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CHS legends Marie and Ron Bagby are both retiring. (Ashley Heilig photo)

2020 is turning into a farewell tour for longtime Wolves.

On the heels of Randy King announcing his retirement as a Coupeville High School teacher, Ron and Marie Bagby are joining him in exiting the building.

The retirements of the husband/wife duo, who have both worked for the school district for decades, are included on the agenda for the next school board meeting, set for Tuesday, May 26.

Ron Bagby, who coached football, basketball, and track and field at CHS, after arriving in Cow Town from the wilds of Forks, was currently a PE teacher at the school.

Marie Bagby, née Grasser, is a graduate of Coupeville who was the school’s first big-time female basketball star, starting a legacy continued by younger sister Marlene.

Playing for the Wolves between 1976-1980, she rang up 321 points, and still sits as the #34 scorer all-time in program history.

Marie operated as the registrar for her alma mater, while all four of her children – April, Ashley, Mike, and Jason – followed her path as Wolf athletic stars and CHS grads.

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Coupeville High School football hasn’t posted a winning record since 2005, the longest dry spell for any Wolf athletic program. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s an uphill battle.

As we hit three weeks and counting until the first official practice of a new fall high school sports season, the Wolf football squad — which opens things Aug. 21 — remains mired in a long dry spell.

It’s been 14 seasons since the Coupeville gridiron team posted a winning record, by far the longest skid for a CHS program.

That run, in which the Wolves have posted one .500 season and 12 losing marks, covers six coaches and four (or maybe five) leagues.

Coupeville is playing an independent, non-conference schedule this season as second-year coach Marcus Carr works on rebuilding the program.

New classification counts happen this year, and will go into effect with the 2020-2021 school year.

With new hard count rules, CHS is expected to finally be allowed to return to 2B at that point, after being one of the smallest 1A schools for many years.

During this year of limbo, the Wolf football program opted to break with the 1A North Sound Conference after one season. Coupeville went 3-6 overall, 0-5 in league play in 2018.

Since they’re not part of a league, the Wolves can only make the playoffs this fall if they go 9-0, something they last accomplished in 1990.

While perfection is the goal, posting a winning record would constitute a major step in the right direction.

You have to go back, through the North Sound Conference, through the 1A Olympic League, through the 1A/2A Cascade Conference, and land in Coupeville’s final year in the 1A Northwest League, to find the last Wolf gridiron team to break .500.

That covers four leagues, or, technically, five.

Coupeville was in the Olympic League from 2014-2018, but the final two seasons the conference linked up with the 1A Nisqually League for football only, creating an eight-team, two-league hybrid.

But four leagues, or five, the point is you have to go back fairly far to find a CHS football team with a positive win/loss record.

The last one was the 2005 edition, coached by longtime football guru Ron Bagby, who put in 26 seasons on the sidelines at Mickey Clark Field.

Those Wolves went 6-5, won four straight games at one point, had a winning record on the road, and finished third in a tough eight-team league.

The Northwest League champs, Friday Harbor, a team Coupeville would reunite with if it goes 2B, went 12-1 that year, losing in the state semifinals.

La Conner, the only other league team the Wolves lost to, were knocked out of the playoffs by Friday Harbor.

The 2005 Northwest League standings:

School League Overall
Friday Harbor 7-0 12-1
La Conner 6-1 8-3
Coupeville 5-2 6-5
CPC-Bothell 3-4 4-6
Orcas Island 3-4 7-5
Annie Wright 2-5 4-5
Concrete 2-5 3-7
Darrington 0-7 0-8

After opening the non-conference schedule with a pair of losses, Coupeville reeled off six wins in seven games, before closing with a pair of defeats.

The first stumble, against La Conner, came in a battle for second-place in the final conference standings, while the second loss came in the playoff opener.

Coupeville’s 2005 schedule:

Blaine — lost 46-20
@Granite Falls — lost 15-13
Tacoma Baptist — won 36-0
@Concrete — won 34-14
Friday Harbor — lost 61-22
@Orcas — won 33-18
Annie Wright — won 42-20
@Darrington — won 35-15
@CPC-Bothell — won 44-22
La Conner — lost 38-22
@Kalama — lost 26-0

After that, it was off to a 1A/2A league which featured private school powers Archbishop Thomas Murphy and King’s, and things haven’t been quite the same since.

How CHS football has done since 2005:

2006 — (4-6) — Ron Bagby
2007 — (5-6) — Ron Bagby
2008 — (0-10) — Ron Bagby
2009 — (4-6) — Ron Bagby
2010 — (2-8) — Jay Silver
2011 — (1-8) — Jay Silver
2012 — (2-9) — Tony Maggio
2013 — (4-5) — Tony Maggio
2014 — (5-5) — Tony Maggio
2015 — (1-9) — Brett Smedley
2016 — (3-7) — Jon Atkins
2017 — (3-7) — Jon Atkins
2018 — (3-6) — Marcus Carr

So, how does that compare with other athletic programs at CHS?

