Fall Sports Preview: Coupeville football

Wolves set to unleash ground game.

“Asked to describe his team a few days into late-summer practice, Coupeville High School head football coach Ron Bagby doesn’t hesitate. Young, good speed and good strength, Bagby says. And I’m confident we’ve got some young kids who are going to play.Bagby’s confidence about starting young players stems from the fact he needs to. The Wolves lost a lot of seniors last year, including five starters on the offensive line.But if the team lost some key players, it also retained some vital skilled positions and gained a fresh crop of promising athletes.Starting with the veterans, Noah Roehl is back as quarterback, bringing experience, smarts and leadership to the offense. So is senior running back Ian Barron, whose strength, speed and toughness helped him gain 600 yards in just four games last year before being sidelined for the season with a broken ankle. We’ll have a good running game this year, Bagby notes.Sophomore Daniel McDonald will step into a running back slot this year and junior Mike Smart will round out the backfield at fullback.Receiver duties will fall into hands of juniors Matt Helm and Geoff Hageman. In addition, Bagby plans to work Dustin VanVelkenburg, a player Bagby says, Can just flat run and catch, into the offensive attack.This early in the season, the offensive line still has some question marks over the Os, but Bagby thinks he’s found some answers.One is senior Zac Swankie, switched over from fullback to tackle this year. Bagby said he’s counting on Swankie’s toughness and willingness to hit to help move the ball.Tanner Petry will line up as guard, next to center Jim Meek, and sophomore Drew Stephenson will occupy the other tackle position.Beyond that, Bagby is eyeing some rookies to help the Wolves this year.Two strong prospects are related to each other.Recent transfers, twins Schuyler and Austin Porter, are destined for the starting lineup, Bagby said.They’re two of the toughest kids we have, he said. They’re solid, tough, hard-working kids and man, can they hit. They need to be on the playing field. Another is Chris Wynkoop, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound junior Bagby says will play as offensive and defensive tackle.Bagby says the Coupeville matches up well against the other teams in the Northwest A League.The league will be a little more even this year, he said. There’s not a weak team but there’s not really a powerhouse either. In order to improve last year’s 4-5 record, however, Bagby said his players will have to correct some mistakes that plagued the Wolves last year.We had way too many turnovers, he said. We also gave up some big plays on defense. Situations where we’d have a team third-and-long and let them out of the hole. That cost us four touchdowns against Orcas in the first half last year. The Wolves will get a chance to correct those mistakes this year with a team both experienced and young, polished and potentially loaded.And a few days into practice, Bagby sees a lot of potential.Every day it’s better and better, he says of his team. Maybe better than last year. “