Posts Tagged ‘The Bucket’

Teo Keilwitz (left) and Clay Reilly take down a Falcon. (John Fisken photos)

Hunter Smith dives for the end zone. Spoiler: he made it.

   Ignoring the man mountain headed his way, Wolf QB Joel Walstad prepares to fire a TD pass.

You can’t get away from Jacob Martin.

Every game matters, but one matters just a bit more.

Coupeville and South Whidbey were made to be arch-rivals, reasonably close in student body size and proximity, and their turf war has been a memorable one over the years, regardless of sport.

But when the Wolves and Falcons meet on the gridiron, there’s a little something extra at stake, as that clash is the only one which has a trophy.

“The Bucket” (literally a large bucket with each school’s logo on one side) is a fairly recent invention, a way to settle a feud which blossomed at a volleyball match about a decade back.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith hatched the idea and now, each fall, the victor claims the trophy and owns it for the next year.

Coupeville will carry The Bucket with it when it heads to Langley this year, kicking off a new school sports year Friday, Sept. 1, still basking in last year’s 41-10 rout of the Falcons.

With CHS coach Jon Atkins entering his second year at the helm, he’ll try and do something which evaded his recent predecessors — Jay Silver, Tony Maggio and Brett Smedley — and guide the Wolves to back-to-back wins in the grudge match.

After busting a five-year run of South Whidbey wins with an 18-13 victory in 2012, Coupeville fell 57-33 in 2013, won 35-28 in 2014, lost 27-14 in 2015 then romped to a win last year.

Silver (0-2) and Smedley (0-1) never beat the Falcons, while Maggio’s success (2-1) included him out-coaching former college coach Chris Tormey in 2014.

This time around, South Whidbey has turned to former long-time coach Mark Hodson, who was recruited to save a program in free-fall.

The Falcons, who lost their final seven games last season en route to a 1-8 mark, are taking a break from the 1A/2A Cascade Conference (at least for a season) and will play an independent football schedule this fall.

After opening with fellow 1A schools Coupeville and Chimacum, South Whidbey will face Valley View Secondary, a Canadian team.

Then it’s on to six straight games against 2B schools — Ocosta, Friday Harbor,  La Conner, Darrington, Concrete and Liberty Bell.

Not having to face Cascade Conference foes like ATM, Cedarcrest or King’s will give Hodson and Co. a chance to rebuild a roster which was severely depleted from previous seasons.

Regardless of record (Coupeville was 3-7 last season), the season-opening match-up of Wolves and Falcons is huge.

The winner gets bragging rights to go with possession of The Bucket, an undefeated record (for at least a week), an emotional boost and memories.

As we sit here, a mere 23 days away from this year’s clash, a handful of Coupeville players looked back at their own battles and what they remember:

JR Pendergrass:

My sophomore year, we were beating South Whidbey and we had the ball, running the clock down.

The player across from me on the line kept hitting me every time we took a knee to run the clock, because we were winning, and it took all the power in my being not to plant him in the ground.

Raymond Beiriger:

Junior year, it was my first year playing. And even though I was JV, we all went to watch the varsity play, and watching them fight for something that meant everything to them.

It really inspired me to play my senior year and try harder.

Watching them win The Bucket was amazing and I was super happy.

Uriel Liquidano:

Best memory was last year when South Whidbey was talking all this smack about how they where going to beat us and take The Bucket, that was pretty funny.

Good times, gonna miss playing on a Friday night. #OurBucket.

Jacob Martin:

Breaking a 70-yard TD and scoring the first TD of the game!

Korbin Korzan:

Sophomore year, varsity OLB, we won The Bucket. One of my best high school memories of all time.

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Making his first varsity start Saturday, James Vidoni delivered two huge sacks for a fired-up Wolf defense. (John Fisken photos)

   Making his first varsity start Saturday, James Vidoni delivered two huge sacks for a fired-up Wolf defense. (John Fisken photos)

Senior captains

   Senior captains Uriel Liquidano (63), Jacob Martin (32) and Clay Reilly (2) celebrate bringing The Bucket back to Coupeville.

The even-year magic continues.

Kicking off Jon Atkins first season as head coach in style, the Coupeville High School football team crushed visiting South Whidbey 41-10 Saturday night, claiming The Bucket for the third time in five years.

The opening night non-conference win means the Wolves have already matched last season’s victory total and gives them Island bragging rights for a year.

After winning the showdown with their closest rivals in 2012 and 2014, 2016 offered Coupeville another taste of gridiron magic.

Only this time, it was a total rout.

Using a big-play offense and a bruising defense, the Wolves put the game away early, then emphatically stepped on the Falcons late in the game.

Up 20-0 after one quarter, Coupeville stretched the lead to 34-0 late in the third quarter, and they did it by controlling both sides of the line.

With a vengeance.