Well, the other nine Wolf teams which keep win/loss records (that excludes track and cross country) have all had a winning season in the 2010’s.

Volleyball and softball, which have both been to the state tourney recently, are the most-successful, with winning seasons three years running.

Cory Whitmore is the only active CHS coach to have posted a plus-.500 mark in every season at the helm, having guided the spikers to 11-6, 13-5, and 11-5 marks since taking the job prior to the 2016-2017 season.

Softball coach Kevin McGranahan is hot on his heels, with winning seasons in three of four years on the job.

Under his guidance, the Wolf diamond sluggers have gone 19-5, 12-9, and 15-10 the past three springs.

Each CHS program’s last winning season, with ** indicating it came in that team’s most-recent campaign:

Softball (15-10) — spring 2019 — Kevin McGranahan **
Volleyball (11-5) — fall 2018 — Cory Whitmore **
Boys Tennis (8-6) — fall 2018 — Ken Stange **
Baseball (15-6) — spring 2018 — Chris Smith
Girls Tennis (6-3) — spring 2017 — Ken Stange
Girls Basketball (15-6) — winter 2017 — David King
Girls Soccer (8-7-1) — fall 2016 — Troy Cowan
Boys Soccer (10-8) — spring 2012 — Paul Mendes
Boys Basketball (16-5) — winter 2010 — Randy King
Football (6-5) — fall 2005 — Ron Bagby

So, in the end, what does this all mean?

It’s not meant to embarrass the CHS football program, which has had quality players and coaches during these lean years.

But history is history, and it can’t be ignored.

The teams of the past, whether they were highly-successful or struggled, give the current squads something to shoot for, to compare themselves against.

I have faith we’ll see another Wolf football team post a winning record.

So dig deep, 2019 squad. It’s time to get off the schneid.

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“So, anything else you want to tell us, coach?” “Nope.” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, it hasn’t been a full five months…

I swear, the next time Ron Bagby tells me he won an award will be the first.

The former Coupeville High School coach still wanders the hallways and gyms at the school, fulfilling his teacherly duties, and I’ve run into him on numerous occasions as winter turned into spring.

Yet, in typical low-key Bags style, he never once mentioned he was inducted into another Hall of Fame back in January.

I mean, once you’re in the totally made-up Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, as he is, probably everything else kind of pales in comparison. I get it.

But, thanks to a tip from Carmen McFadyen, who got the news from her son Jason, who starred for football and basketball teams coached by Bags back in the day, who got the info from former teammate Dan Neider, I’m on top of things.

Five months late…

So, back in Jan., Bags snuck out of town, headed down the road to his former home, the far-flung outpost of Forks, and was inducted into the Spartan Basketball Hall of Fame.

And I’m gonna stop you right there.

Forks High School has a freakin’ REAL Hall of Fame for basketball and we here in Coupeville DO NOT.

Come on, people.

We have Jeff Stone, and Bill Riley, and Jeff Rhubottom, and the ’69-’70 Team o’ Death and Destruction, and 10,000 Keefe brothers, and Jack “The Zinger” Elzinga.

Then there’s Hawthorne Wolfe, the floppy-haired reincarnation of Pistol Pete, coming for all their scoring records, and on and on it goes.

And that’s only half the story, with the girls game giving us Makana Stone, and Novi Barron, and Marlene Grasser, with Maddie Big Time droppin’ half-court bombs and Julia Myers droppin’ forearm shivers.

I want a frickin’ real Hall of Fame!

But anyways.

Back in reality, or Forks at least, Bags was always kind of a big deal in the town long before the sparkly vampires brought in all the tourists.

In his younger days, he won a state track title in 1978, blistering the oval in the 100, and this on the heels of being a First-Team All-State running back for a team he helped propel deep into the playoffs.

So they know his name, and his game, in Forks.

During a doubleheader against Tenino this winter, the laconic one was immortalized again, this time for his play on the hardwood.

And for any of his students who watch him amble by, and think to themselves, “I could beat Bags,” no, you can’t, and yes, you’re an idiot.

Time may have (slightly) tamped down his hops, but he’d still annihilate you on the court … then never tell me about it.

Back when he was wearing the Forks shorty shorts, Bags tossed in 52 points against Tenino, setting a Far West League single-game record which stands to this day.

Just to put the cherry on top, his final bucket, coming in a game before the three-point line, came off of a steal, and the ensuing layup capped a 79-77 win for the Spartans.

