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Posts Tagged ‘season opener’

Jada Heaton (left) and Mia Farris are ready to rumble. (Jennifer Heaton photo)

“It was pure joy to see all these girls back on the field!!”

The Central Whidbey Little League Juniors softball squad opened a new season Monday — a major milestone during the Age of Coronavirus — and just getting back in action was enough to leave coach Fred Farris with a huge smile (under his mask).

While the Hammerheads fell short on the scoreboard, with arch-rival North Whidbey rallying for a 16-6 win, the CWLL coach was pleased with a lot of what he saw.

“Girls played great defense and were in good shape,” Farris said.

The diamond guru also had to tip his hat to the rival pitcher, Addison Morales, who he and CWLL assistant coach Kim Brotemarkle helped train.

“We coached her in fall ball three or four years ago and she was just learning to pitch then,” Farris said. “She has really turned into a great pitcher and pitched a great game.”

Facing off with Morales was Chloe Marzocca, who tossed a complete game for Central Whidbey and was often very effective, scattering six hits.

At the plate, Teagan Calkins and Madison McMillan had booming bats for the Hammerheads, collecting two hits apiece.

Calkins delivered a triple and two RBI, McMillan scored twice and stole five bases, while four other Central players came around to tap home plate.

Jada Heaton, Mayleen Weatherford, Katie Marti, and Mia Farris all scored, with Heaton (4), Farris (3), and Marti (2) combining for nine steals.

Taylor Brotemarkle, Anna Steckman, and Candace Meek round out the 11-player Hammerhead roster.

The two teams will meet again, with Central Whidbey set to face North Whidbey six times during a 16-game schedule.

It’s a rivalry Fred Farris embraces.

“I wanted to mention what great sportsmanship the North Whidbey players and coaches showed,” he said. “Although rivals on the field, they truly are great friends off of it.”

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Aiden O’Neill (5) and Landon Roberts (across from him) crash the boards. (Sherry Roberts photo)

The nets are back open for business.

High school hoops are still a few weeks away, but Coupeville’s 7th/8th grade SWISH boys basketball squad hit the hardwood Saturday in Burlington, bouncing Orcas Island 32-23.

The season-opening victory kicks off what should be a seven-game schedule — if the pandemic doesn’t mess with things.

What began as a bit of a defensive struggle, with Coupeville clinging to a 10-9 halftime advantage, soon broke heavily in favor of the Wolves.

Chase Anderson led the way, dropping in 10 of his team-high 13 points in the second half.

He banked in a pair of three-balls during his torrid run, while teammate Johnny Porter dominated in the paint.

Six of Coupeville’s eight players scratched their name in the scorebook Saturday, with Johnny Porter and Aiden O’Neill collecting six points apiece in support of Anderson’s 13.

Also rattling the rim were Jack Porter, who knocked down three points, and Camden Glover and Hunter Bronec, who added a bucket apiece.

Defensive dynamos Landon Roberts and Hurley Bronec also saw extensive playing time for a Coupeville squad which returns to action next Saturday, May 1.

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Genna Wright, seen here during tennis, netted Coupeville’s first soccer goal of the season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s back.

It’s been 585 days since Genna Wright left the soccer pitch in agony, suffering a devastating injury in the season opener of her junior season.

Chucked hard from behind while sprinting towards the sideline in pursuit of a ball, the effervescent star went down awkwardly, tearing her ACL, MCL, and meniscus.

In the blink of an eye, her season was done, and then the hits kept coming.

Surgery. Recovery. A worldwide pandemic shutting down prep sports just as she was set to return.

Jump forward to Wednesday night, though, and a lot of that melted away.

Wright, running free in front of family and friends once again, slashed through La Conner’s defense to open her senior campaign with a much-more positive result, and her smile, and those of her teammates, lit up Mickey Clark Field.

By the time the Wolves were done ripping up the turf, they had a tidy 4-0 win over the visiting Braves, putting Coupeville atop the Northwest 2B/1B League standings a game into a pared-down six-game schedule.

With two more games against La Conner, and three against Mount Vernon Christian, CHS is chasing the first league title in program history.

Play like they did Wednesday, and the Wolf booters will soon have a place on the Wall of Fame in the CHS gym.

Coupeville struck quickly, with Wright going on a rampage barely four minutes into the game.

Fed a ball by Carolyn Lhamon, the resurgent one went coast-to-coast, then slapped a shot left to right, burying the ball in the corner of the net for the year’s first score.

It was the 18th prep goal for Wright — she had 10 as a freshman, and seven as a sophomore — allowing her to break a tie with Lindsey Roberts as the #3 scorer in CHS girls soccer history.

Mia Littlejohn (35 goals) and Kalia Littlejohn (33) sit at #1 and #2 all-time.

The Wolves stayed on the attack the rest of the first half, keeping the ball on La Conner’s side of the field, but narrowly missed on a couple of prime scoring opportunities.

Up 1-0 at the break, with goaltender Mollie Bailey able to spend much of her time quietly basking in the sun, Coupeville broke things open in the second half.

Sophie Martin crunched a shot which should have been a goal, only to have it be redirected by the La Conner goalie’s knee, while Audrianna Shaw and Wright also had strong looks which didn’t quite pay off.

