashioned, rock-em, sock-em brawl, just the way the game was designed to be played.

Coupeville got first crack at the ball, mixing up its play-calling with Logan Downes zipping 10 and 15-yard passes to Hunter Bronec and Tim Ursu, respectively.

But a big sack on third-and-nine forced a Wolf punt, and Onalaska went on a 17-play, 88-yard drive which ended with Rodrigo Rodriguez crashing into the end zone from three yards out.

The Wolf defense stiffened, denying the Loggers on a two-point conversion run, but a pattern was set with Onalaska running, running some more, then running another billion times while keeping the clock ticking away.

CHS wasn’t backing down, however, and it reclaimed the lead on its second drive.

Back-to-back penalties on Onalaska got things rolling, while Ursu made a phenomenal snag on a fourth-down pass while bouncing all of his body off the turf.

With the Logger defense back on its heels, Scott Hilborn burst through the line, veered to the left sideline and outran the defense on a 14-yard scoring run, knotting things at 6-6 with 9:47 left in the half.

A booming PAT kick from Daylon Houston gave Coupeville its one and only lead of the game at 7-6, but Rodriguez punched in a one-yard scoring run two minutes later to push the visitors back in front.

This time the Loggers were successful on their conversion play to push the margin to 14-7.

Wolf lineman Josh Upchurch and his biggest lil’ fan. (Brittany Kolbet photo)

With the ball back in their hands, the Wolves put together a stellar drive which, unfortunately, ended in heartbreak.

Downes was operating at peak performance, threading a 14-yard pass to Hilborn through a forest of defender arms, while also juking a Logger defender out of his shoes on a 19-yard quarterback scramble.

Toss in a face mask penalty on Onalaska and several smash-mouth runs from Dominic Coffman, shedding tacklers by knocking them on their butts, and the Wolves were headed for the tying score.

And it looked like they got it, until the refs said no, no, no.

Downes pegged a pass to the left on third-and-goal from the seven-yard line, and in the resulting explosion of bodies, the ball came loose.

Had the Wolf receiver already crossed the line, as Coupeville coaches argued?

Or did the ball pop free before the six points were official, allowing Onalaska to pounce on it for a touchback?

The refs ruled the latter, and it stung badly for the Wolves.

Hilborn did his best to make sure the score would stay at 14-7, bringing down a runner behind the line for a solid loss, then skying high to poke away a potential touchdown pass on the final play of the half.

Still, Onalaska had the lead, and would receive the opening second-half kickoff. Coupeville needed to make a stand.

And boy howdy, did the Wolves, as they forced, and recovered fumbles on three straight possessions.

Two of those came on on-side kicks, the ball skittering off of Loggers and being snatched up by Coupeville’s rampaging pack of hit-happy defenders.

The Wolves converted the second of those turnovers into a game-tying touchdown, with Downes hitting Hilborn on a 25-yard pass, before Coffman blew through the line on his way for a 19-yard jaunt to the end zone.

The third of those fumble recoveries seemingly shifted the momentum firmly to Coupeville, only for tragedy to strike.

Downes connected with Ursu on another big pass play only to be smushed while scrambling three plays later.

The ball popped free, was recovered by Onalaska, but then popped free a second time thanks to a wicked hit from a Wolf defender at the goal line and looked like it had been recovered by Coupeville.

Instead, the refs ruled the Loggers retained possession, which set them up with a first-and-goal at the two-yard line.

Enter Mr. Rodriguez, who bowled over the Wolf defense with what would prove to be the winning score.

While Onalaska’s splendid sophomore celebrated a three-touchdown game, the mood was much more somber on Coupeville’s side of the field.

Downes spent the game’s final 16 minutes on the sideline, his knee wrapped in ice, with freshman QB Chase Anderson making a sudden, unexpected playoff debut against a fired-up Logger defense.

After throwing just 10 passes during the regular season, the young gun held up well in the spotlight, hitting a 20-yard pass to Ursu late in the game and showing fleet feet on scrambles.

But the Onalaska defense was stout and stingy, and it held at the most-important moment of the game.

After almost bending too far.

Coupeville, trailing 22-14 and facing third-and-12 from its own three-yard line late in the fourth quarter, pulled off a play which had, in the words of CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, “both the razzle and the dazzle.”

