Football linemen rarely get the glory, but the petrol that runs the Coupeville High School football engine this fall will be the big boys up front.
“Our offensive and defensive lines are very good,” first-year coach Tony Maggio said.
Anchoring the line is Maggio’s senior son, Anthony, a second-team, all-league choice last year. He will be joined by honorable mention returnees senior Caleb Valko and junior Nick Streubel.
The trio lead a large group of returning lettermen: seniors Danny Savalza, Kole Kellison, Riley Boyd and Serigio Guerro; juniors Wade Schaef, Gunnar Langvold, Brett Arnold, Ben Haight, Nick Weatherford, Bryce Fleming and Jared Dickson; and sophomores Joel Walstad, Korbin Korzan, Miguel Rodriguez, Josh Bayne, Carson Riser, Aaron Wright and Matthew Hampton.
The group will have to make up for the loss of a handful of graduates, including dynamic offensive weapon Mitch Pelroy and defensive stalwart Dalton Engle.
Coach Maggio said the toughest part will be replacing the pair’s leadership. On the field, he will look to Tumblin to pick up some of the slack.
Tumblin will move from quarterback to wing to better “utilize his speed,” Maggio said.
Langvold and Korzan are battling for the starting quarterback spot, Arnold and Savalza will handle fullback and Fleming, Bayne and Dickson are in mix with Tumblin to play wing.
Key newcomers, according to Maggio, are senior Paul Schmakeit (tight end) and juniors Alex Schmakeit (guard), Joey Edwards (center, linebacker), Kyle Kendall (wing) and Raymond Beiriger (wide out).
Maggio said he also has “a bunch of talented freshmen.”
Maggio served as the team’s line coach until taking over this year for Jay Silver, who left for personal reasons after two seasons and now leads Mount Vernon. With the switch in coaches comes a switch in offense from the spread to the wing.
Maggio said, “Last year we wanted to run a play every seven seconds, this year we will take our time and use the clock.”
Coupeville will run a more balanced attack, Maggio said, in reference to last year’s pass-oriented offense.
Line play isn’t the team’s only strength. “Team speed is better overall than last season,” Maggio said. “We are a stronger team as the kids were in the weight room all year and all summer. All of our kids can catch the ball well and run good routes.”
The team is young (only six seniors) and depth is a concern, according to Maggio.
Another noticeable change is in the Wolves’ schedule. Coupeville, the smallest school by far in enrollment in the Cascade Conference, will no longer play the larger schools from the league, skipping 2A Cedarcrest, Lakewood and powerhouse Archbishop Murphy.
This should help Coupeville be more competitive and protect it physically. The Wolves won only one conference game the past two years and were 3-16 overall. The pain went beyond the scoreboard; last year half of the 30-man squad ended the year on the injury list.
“I expect that we will compete in every game,” Maggio said, “and by compete I mean these kids will have the chance to win every game in the fourth quarter. I expect our coaches to put these kids in the right positions to be successful, and give them the tools needed to put together some wins.”
Coupeville started the season at Bellevue Christian Thursday, Aug. 30, and it hosts Port Townsend at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7.