But then the dam broke, as the Wolves whacked home three scores in the final 22+ minutes.

Eryn Wood was first up, punching in a ball off of a feed from Shaw, before Lhamon and Reese Wilkinson buried shots in the back of the net.

It was Wood’s second career high school goal, and the first for both of her teammates.

Coupeville continued to hammer away, with Lily Leedy putting together a nice run on goal which fell just short, while the Wolf defense was virtually lights out.

Bailey was her usual calm self in goal, flicking away the few shots La Conner mounted, but watched as her defenders did much of the dirty work.

Nezi Keiper, Anna Myles, Katelin McCormick, and Mary Milnes were a wall in the backfield, blunting any chance the Braves had to mount a threat.

CHS coach Kyle Nelson has his program in a strong place, with a 17-woman roster which also includes Ava Mitten, Camryn Clark, Sofia Milasich, Noelle Daigneault, and Gwen Crowder.

The Wolves are back at it Saturday, hosting Mount Vernon Christian in a game set to kickoff at 1 PM.

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Ben Smith rushed for 104 yards, and the winning touchdown, as Coupeville nipped La Conner Saturday in an overtime thriller. (Photo courtesy Deb Smith)

He worked for this. He fought for this. He prayed for this.

When Ben Smith played the final football game of his junior season, a road contest at Interlake back in November 2019, he had no clue the world would go topsy-turvy less than four months later.

As the pandemic overran every part of our lives, high school sports were largely put on the backburner.

For Smith, the possibility of not being allowed to play his senior season has haunted him, and driven him.

He worked out, he trained, he followed every Covid-related news story he could find. Even in the darkest moments, he believed.

Saturday night, Smith and his Coupeville High School gridiron teammates, coaches, families, and fans were rewarded for that faith.

Stepping onto the gridiron to face a rival school for the first time in 17 months, playing “fall sports” in the second week of April, the Wolves rose to the occasion.

Winning a war of attrition between two young, scrappy squads, Coupeville pulled off an electrifying 6-0 win in its Northwest 2B/1B League opener.

In a game which saw big plays on defense and offense (no matter what the score might indicate), the biggest was a one-yard bull run into the end zone by Smith to cap the first high school football overtime game seen in Cow Town in maybe forever.

It’s certainly been at least a few years, as the refs huddled to refresh themselves on OT rules, while at least one fan hollered at another, “Don’t go anywhere! This ain’t soccer!! We don’t go for ties!!!”

Or, maybe that was just playing on a loop in my own head…

Never know.

But then, after 48 minutes of two teams — longtime old-school rivals reunited with Coupeville’s move from 1A to 2B — standing in the middle of the ring and smashing each other to a pulp, the Wolves dropped the hammer.

La Conner got the ball first in overtime, awarded a first-and-10 from the Coupeville 25.

At which point the Braves held on to the ball for all of about three seconds.

The Wolf defense surged, 11 men strong, battering the ball-carrier on the first play, the pigskin popping free and hitting the turf, screaming “Freedom!” like Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart.

CHS freshman Zane Oldenstadt pulled off a sweet two-for-one special, wrapping up La Conner’s runner, while also reaching in and punching the ball free, with senior Dakota Eck pouncing on the suddenly-free ball.

Freshman Zane Oldenstadt came up big on both sides of the ball. (Photo courtesy Michelle Glass)

The lightning-quick turn of events handed the ball back to Coupeville, and there was no stopping Smith.

Completing a 24-carry, 104-yard performance, he plunged up the middle four straight times, his linemen driving the Braves onto their heels each time.

The first carry garnered four yards, the next two 10 apiece.

Then the final dagger went in, Smith crashing from right to left, punching a hole to the promised land, before sprinting off, his teammates chasing him to celebrate.

“This was the best game I’ve ever played in!!,” he said while bouncing with joy from well-wisher to well-wisher.

For Smith’s head coach, getting a win was big, but just returning to action was even bigger.

“Just being out there, being able to compete, play against another opponent, is huge,” Marcus Carr said. “Our defense was outstanding, and our young guys really stepped up.”

While it was a long time ago, the last Wolf team to play earned the program’s first winning record since 2005, then graduated a strong batch of seniors.

One of those departed guys, Sean Toomey-Stout, is now competing for a roster spot at the University of Washington, and the CHS coaches went and watched him participate in spring practices before their game.

Then they unleashed their newest batch of Wolves, who played with their own fiery abandon.

Alternating junior Cole Hutchinson and freshman Logan Downes at quarterback, Coupeville mixed in some precise passing with a fair amount of smash-mouth running on offense.

On defense, it was big plays and big hits, as the Wolves never allowed La Conner inside its 35-yard line during regulation.

Brian Casey, back in action after an injury cost him most of his sophomore season, made a big splash, roaring in to recover an early fumble.

After scooping up the ball, Casey moved to the sideline, the removal of his helmet revealing the most luxurious mane of golden hair in all the land, bringing an audible gasp of approval from scoreboard operator Joel Norris.

“Dude is rockin’ the killer hair!!”