Anderson flipped the ball to Ursu, who dropped a pass over the defense and into the long arms of Bronec, who weaved back and forth for 54 yards before finally being brought down from behind.

Add in that previously mentioned 20-yard bomb from Anderson to Ursu, and a shorter, but still very key pass to Houston, and the Wolves were in business.

Until Onalaska stiffened, denying Coupeville on a third-down plunge from the one-yard line, on a play which got more damaging after the refs dinged the Wolves for unsportsmanlike conduct.

A questionable call, that shoved CHS back to the 18-yard line, and an interception on the next play put a cap on things.

Don’t stop believin’. (Becky Terry photo)

Or so it seemed, until the Wolves quickly forced a three-and-out, got the ball back with less than two minutes to play, and went for the tie one more time.

Anderson alertly scrambled away from the defense to get Coupeville to midfield, but a holding penalty on the Wolves two plays later hurt.

Onalaska finally slammed the door shut with just 48 ticks on the clock thanks to a pick-six from Case McGraw, sending Logger fans to the parking lot with an extra skip to their steps.

While the loss ends Coupeville’s season, the 2022 campaign was a huge step forward for a program which failed to post a winning record between 2006-2018.

The coach who ended that skid in 2019, Marcus Carr, was on hand Saturday to watch his former players in action, as was Ron Bagby, who led the last Wolf gridiron squad to reach the state playoffs in 1990.

This year’s team boasted 34 players, the deepest roster in years, and racked up 52 touchdowns, led by Coffman (14 TD’s), Hilborn (13), and Ursu (12).

The Wolves scored 26 times on the ground — tying the program record set in 2014 — 18 times through the air, twice on interceptions, twice on fumble recoveries, twice on kickoff returns, and twice on punt returns.

More than the wins and losses, however, was how the team gelled, and how the community rallied around them.

The stands were overflowing for home games, fans traveled for road rumbles, near or far, and there was an excitement around the program which was infectious.

“The guys poured their hearts into this all season,” Richter said. “You can see that tonight with the hugs and the emotion.

“A loss always stings, but this is a resilient group; they didn’t put their heads down no matter the situation,” he added.

“The seniors led, and the young guys stepped up, and now that they’ve had a taste of what this is like, they’ll want more.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them!”

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Lexie Black and friends beat Onalaska the one time the schools played at the state tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville doesn’t lose to Onalaska in the state playoffs.

That’s just a stone-cold fact.


As we head towards Saturday’s gridiron rumble between the Wolves and Loggers, I decided to look back and see if the two schools had ever met before at the big dance.

And lo and behold, they have, and Coupeville won the showdown.

No, we’re not talking about the Wolf football team.

Instead, the one previous time Onalaska and CHS met in the state tourney, it was the school’s girls’ basketball squads which faced off in Mortal Kombat.

The date was Feb. 27, 2002, and the Wolves held off the Loggers 39-31 in a first-round game, the first of two victories Coupeville captured as they advanced to the semifinals.

A 53-37 dunking of Overlake the next day pushed CHS to within two wins of a state title, but it wasn’t to be, as losses to Colfax and Brewster left the Wolf hoops stars with a 6th place trophy.

The 2001-2002 Coupeville girls’ hardwood team remains the highest scoring unit in program history, rippling the nets for 1,499 points as six players topped triple-digits.

Brianne King led the way with 386 points, with Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby (266), Sarah Mouw (259), Erica Lamb (174), Amy Mouw (137), and Tracy Taylor (115) also making the nets pop.

Rounding out a deep roster were Vanessa Davis, Carly Guillory, Christine Larson, Lexie Black, Whitney Clark, and Taniel Lamb.

And what does this all mean?

Well, probably not a whole lot, seeing as how those Wolf basketball players are all in their mid to late 30’s now, and no current CHS football player was alive in 2002.

But it is a fun fact.

And if Coupeville fans holler “The Wolves don’t lose to Onalaska!” Saturday, well, facts are facts, even when they’re cherry-picked by bloggers with possibly too much time on their hands.

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Coupeville QB Logan Downes has thrown for 17 touchdowns this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Forget about Friday Night Lights.

The Coupeville High School football team will play its first state playoff game in 32 years in the daylight, on a different weekend day.

The Wolves (7-1) host Onalaska (5-5) in a loser-out game, with the action set to go down Saturday, Nov. 12 at Oak Harbor’s Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

Kickoff is 4:00 PM.