Letting their pads do the talking, CHS ripped open huge holes, then unleashed their weapons in all directions.

Setting the tone early was senior running back Jacob Martin, the team’s soft-spoken, rock-solid leader.

For three years he has sacrificed, blocking for others, doing the dirty work.

Saturday night it was his turn, and he answered the bell, big-time.

Taking a hand-off from quarterback Hunter Downes early in the first quarter, Martin exploded through an opening, shook off a would-be tackler and rumbled 39 yards for the first score of the season.

Leaving a trail of Falcons in his dust, the only thing which could have possibly caught up with him was the shouts of one of his former coaches, Charles Clark.

“I see you #32! I see you!!,” the well-liked gridiron guru exclaimed as he pumped both fists in the air from the top row of the bleachers.

Martin wasn’t done, either, later romping to the end zone on a 66-yard second quarter touchdown run in which he ping-ponged his way through the Falcons, then hit another gear and was gone, baby, gone.

In between his scoring strikes, Martin’s QB had his way with the Falcons, as well.

Returning to the field after missing much of his sophomore year with an injury, Downes scored on a one-yard keeper, following right behind Julian Welling’s crushing block, then spun an 18-yard TD pass to birthday boy Hunter Smith.

Up 27-0 coming out of the half, Coupeville offensive coordinator Brad Sherman, returning to coach at the school where he owns the passing records, set up Downes for the kind of play he once pulled off.

Double-pumping a Falcon rusher into the parking lot, Downes fired a BB that dropped right on to the fingertips of a sprinting Smith. 54 yards later the junior receiver was dropping the ball into the referee’s hands after scoring yet another touchdown.

South Whidbey, which hurt itself with a number of penalties, finally got on the board late in the third, but only when Coupeville committed a rare miscue.

A snap on a punt went a good ten feet over Clay Reilly’s head and sailed through the end zone for a safety, netting the Falcons two points and one of their few happy moments of the night.

South Whidbey notched its only touchdown early in the fourth, on a four-yard scramble by young QB Wesly Crain, then tacked on a two-point conversion.

The solace was brief, however, as on the ensuing kick-off, Coupeville opened up a final can of whup-ass.

Smith, who also picked off two passes on his cake day, punctuated things with his third touchdown of the night.

Taking the kick, he drifted slowly for a moment, waited for his blocks to develop, then hit warp speed and pierced a hole on the left side.

One moment he was perfectly still, the next he was but a blur, covering 70+ yards as the Falcons could do little but half-heartedly wave at him as he flew by.

While the frequent scoring was a genuine highlight, Coupeville was just as imposing on defense, with a number of players stepping up to have huge games for defensive coordinator Ryan King.

Senior Uriel Liquidano was a beast unleashed, spending most of his night gently cradling frightened Falcons as he slammed them to the turf after shedding would-be blockers.

Welling spiked a pass into the bleachers to force a turnover, Martin roared up the gut to destroy the suddenly-exposed QB for a sack that netted a loss of ten yards, and James Vidoni left some dents in some Falcon face masks.

The junior defensive end, making his first varsity start, unloaded on South Whidbey, delivering two crushing sacks that brought the Wolf faithful to their feet.

CHS frosh Sean Toomey-Stout, who at 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds gives up five inches and 90 pounds to Vidoni, was a revelation on special teams, blowing up return men like he had been shot out of a cannon.

All in all it was a game Coupeville’s new head coach will treasure.

“Our line played really, really well tonight,” Atkins said. “They sustained their blocks and made big holes for our guys.

“We wanted this to be the start of something big, something that will last a long time. When they look back 10 years from now, we want them to remember a night like tonight.

“Now we just need to keep moving forward.”

As the clock ticked down, Martin sought out his fellow senior captains, Reilly and Liquidano, and the four-year veterans embraced as a trio off to the side.

For a moment, it was just the three of them, and then they pulled Downes and Smith and others into their circle and the celebration really took off.

It may not stop for a very long time.

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   Wolf QB Hunter Downes works on his timing in practice, as CHS Offensive Coordinator Brad Sherman observes. (John Fisken photo)


   The temporary home stands for 2016. Maybe think about bringing a lawn chair. (Scott Losey photo)

Let the pads do the talking.

All the hype, all the side chatter, fades away Saturday night when Coupeville and South Whidbey step on the field to kick off the 2016 high school football season.

It’s opening night, it’s the ultimate Island rivalry game and it’s Cow Town vs. Hippieville, with a trophy, bragging rights and a flawless 1-0 record at stake.

Everything you need to know:


Sat., Sept. 3 at Mickey Clark Field in Coupeville (7 PM kickoff).


The winner takes possession of The Bucket for a year.

The trophy, which features a Wolf logo and colors on one side and a Falcon on the other, came into being in 2008 and was the brainchild of CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, who explains its origins:

Ha ha … well, during a volleyball game at home against SW, one of our senior boys didn’t appreciate the cheering going on by the SW crowd.