Wolf sophomore Dominic Coffman may have shorter hair than Casey, but he also came up big on defense, crashing through La Conner’s line for a big-time sack deep in the backfield.

CHS stuffed the Braves on a fourth-and-one — a play upheld by a measurement from Coupeville’s all-star chain gang — with a bevy of players earning roars for other stops.

Miles Davidson, Isaiah Bittner, Josh Upchurch, and Kai Wong joined Smith in smashing runners, while Sage Downes, Tim Ursu, Scott Hilborn, and Daylon Houston chased down foes from behind, denying them crucial first downs.

While Coupeville’s defense was rock-solid, its offense was often inspired, yet came up just short of busting things wide open.

Unlike La Conner, the Wolves made it down inside the 20-yard line twice in regulation, only to have their momentum blunted by an equally-scrappy Braves defense.

The first time, Logan Downes zipped silky-smooth passes into the hands of Eck (20 yards) and older brother Sage Downes (16 yards), setting up a first-and-10 at the La Conner 18.

CHS stalled out there, though, then got unlucky on a big drive midway through the third quarter.

After softening the defense with a steady diet of Smith playing battering ram, the Wolves (almost) pulled off a stunning play.

Hutchinson found Sage Downes on the move down the left side of the field, and then things got weird.

Downes pulled in the pass, took a step or two, got hit, the ball popped free, the La Conner defender stopped his pursuit to try and convince the ref it was an incomplete pass…

Pause for a deep breath.

So then Downes picked up the ball and spun away, looking like he was on his way to a possible touchdown, only to be hit by a different Brave, with the ball getting away once again, only this time it was La Conner who recovered it.

And scene.

While the game remained scoreless throughout regulation, the action was never boring, and both teams played surprisingly smoothly considering the long layoff.

There were few penalties, and even though neither team could crack the end zone until overtime, Coupeville got folks excited right at the end of regulation.

With the ball in his hands and 17 ticks on the clock, Logan Downes scrambled out of the hands of a would-be sacker, picking up five yards on a play seemingly destined to lose 10 just moments before.

The Wolf 9th grader then put up a potentially game-winning bomb from the 38-yard line on the final play before overtime.

It disappeared into a mass of hands, as multiple La Conner defenders harassed a Wolf receiver, falling just short of providing a miracle ending.

Not that it mattered in the end, as Coupeville’s overtime domination was just a heartbeat away, sending the Wolf football faithful back to their cars with an extra skip in their steps.

The pandemic is still with us. Life is not yet back to normal.

But, for three hours Saturday night, Ben Smith and his classmates, those on the field and those in the stands, got to focus on something positive.

Take your wins, in a game or in real life, and hold on to them.

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Wolf sophomore Jill Prince blasted six kills Thursday in her varsity debut. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a clean sweep on opening night.

After a considerable pause in action thanks to the ongoing pandemic, Coupeville High School volleyball players returned to the court Thursday, and did so in style.

Playing for the first time since November 5, 2019, the Wolf spikers pounded host Concrete, taking three-set wins at both the varsity and JV level.

The twin wins kick off fall sports, which are being played AFTER spring sports this time around, and reintroduce Coupeville volleyball to its old-school home, the Northwest 2B/1B League.

Next up is two-time defending 2B state champs La Conner, which comes to Whidbey Tuesday, April 13 for a big early test for the revamped Wolves.

How Thursday played out:

 

Varsity:

Despite playing with just a seven-player rotation, with four of those girls being varsity newbies, the Wolves held on for a 25-16, 25-23, 25-23 win.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with our introduction to this new league and how the girls went out there to compete and lay a strong foundation for growth,” said CHS head coach Cory Whitmore.

“They got a lot of touches in and had to rely on themselves to get the job done,” he added. “They responded well after timeouts and that is something I’m so impressed with.”

Senior Chelsea Prescott paced her squad on opening night, collecting 10 kills, 12 digs, and six service aces.

Also piling up the stats were Maddie Vondrak (12 booming kills), Jaimee Masters (12 digs), Kylie Chernikoff (five kills, five digs), Maddie Georges (25 assists and six digs), Jill Prince (six kills), and Ryanne Knoblich (six digs, two kills, two aces).

“After nearly a year and a half of not having played, it was terrific to see them get out there and have fun while competing,” Whitmore said.

“We are excited to get back in the gym and work on some things that need tightening, make some adjustments and learn from this first game.”

While all seven Wolves to see the floor drew praise from their coach, one in particular got a little extra love for showing grit and determination.

“Special shoutout to Kylie Chernikoff, who played through a pretty rough knock to the jaw by a fellow teammate,” Whitmore said. “She took a lot of Concrete’s serves and handled them well despite being a bit battered.”

 

JV:

Former CHS volleyball ace Ashley Menges made her debut as a coach, guiding the young Wolves to a 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 win.

While the set scores were close, Coupeville was able to pull out points at crucial moments, something which bodes well for the future.

Ashley Menges

“Everyone played well,” Menges said. “And it was nice to see everyone work through the kinks, especially since we crammed so much information and practice into a short amount of time.

“I’m very proud of the girls and excited to start the season with a win!”

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