The date and time were likely selected to ease the travel burden on Onalaska, which is looking at a nearly 400-mile round trip.

Saturday’s tilt features a Coupeville program which last made it to the big dance in 1990 against a school which won state football titles in 1986 and 2019.

The Loggers won two playoff games last season before falling to eventual state champ Kalama in the semifinals.

Saturday’s winner heads to Eastern Washington the next week, with a quarterfinal matchup against Okanogan (10-0).

Ticket prices for the playoff opener, which are set by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, and not the schools involved:


Adults and high school/middle school students without ASB — $10
Senior Citizens (62+) — $7
High school/middle school students with ASB — $7
Elementary school students — $7
Children (4 and under) — FREE


Tickets can be purchased in person with cash or online at:


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Kevin Partida and associates host Onalaska next weekend in the first round of the 2B state football playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The journey begins (almost) at home.

Making its first appearance in the state playoffs since 1990, the Coupeville High School football team was seeded #7 Sunday in a field of 12 teams chasing the 2B gridiron crown.

That means the Wolves host #10 Onalaska in a loser-out first round game.

The game will be played either Friday, Nov. 11 or Saturday, Nov. 12, with the date and kickoff time to be announced Monday.

And where will the royal rumble go down?

Barring a late plot twist, it will be at Oak Harbor’s Wildcat Memorial Stadium, which means just an 11.3-mile jaunt for the Wolves.

Onalaska’s players, meanwhile, get to enjoy a 195-mile trek. Or almost 400 miles round trip.

And why is Coupeville not hosting the game on its own home field?

Because, if I understand correctly, we’re being dinged for not having covered seating for road fans, which the 3,000-seat Wildcat Memorial Stadium offers.

CHS football managers extraordinaire Brenna Silveira (left) and Melanie Navarro — the rain never bothered them anyway. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

But hosting the game in Oak Harbor is a homecoming, of sorts, for first year Coupeville head coach Bennett Richter.

He was a sophomore on the 2006 Oak Harbor gridiron squad which won a 4A state title despite not being allowed to play postseason games at home because its World War II-vintage stadium was crumbling into dust.

I’m just saying, from my perch in the press box at the ol’ junk heap in the ’90s, I once watched a little girl bounce on the wooden bleachers, then vanish out of sight as a board broke.

Simmer down. She was only on the third row up.

She was unhappy (lord, was she unhappy), but she survived.

The stadium not so much, and by 2006, it had been condemned, before the giddiness of the state title convinced Oak Harbor to go build a brand new, swanky home roost.

Sort of the “House Bennett Built,” if you will.

What do you mean former Wildcat (and Wazzu) QB Marshall Lobbestael, he of the heavenly passes which sparked the title run, would like to have a word with me??


Back in 2022, the winner of the Coupeville vs. Onalaska tilt advances to the state quarterfinals to face second-seeded Okanogan, one of two undefeated teams in the field.

You can find the bracket here:


And while you’re waiting for next weekend (or working for the weekend, if you want Loverboy’s approval), here’s how Coupeville and Onalaska stack up.



Coupeville (7-1)
Onalaska (5-5)



Coupeville — Northwest 2B/1B League
Onalaska — Central 2B League



Coupeville — Wolves
Onalaska — Loggers


Head Coaches:

Coupeville — Bennett Richter (1st year)
Onalaska — Mazen Saade (14th year)




Beat Klahowya (41-21)
Lost to South Whidbey (44-28)
Beat Sultan (30-13)
Beat La Conner (46-0)
Beat Friday Harbor (35-3)
Beat Bellingham (48-6)
Cascade (Leavenworth) CANCELLED by smoke
Beat La Conner (78-0)
Beat Friday Harbor (43-14)



Beat Oroville (30-0)
Lost to Napavine (68-0)
Lost to Goldendale (20-0)
Lost to Tenino (40-6)
Lost to Toledo (38-12)
Beat Kalama (48-30)
Beat Stevenson (44-14)
Lost to Adna (7-6)
Beat Wahkiakum (50-28)
Beat Morton White-Pass (26-8)


Last trip to state:

Coupeville — 1990
Onalaska — 2021


Total trips to state:

Coupeville (4) — (0-4)
Onalaska (18) — (14-16) — Two state titles (1986 and 2019)


Plus, we have a rock.

And they have a rock.

Time to rock ‘n roll.

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