So, this young man decided, erroneously and very immaturely, to take matters into his own hands.

He procured a licorice bucket, filled it with water, and proceeded to dump it on the SW crowd, who then chased him out of the gym and very nearly got into a brawl.

Said CHS student was suspended and it almost got really ugly between the two schools.

So, John Patton (former SW AD) and myself decided to turn this negative event into a positive and came up with the idea to make the football game the “Bucket Game” and whomever won that game would keep the bucket for the year.

Thus, the annual Bucket Game began.

The two schools have split the past four years, with Tony Maggio coaching Coupeville to wins in 2012 (18-13 in Langley) and 2014 (35-28 at home.)

South Whidbey scored three fourth-quarter TD’s last year to win 27-14 on its home turf in coach Michael Coe’s first game.

First-year Coupeville coach Jon Atkins makes his debut Saturday, with hopes of making his own splash.


Adults & students without ASB cards: $6
Students with ASB cards, K-5 students: $4
Seniors (62 +): $4
Family Rate (two adults & two K-5 students): $18


Thanks to a levy and a lot of hard work, CHS boasts a pristine new track oval around its football field, and Saturday presents the first opportunity for many to see it up close.

Marinate in the moment, but don’t drag your clodhoppers across the track, OK?

Operate with strip club rules: Look, but don’t touch, or else you may get to meet the bouncers.


The home stands were ripped out prior to the work on the track and the school is going with temporary accommodations for one year.

There will be stands, and they’re still on the same side as usual, but they won’t seat as many as before. Fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets and camp out on the grass.

In 2017 new permanent stands (rumored to be covered ones) will rise up on the other side of the field, in front of the apartments, and home fans will switch sides and be closer to the parking lot.

When that happens, concessions will also be moved and new bathrooms will be available.

What is currently the home side will become the road side, but I repeat to everyone who is getting confused, THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN UNTIL 2017.

And, with that, nothing else is left to say except … let’s get ready to ruuuummmmmbbbblllleeeee!!!

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Bree Daigneault and the Wolf booters aim to take down Klahowya. (John Fisken photos)

   Bree Daigneault and the Wolf booters aim to take down Klahowya. (John Fisken photos)

Joseph Wedekind is back to help the Wolf netters defend their league crown.

Joseph Wedekind is back to help the Wolf netters defend their league crown.

Story-lines as far as the eye can see.

As we begin to wind our way towards the start of fall sports (football practice starts Aug. 17, while the other three CHS teams kick things off Aug. 22), here are a few things to anticipate.

1) History reclaimed — This one is a bit personal, as it’s something I’ve been working on for an eternity, but, when school kicks off, the Coupeville High School gym will look very different than it did when the Class of 2016 graduated.

Or, at least, one wall will.

All the research, all the haggling, all the fundraising will pay off as a new Wall of Fame will rise up around the Sad Coyote painting, celebrating 116 years of Wolf sports.

Did you play on the 1960 CHS baseball squad which won a Northwest League title?

Run for the 1982 girls cross country team which placed 4th at state?

Take the mat for the 2006 competitive cheer squad which brought home a state title?

Now you, your teammates and coaches will have your accomplishments remembered where everyone can see them.

It’s been a long time coming, and with the help of a lot of people, it’s about to be a reality.

2) Oval mania — While it won’t be used until the spring, the new CHS track oval will make its public debut when the Wolves kick off the football season.

After several years of no home track meets because of poor track conditions, Coupeville is back in the game thanks to a levy and a lot of dump truck work.

3) Bucket brigade — The first fall sports event is also the only one which involves a trophy, as the Wolves welcome South Whidbey to the gridiron Sept. 3.

The Saturday night opener (7 PM) may be a non-conference game, but the winner of the rivalry game claims possession of The Bucket for a year and bragging rights for a lot longer.

Coupeville has won in even years recently, claiming ownership in 2012 and 2014. Will 2016 follow suit?

4) New boss, not the same as the old boss — With the departure of Brett and Breanne Smedley, CHS football and volleyball have new coaches in Jon Atkins and Cory Whitmore, respectively.

Both are Oak Harbor teachers who will continue to work up North during the day, then travel to Central Whidbey to lead their teams.

Atkins, the fourth football coach in the last seven years, debuts Sept. 3 (as mentioned above), while Whitmore, the volleyball program’s third leader in the last four years, hits the court Sept. 6 when the Wolves play Mount Vernon Christian.

5) A league of their own — While tennis, volleyball and soccer will continue to play in the four-team 1A Olympic League, football is mixing things up.

Along with Chimacum, Klahowya and two-time defending league champ Port Townsend, they will unite with the Nisqually League (Charles Wright, Vashon Island, Cascade Christian, Bellevue Christian) for the next two years, at least.