At which point he exited the court, looked around at all the fans, and said, “Let us never speak of this again.”

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   Coupeville has a new stadium. We should name it in honor of the ol’ ball coach, Ron Bagby.

Coupeville High School football is in a bad place.

This is not meant as a criticism of any individual currently or previously involved in the program. But it is reality.

CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith is in the process of finding a new head coach, and that hire will be the third head coach in four years, and the fifth in the last nine seasons.

For next year’s seniors, guys like Matt Hilborn and Shane Losey, they will have spent most of their prep careers just trying to get comfortable with a coach, only to have him depart midway through the process.

The Wolves haven’t posted a winning record since they went 6-5 in 2005.

That’s 11 losing seasons in 12 years, with a 5-5 mark in 2014 the only mild bright spot.

But there is hope. Real hope.

Coupeville is not a school stuck in the midst of an epic losing skid. It is not Glascock County in Georgia, which lost 82 straight games from 1990-99.

The Wolves retain ownership of The Bucket, having drilled Island arch-rival South Whidbey in back-to-back seasons, and they have some very talented players set to return next fall.

Sean Toomey-Stout, AKA “The Torpedo,” was on his way to an All-Conference season on both sides of the ball as a sophomore before an injury against Vashon derailed him.

Ty Eck, a standout as a freshman, has returned to Cow Town after playing in Oak Harbor as a sophomore and Missouri as a junior, and is primed to have a stellar senior campaign.

Toss in Hilborn, Losey, Chris Battaglia, Andrew Martin, Dawson Houston, Ryan Labrador, Dane Lucero, Jake Pease and others, and the next CHS head coach will have plenty to work with.

But the program could use a boost, a feel-good injection, and I can think of three things to provide that.

Two are already in place, or will be.

A new coach, whether they come from the current staff or from outside the district, always provides new hope, even more so if they are someone who inspires confidence.

Willie Smith has pledged his next hire will be someone committed to CHS for the long-term, someone willing to put in not just the hours, but the years, to build the program from the ground floor.

Someone like second-year volleyball coach Cory Whitmore or first-year boys basketball coach Brad Sherman, who have both lit a fuse under their programs, and seem like they’re ready to prowl the prairie for decades.

The new football coach will start their season on the road Aug. 31 at Port Townsend, with their home debut set for Sept. 7 against Vashon Island.

That game will be the first football game played with Coupeville’s new stadium in place, which provides another jolt of energy.

Having much-larger stands, with a roof to block out the Whidbey rain and a press box to keep me snug as a bug (well, it’s important to me…), with that stadium on the same side as the parking lot, is HUGE.

And this is where I think CHS, its administration and its fans, should take advantage of the new stadium and use it to provide not one, but two, big jolts of energy to the Wolf football program.

It’s simple.

The field the Wolf gridiron giants, and soccer booters, and track and field throwers, play on, is named for Mickey Clark, a longtime local historian and all-around good guy.

It’s been that way for decades, and there is absolutely, positively, no reason to change it.

But…

With a simple, but very powerful, gesture, we can do more.

When the Wolves take the field against Vashon, the man on the PA system, most likely the aforementioned Willie Smith, should welcome everyone to … “Ron Bagby Stadium at Mickey Clark Field.”

Boom.

With one simple sentence, you honor Coupeville football’s past and you kick the future off in style.

Now, if you’re not from around here, you may be asking, “Who is this man they call Bags?”

He is Coupeville football.

Before our recent string of short-term coaches, Bagby prowled the sidelines for 26 seasons, until his retirement in 2009.

After showing up from the wilds of Forks, the man who once wore the shortest short-shorts since Larry Bird, a man who still owns records as a college football player, transformed the CHS program.

He led the Wolves to their only undefeated season in 1990, hosting a state playoff game at Mickey Clark Field with a squad boasting a 9-0 record.

Bags took numerous teams to the playoffs over the years, was in charge the last time the Wolves posted a winning record, and taught three decades worth of players how to never back down and never give in, regardless of the name on the jersey worn by the other team.

Plus, he coached track and boys basketball, where he remains the last guy to take that program to state (way back in ’88), and also did time as an Athletic Director.

While he currently declines the opportunity to coach, Bagby is still haunting Coupeville’s gyms and weight room as a teacher, which makes this even better.

It is always preferable to honor someone, to pay tribute to them for what they have accomplished and the lives they have affected, while they’re still around to blush.

You name the new stadium for Bags, hang a plaque, get wife Marie and his kids to force him to show up for a pre-game ceremony, and you make that first home game far more than just a game.

I have no doubt former players and coaches would pack the joint for that ceremony, which means we can create something similar to what happened when we did the 101-year anniversary event for boys basketball this winter.

