Falcons run to win in Battle for the Bucket

The Battle for The Bucket is playing out in cycles.


Special to the News-Times

Special to the News-Times

The Battle for The Bucket is playing out in cycles.

The annual scrap for high school football dominance between Coupeville and South Whidbey went to the Wolves four times in six seasons.

But now, after reeling off 41 unanswered points Friday night on their home turf in Langley, the Falcons have won five straight over a six-year span.

The two schools didn’t play in 2020, as the pandemic limited teams to playing games against league foes.

This year’s clash, which filled the stands on both sides of the field, started as a nailbiter, stayed that way until halftime, then became very one-sided in the second half, before Coupeville trimmed the deficit with two touchdowns in the final moments.

It wasn’t enough to faze South Whidbey however, as the 1A Falcons evened their early season record at 1-1 with a 48-28 win over the 2B Wolves, who sit at 0-2 after twice playing above their weight class.

Coupeville is coming off its first trip to the state playoffs in three decades-plus, and second-year head coach Bennett Richter had his team rockin’ in the early going.

South Whidbey actually got on the scoreboard first, forcing a punt, then driving down the field, carving up chunks of yardage with a run-powered offense.

But Coupeville, raining down pain from the heavens with senior quarterback Logan Downes slicing and dicing the Falcon secondary, rallied to regain the lead with back-to-back scores.

The first was setup by a long kickoff return from Aiden O’Neill and a series of power rumbles through the line by Wolf running back Johnny Porter.

With South Whidbey’s defensive players on their heels, Downes tossed a 20-yard scoring strike to Hunter Bronec with three minutes to play in the first quarter, before repeating the feat right at the end of the period.

The second TD lob settled into the hands of Jack Porter and came on the heels of the CHS defense stuffing the Falcons on a fourth-and-two.

Tack on a pair of PATs from kicker Chase Anderson, and the Wolves exited the first quarter up 14-7 and looking like they were in control.

Then the Coupeville offense hit a wall, not scoring again until the final two minutes of the game.

South Whidbey took advantage, slowly at first, then in much quicker fashion.

The Falcons trimmed the deficit to 14-13 on a short scoring run, but missed the PAT after penalties pushed their kicker back from his desired launching point.

It turned out not to matter, though, as South Whidbey freshman Bryson Taylor picked off a pass while falling backwards on Coupeville’s next offensive play, giving his team a chance to seize control.

And the Falcons did, driving 72 yards, mixing short swing passes with power runs up the middle of the field.

An eight-yard plunge produced a touchdown, and a two-point conversion run staked South Whidbey to a 21-14 lead, an advantage it would never relinquish.

The two teams traded defensive stands as the halftime break approached, with O’Neill picking off a pass to give the Wolves a final shot at knotting the score.

Downes hit Bronec on a pair of sweet passes but was tripped up on the final play of the quarter, sprawling face-first to the turf as the ball fell short of his intended target.

Still, the game was a one-score affair at the midway point, seemingly setting up Coupeville’s second nailbiter in as many weeks.

But, instead of a repeat of its opener with Klahowya, when the game was decided on the very final play, the trek to Langley fell apart in horrifying fashion.

South Whidbey tacked on three touchdowns in the third quarter, with a missed PAT (after another Falcon penalty) just a slight ding as a 21-14 lead stretched out to 41-14.

Another scramble to the end zone early in the fourth capped a run of six straight touchdowns for Luke Hodson’s squad, assuring the home fans of driving home happy.

Falcon junior quarterback Cody Redford, living up to the proud tradition set by predecessors like Kody Newman and Parker Collins, was a ball of fire with the pigskin in his hands, racking up four rushing touchdowns.

Senior Maddox Smith-Heacox and junior Connor Bartel also busted through the Coupeville defense for a score, as South Whidbey garnered six of its seven TDs via the ground game.

The one time the Falcons found paydirt on a pass it didn’t come off of the fingertips of Redford, but instead was launched by that fab frosh we previously mentioned, Bryson Taylor.

Lobbing a heave through a thicket of arms, the young running back connected with senior receiver Cole Kelly-Stine, who plucked the ball from the heavens as he crashed through the right corner of the end zone.

To their credit, the Wolves fought until the end, with William Davidson erupting through the line to force a fumble and Coupeville scoring twice in a 90-second span at the very end of the night.

Downes flung a 21-yard TD to fellow senior Peyton Caveness, before connecting with sure-handed sophomore Malachi Somes, who scampered in from 12 yards out for his first varsity touchdown.

Coupeville’s QB has thrown for six touchdowns across the first two games, with six different Wolf receivers catching one of his scoring missiles.

Logan Downes has racked up 25 TD passes (including two as a sophomore and 17 as a junior) as he chases older brother Hunter, who holds the school career record with 35.

Coupeville junior receiver Hunter Bronec rumbles for the end zone. (Photo by John Fisken)

Coupeville junior receiver Hunter Bronec rumbles for the end zone. (Photo by John Fisken)

Coupeville players stop a Falcon. (Photo by John Fisken)

Coupeville players stop a Falcon. (Photo by John Fisken)