The simple break-down?

Coupeville and its counterparts will have a set-in-stone 10-game regular season (no need to scramble and find a foe for a crossover game at the end), with seven league games.

The Wolves also won’t have to play the same teams twice each year anymore.

At the end, the top two or three teams (depending on how allocations break out) advance to the playoffs.

6) History, Part 2? — One of those new football league foes (Vashon) comes to Coupeville Sept. 30.

When they do, the Wolves will be staring across the field at Bryce Hoisington, who put them into the state record books (against their will) last year.

Back then, the game was a non-conference tilt, and Vashon’s running back went off on his home turf for 573 yards and nine touchdowns on 51 carries in a 70-31 Pirate win.

That’s the most yards any runner has gained in a single game in the entire history of Washington state high school football, and it also put Hoisington over the top for the single-season state rushing record of 2,929 yards.

Barring injury or a sudden love of tennis, Vashon’s best player will be back on the gridiron for his senior season, and Coupeville’s defense will be looking for a little payback.

7) Two homecomings in one — Port Townsend hits Whidbey Oct. 7, just as Coupeville celebrates Homecoming.

It’ll be a reunion, as Alex Heilig, a former Wolf assistant coach (and husband of CHS three-sport legend Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby) is the new head coach of the RedHawks.

He’s been gone for two years (one as an assistant in South Whidbey, one as head coach in Granite Falls), but he taught and coached many of the current Wolf players.

8) Defend the crown — Boys tennis knocked off Klahowya to claim the league title last season, the eighth championship in program history and first since 2011.

Wolf coach Ken Stange will be in search of his 12th title at Coupeville (he has four on the boys side, seven on the girls), but he’ll have to scramble to replace his top two singles players, who both graduated.

9) More games that truly count — After two seasons of playing six league games, volleyball and soccer are joining sports like basketball, baseball and softball by jumping to a schedule which has nine league contests.

That means three match-ups apiece against Chimacum, Port Townsend and Klahowya, and less chance of what happened last year, when the Wolves had to play “non-conference” games against conference foes in a bid to fill out their schedules.

More league games also means:

10) Time to clip the Eagles — Of the 10 sports all four Olympic League teams vie in (we don’t count track, as its scoring system exists in its own special world), there are five teams which have never lost a league game in the two-year history of the conference.

Coupeville girls basketball (18-0) towers over everyone, while Klahowya volleyball (12-0), girls soccer (12-0) and boys soccer (12-0) also haven’t been touched.

Rounding out the undefeated is Coupeville girls tennis (11-0).

In eight of the ten sports there have been back-to-back league champs (Coupeville – girls tennis and basketball; Port Townsend – football; Chimacum – boys basketball, softball; Klahowya – boys and girls soccer, volleyball).

The only sports which went different in 2015 than they did in 2014 were boys tennis and baseball, where the Wolves took away titles from their big school rival.

Coupeville won four league titles in 2015, most of any school, after Klahowya nabbed five in 2014.

Now it’s time to keep that momentum going and finally ding the Eagles in volleyball and soccer.

If 2016 is to fully be the year of the Wolf, it all starts there.

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Teo Keilwitz (John Fisken photos)

   Teo Keilwitz and Co. will have one extra day of practice before their season opener. (John Fisken photos)

Hunter Downes

   That gives Julian Welling (left) and Hunter Downes extra time to work on their snaps.

One extra day to fan the rivalry flames.

The biggest football game of the year will be the first one this season for Coupeville High School, but the day it will be played is changing.

The Wolves host Island arch-rival South Whidbey in their first game under new head coach Jon Atkins, when they will bid to reclaim The Bucket after losing it last year in Langley.

The game, originally set for Friday, Sept. 2, is being bumped a day due to a shortage in available game officials.

It’s now set for Saturday, Sept. 3, with kickoff at 7 PM.

Coupeville, which is currently working on installing a new track oval around the football field, offered to make the change for a number of reasons.

“I volunteered us to move out,” said CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith. “I did this for a couple of reasons: it will give our new football staff one more day to prepare, it gives maintenance another day to prep, we will get a great draw no matter what with South Whidbey, so it just makes sense.”

The Falcons upended the Wolves 27-14 in last year’s opener — a game most famous for South Whidbey’s aging scoreboard going dark for more than a quarter.

While both schools are coming off of less-than-spectacular 1-9 seasons (Coupeville beat Chimacum last year, while South Whidbey was win-less after opening night), the rivalry burns bright.

At the heart of the battle is The Bucket, which is a … bucket, which bears Coupeville’s logo and school colors on one side and South Whidbey’s on the other.

The winning school holds on to the trophy until the next year’s game.

The two teams have traded ownership back-and-forth in recent years, with the Wolves winning in 2012 (18-13) and 2014 (35-28).

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