The electricity, the joy, that flowed through our gym that night is like nothing I have ever experienced during my time covering sports here in Cow Town.

It was the past, the present and the future united, and it lit a spark under the Wolf boys basketball team like nobody’s business.

With the stands jammed, with the legends of the past transformed from names in old newsprint into living, breathing men reunited, the current Wolves fed off the energy and savaged Chimacum.

Beyond that one game, the experience continues to have an impact, and there is little doubt a similar night to honor CHS girls basketball will be on the docket for next season.

But, before we get there, we have this golden moment set for Sept. 7 — the start of a new home football season, the introduction of a new coach and a new team, and a shiny new stadium ready for the spotlight.

Bring back the greats of the past, from Ian Barron to Noah Roehl, from Casey Larson to Chad Gale and beyond, honor Bags, a man who made the Wolf football program feared and respected, and inspire the players of today.

It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s right.

“Ladies and gentlemen, and Wolf fans of all ages, welcome … to Ron Bagby Stadium at Mickey Clark Field.”

Just do it.

 

Want to let CHS administrators know how you feel? Sign our petition at:

https://www.change.org/p/david-svien-name-coupeville-s-new-stadium-for-ron-bagby

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Marc Aparicio (John Fisken photo)

   Marc Aparicio, now the baseball coach at CHS, played on the ’87-’88 Wolf boys’ basketball team, the last one to make it to state. (John Fisken photo)

It has been 10,404 days since a Coupeville High School boys’ basketball team last played in the state tourney.

When the Wolf hoops squad exited the floor Thursday, Mar. 3, 1988, after taking a 77-46 loss to Bridgeport, it brought an end to one of the best seasons in program history.

And yet, now, 28 years, five months and 24 days later, it’s a team largely forgotten.

Which is a shame.

Even with the brand spanking new Wall of Fame which went up in the CHS gym this week, the ’87-’88 boys’ basketball players remain largely out of the spotlight, as they came a game short of sharing a league title.

Still, this was a team which went 17-2 in the regular season under coaches Ron Bagby, Sandy Roberts and Cec Stuurmans, undefeated in non-league play and 10-2 in Northwest B League action.

They split with La Conner, winning the second match-up in overtime, giving the eventual league champs (11-1), who finished 5th at state, their only league loss.

What killed Coupeville was an eight-point loss at mid-season to Friday Harbor, the third-best team in a seven-team league.

A very balanced squad — four Wolves (Timm Orsborn, Dan Nieder, Brad Brown and Joe Tessaro) averaged double figures — CHS split four games at Tri-Districts (which it hosted), then went 0-2 at state.

A 55-35 loss to NW Christian (Colbert), followed by their defeat at the hands of Bridgeport, sent the Wolves to the showers at 19-6.

Which stands with pretty much any boys basketball squad in school history.

The program has seven league titles, spread out from 1970 to 2002, one district title (1970), and is 2-10 in five trips to state.

While ’87-’88 can’t claim any of those eight titles, its win total is among the best single-season performances by a Wolf boys squad.

And, until a modern-day crew gets its act together, the players on that roster — Orsborn, Nieder, Brown, Tessaro, Chad Gale, Marc Aparicio, Morgan Roehl, Andrew Bird, Tom Conard, Tony Ford and Brandy Ambrose — stand as the last CHS boys hoops stars to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.

Going through boxes crammed full of random paperwork that were rescued from a back room in the CHS gym complex, I stumbled over a complete stats breakdown for ’87-’88.

In honor of their achievements back then, and their enduring legacy, let’s take a look, shall we?

The stats:

Player GM FG 3PT FT OREB DREB AST TO STL PF PTS PPG
Gale 25 95 35 42 59 42 45 49 57 225 9.0
Brown 24 71 26 33 14 32 61 91 47 49 253 10.5
Nieder 24 102 14 65 35 72 91 84 58 70 311 13.0
Orsborn 25 138 71 91 142 28 44 39 65 347 13.9
Tessaro 25 114 32 103 127 14 54 24 79 260 10.4
Ford 15 35 10 38 31 8 21 10 26 80 5.3
Conard 23 30 4 15 32 21 36 18 18 64 2.8
Aparicio 25 22 4 16 30 18 47 22 30 48 1.9
Ambrose 13 2 2 9 5 15 6 12 4 0.3
Bird 12 2 3 4 2 7 1 4 0.3
Roehl 11 2 6 7 1 6 1 4 0.4
TOTALS 25 613 40 254 365 545 291 450 275 406 1600 64.0

And PS, Marc Aparicio, if you’re wondering where your letter certificate is for that year, it was buried in the back of a file cabinet.

You want it back, you know where I am.

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