After winning only five games over the past three seasons, Coupeville is primed for a breakout season, according to head coach Tony Maggio.
Maggio’s optimism is buoyed by a boatload of returning talent, including 14 letter winners.
“I’ll take our first 11 against anybody,” Maggio said.
Among the group are two of the area’s top players, senior lineman Nick Streubel and senior back Jake Tumblin.
Streubel, a 6-4, 280-pound bulldozer, is receiving interest from several Division I schools (particularly Wyoming) and “every DII school you can imagine,” Maggio said.
Tumblin is being heavily recruited among the DII ranks, including Central Washington and South Dakota School of the Mines, Maggio said.
They will be joined by a talented group of returning lettermen: Brett Arnold, Jared Dickson, Joey Edwards, Ben Haight, Gunnar Langvold, Wade Schaef, Josh Bayne, Oscar Liquidano, Carson Risner, Aaron Wright, Wiley Hesselgrave and Lathom Kelley.
Senior Langvold and junior Bayne split time at quarterback last fall and are fighting it out for the starting spot this year.
Langvold threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns in 2012; Bayne tossed for 341 and four scores.
If Langvold gets the nod, Bayne will most likely start at one of the wingback slots after rushing for 249 yards last fall with a 6.73 yards per carry average.
Arnold returns as the starting fullback; he rushed for 565 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Tumblin, however, is the key to the Wolves’ run-heavy attack out of the Wing-T. Although he missed a game last year, he still racked up 787 yards at nearly seven yards per carry. He also had a team-leading 16 catches for 350 yards and a bushel of return yards and finished with over 1,500 all-purpose yards.
Maggio has a rush-first philosophy and last year the Wolves ran for over 2,200 yards; a total he would be happy to repeat.
That should happen behind a veteran line of Streubel, Risner, Haight, Liquidano and Wright.
Coupeville, however, completed only 39 percent of its passes, and that has to improve, Maggio said.
He doesn’t want to throw more, just be more efficient.
To become more effective through the air, Maggio added Orson Christensen, a 50-year coaching veteran, to his staff.
Christensen, who coached college football for 26 years, has cleaned up the quarterbacks’ throwing technique, added more classroom work and changed the route combinations.
A 60 percent completion rate is this year’s goal, according to Maggio.
The defense is undergoing a change as well. New defensive coach Brett Smedley is installing a 3-5-3 alignment to get the most athletic kids on the field.
Depth is an issue, once again, for Coupeville, which fields fewer than 40 players. Maggio said as long as the Wolves stay healthy, they will be okay.
Coupeville is in the second year of a revised football schedule. Because it is the smallest school in enrollment in the Cascade Conference, Coupeville plays only a portion of a league schedule, meeting the smallest 2A schools in the conference and filling in the gaps with nonleague games with other 1A schools.
Maggio is expecting big things: “We have had a great camp season, our scrimmages have been strong, we have a talented group of seniors. We should be able to compete with anyone.”
The Wolves start the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, when Bellevue Christian visits.