Posts Tagged ‘Willie Smith’

   Jake Pease and the rest of Coupeville’s underclassmen will jump to a new league next school year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change is in the air.

After a very-successful four-year run in the 1A Olympic League, in terms of wins, titles and confidence restored, Coupeville High School is swapping leagues.

Now the question is which direction CHS goes in — down to 2B, where it thrived for many years, or to a new 1A league formed out of the smoldering ruins of its former home in the Cascade Conference.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Wednesday the school would leave the Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year and outlined the wide-open future.

In his words:

Coupeville has decided to leave the Olympic League (high school) and North Olympic League (middle school) for the following reasons:

**Out of class time for students: we are very often leaving the school at 11:00-12:00 and not returning until 9:30 at night.

During district tournaments the return times are often much later, as the majority of the tournaments are in the Tacoma area (and this year fast-pitch will be traveling to Lacey to play their tourney) requiring us to take the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry at a much later time.

**Cost: we were over our transportation budget by over $15,000 last year due to the use of the ferry for every away league game in HS, every away game in MS, many non-league away games with the 2A’s of the Olympic League, travel to/from district events in Tacoma, and staying overnight for district tournaments that were two-day tourneys that played on back-to-back days.

**Scheduling: we have to schedule games around the PT/Keystone ferry schedule. Neither the ferry or reservation system works as consistently as we need and we had multiple re-schedules as well as cancellations due to ferry-related issues.

In addition, the 1A’s were planning on reducing the number of league games we played each from three to two, which would result in trying to find an inordinate amount of non-league games for each season.

As an example: in a 20-game season (basketball, baseball, fast-pitch) we would only have 6/20 league games and trying to find 14 non-league games to fill the schedule.

The resulting schedule would not be consistent in days we play, number of games per week, and more importantly, in meaningful league games.

So what’s our path?

We are at the end of the first two years of the WIAA four-year cycle, which means we can apply for two things: re-classification or joining another league; we are doing both.

Our current grades 9-11 enrollment is below the 2B cutoff and we are in process of appealing to the WIAA to move into the 2B classification.

We will not find out their decision until January 28th.

If approved, we would then apply to join the Northwest 2B League (Concrete, Darrington, La Conner, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island).

We don’t know what the WIAA will consider as significant change in enrollment, as this is the first time the WIAA has ever had to render these decisions.

Neither myself or WIAA representatives can really speak to whether we have a legitimate chance of winning the appeal but we are appealing.

We have had a long history of playing all of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

We have also inquired and have begun the process of looking into joining the newly formed 1A North Sound Conference, which currently consists of Sultan, South Whidbey, Granite Falls (appealing to drop from 2A to 1A), King’s, and Cedar Park Christian.

We have had a long history of playing the majority of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

It’s a 1A only league, which we have not been in for over 10 years.

Nothing, other than exiting the Olympic League at the conclusion of this year, is set, and even that needs approval from District 3, District 1, and the WIAA, which should happen, but is not always 100%.

There are a lot of documentation, hearings, and legwork that is currently being done, and will continue to be done before anything firm happens.

I would like to add that I have nothing but positive things to say about the Olympic League and its Athletic Directors.

They brought us in and re-worked an entire league in order to make it happen for Coupeville at a time when we desperately needed a change.

It helped our programs get healthy again, kids turning out, and we have had a lot of successes in the Olympic League.

But, and very importantly, it comes down to what is best for our schools and our kids.

The amount of time and school our kids miss coupled with the reality of the costs has really made us (coaches, administration) look at where we were at and a change was something that needed to occur.

Prior to bringing in four 1A schools in 2014 — Coupeville, Klahowya, Port Townsend and Chimacum — the Olympic League was a 2A conference.

In the three-plus seasons of the 1A division, Coupeville has won 11 league titles and claimed 153 varsity wins against its three 1A foes.

Girls basketball and tennis, which have yet to lose a league contest, each own three titles. Volleyball (2), boys tennis (2) and baseball (1) also have added to the school’s Wall of Honor.

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   Day one of putting together the 1,000 pieces that comprise the new CHS grandstands, and the question on everyone’s mind is … “What do you mean you lost the instructions?!?!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“No, no, it looks fine that way.”

