Fall prep preview: Coupeville football

Joel Walstad, Coupeville’s  new quarterback, throws a pass in last Friday’s jamboree at La Conner. - Photo by Jim Waller/Whdibey News-Times
Joel Walstad, Coupeville’s new quarterback, throws a pass in last Friday’s jamboree at La Conner.
— image credit: Photo by Jim Waller/Whdibey News-Times

It’s a recipe for success.

The Coupeville High School football team is coming off its best season in eight years, returns key players in key positions and has a favorable schedule.

Blend that with the Wolves foray into the Olympic League, which will pit Coupeville against schools similar in size, and the result is likely to be satisfying.

Coupeville overcame injuries to win four of nine games last fall, only the second time since 2005 the Wolves have put that many checks in the win column.

Nine lettermen return, including three capable runners/receivers and five athletic, veteran linemen.

The club’s top rusher last year, Jake Tumblin, graduated, but three of the next four in yardage are back, led by senior Josh Bayne.

Bayne ran for 346 yards in 54 carries, posting 6.41 yards per carry.

He displayed what he could do as the featured back, ripping Sultan for 204 yards and three touchdowns, when Tumblin was injured.

Junior Wiley Hesselgrave, who split time between wingback and wide receiver, rushed for 140 yards on 27 carries for an average of 5.2 yards per run.

Junior Lathom Kelley finished with 84 yards on 13 rushes, a 6.5 average.

In addition, Bayne and Hesselgrave were the top receivers in 2013. Bayne snagged 11 catches for 144 yards; Hesselgrave grabbed 13 for 109.

Tumblin also led the defense, but four of the next six leaders in tackles return.

Bayne collected 66 tackles and five interceptions; Hesselgrave added 52 tackles, two sacks and an interception; Kelley had 51 tackles and Aaron Wright 30.

Wright is one of the five returning linemen, a group head coach Tony Maggio labeled “fast and experienced.”

Wright will be joined up front by Oscar Liquidano, Carson Risner, Matt Shank and Isaac Vargas.

The Wolves also return experience on their special teams. Punter/kicker Joel Walstad is back, and Bayne and Hesselgrave were the top return men last season.

One spot Coupeville will break in a new starter is at quarterback, where Walstad takes over.

Among the key newcomers, according to Maggio, are sophomore lineman Dominic Dausey and the Smith brothers, junior C.J. and freshman Hunter. Both play quarterback and defensive back.

“We should be competitive again,” Maggio said, “and we are excited to compete in our new league.”

Depth is Maggio’s biggest concern: “Although our numbers are small, if we stay healthy we could do some great things.”

The team’s health took a hit when Risner, who missed much of last year with a knee injury, was re-injured and may miss a few games.

Maggio sees Port Townsend as the biggest threat to win the division.

“They had a great group of young kids last year,” he said. The Redhawks defeated the Wolves 41-0 in a nonleague game in 2013.

Coupeville and Port Townsend will join Chimacum and Klahowya of Silverdale in the Olympic League’s new four-team, 1A division.

Maggio called the new alignment a “great fit for our school.”

The Wolves will play each divisional opponent twice and have nonleague games with 1A South Whidbey (5-5 last year), 2A Sequim (0-10) and 2B Concrete (8-2).

Coupeville will begin the year by facing their top rival, South Whidbey, at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, at Mickey Clark Field.

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