   Later, when everything looks all fancy, people will forget about the lowly, but important piece which anchors everything. I shall call it … Thaddeus.

“I’m just saying, I could have lifted that without any machinery. No, really…”




And we’re .02% done.

It’s like a really big Ikea project.

The two-year wait for the new Coupeville High School football/soccer/track grandstands to arrive is over.

Now we just wait for all 10 million pieces to be put together.

Will the new stands debut during one of the three remaining Wolf home football games?

Or, more likely, will butts hit the seats for the first time this spring?

Only time will tell.

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   While we wait for a new grandstand to arrive, CHS football fans should expect to sit as close together as the Wolves are in this pic. (John Fisken photo)

Patience is a virtue.

While it’s true Coupeville High School will have a new football grandstand at some point in the near future, it won’t be in place for the home opener against La Conner this Friday.

And that means fans are going to be cozy for a bit.

Once in place, the new grandstand will sit in front of the apartments on what was previously the visitors side of the field.

The ground has been prepared, concrete supports have been laid, but thanks to delays by the grandstand manufacturer, the local guys are left twiddling their thumbs.

With everything in mid-construction, that side of the field will be roped off Friday and all fans, Coupeville and non-Coupeville, get to congregate together on the far side of the field.

If you attended a game last year, you know seating on that side of the field is limited.

When the old grandstand and (bee-infested, but deeply-missed) press box were ripped out prior to the 2016 football season, two smaller sections of bleachers were moved in to form what will one day officially be the visitors stands.

For now, those bleachers and the surrounding grass and track will provide one dumping ground for home and road fans alike.

So, either arrive early (kickoff is 7 PM), bring a lawn chair or get used to standing.

One thing that could help is Coupeville’s gridiron schedule begins with four of the first six games on the road.

After facing La Conner, the Wolves welcome Charles Wright Academy to town Sept. 22, then don’t play at home again until mid-Oct.

If we’re lucky, that shiny new grandstand will be in place in time for Coupeville’s late-season three-game home-stand (Oct. 13 vs Bellevue Christian, Oct. 20 vs. Klahowya, Oct. 27 vs. Chimacum).

Hey, miracles can happen.

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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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Nuff said.

Well, I guess we could just call it a vacation.

I know, I know, I haven’t even been gone long enough to grow a luxurious “retirement” beard like David Letterman.

But, while my 10-day sabbatical only allowed me enough time to seed the facial growth, it did give me ample opportunity to reflect on life itself.

I watched some movies — quality stuff like “Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman” and “Bear Force One” — talked to my landlord’s feral cats, avoided looking for a “real” job and scrolled back through most of the history of Coupeville Sports.

As I did so, a couple of things became clearer.

No one delivers a solid-gold quote like Willie Smith and I used to really enjoy giving South Whidbey verbal wedgies.

Oh, the olden days…

Also, and this probably matters more — there are parts of my life which fuel the depression I fight on an on-again, off-again basis.

Things I need to work on, deal with or walk away from.

Writing is not one of those things.

In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Writing is the one thing in my life which makes me soar. That gives me an outlet.

As I went back through Coupeville Sports — 5,141 articles stretching over the past four years and eight months — I was reminded of what a unique opportunity I have been given with this blog.

I have a chance to tell the world a multitude of stories.

To give folks from rural Pennsylvania to big city Brazil and everywhere in between a window into the wonder that takes place every day on a prairie in the middle of a rock stuck out here in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Along the way I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever style I want.

How can I throw that away?

I can’t.

To everyone who talked to me over the past 10 days, in public or private, your support has meant, and will continue to mean, a lot.

To those who have purchased ads or made donations in the past (or those who might now do so), you are the lifeblood of Coupeville Sports.

But so are the moms who leave brownies in my mailbox or the people who share my stories on Facebook or the teen titan who autographs my scorecard after blasting a game-winning double off a two-time league MVP.

Lookin’ at you, Jae LeVine. That’s gonna be worth money some day soon.

We all need a purpose in life. Something to tell the feral cats about as they try and ignore you and concentrate on the tuna you’re bribing them with.

The last 10 days have given me a chance to reflect, to reconsider, to relight the fire.

I’m a writer.

Today, tomorrow, always.

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