Sports

WHIDBEY’S BIG ‘BLUE WALL’ NOTCHES SHUT-OUT

Running back Levi Sawyers flips over the defense during Friday’s 39-0 rout of Coupeville. The team travels to Sultan Oct. 12 and Falcon coach Mark Hodson said the team’s next goal is to win two of the final three games to obtain home field advantage in the playoffs. - David Welton photo
Running back Levi Sawyers flips over the defense during Friday’s 39-0 rout of Coupeville. The team travels to Sultan Oct. 12 and Falcon coach Mark Hodson said the team’s next goal is to win two of the final three games to obtain home field advantage in the playoffs.
— image credit: David Welton photo

Best start in 46 years; defense is key

LANGLEY — Few things in life are perfect.

But Friday night at Waterman Field was about as perfect as it gets if you’re a Falcon football fan.

The South Whidbey football team, now 6-0, whomped the Coupeville Wolves 39-0. That means 2007 is a winning season regardless of what happens next.

Many were ready to see the big homecoming win. More than 1,000 fans jammed Waterman Field — the largest crowd ever, school officials said. One-half hour after kickoff there was still a line waiting to enter.

South Whidbey demonstrated its mastery of the balanced attack early on. On the first drive, Falcon quarterback Kyle Hoch handed off to running back Levi Sawyers, then lofted short passes to Hunter Hawkins and Luke Hodson for first-down gains.

Coupeville was centering their efforts on Sawyers, but they didn’t have the defensive power needed to stop the strong senior. Sawyers scored on a 9-yard run with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter. TJ Russell’s point after made it 7-0.

Meanwhile, the Blue Wall defense kept Coupeville from mounting much of an attack until just before the first quarter ended.

Facing a 4-and-1 on their 11-yard line with 1:43 left, the Wolves were stopped in their tracks by a solid, committed defense.

Defensive linebacker Britton set the tone for the entire night, sacking the Wolf quarterback for a 5-yard loss on the second defensive play.

“I felt I owned that first series,” Britton said.

“I had four tackles and a sack; I wanted those guys to know it was going to be a long night for them,” he said.

Sawyers added another six points on the board before the half on a 10-yard sprint to the left. TJ Russell’s kick was tipped and the score was 13-0.

Despite the final score, the contest was competitive in the first two quarters.

“Coupeville played us tough the first half,” Falcons defensive coordinator Damian Greene said.

At the break, the team knew Coupeville wasn’t through, however.

“We didn’t want to take them for granted,” Falcon tight end Parker Barnett said. “No game is guaranteed until it’s over.”

And yet, sometimes there is a moment that shines through, as clear as crystal. On this night, that moment came from Barnett.

On their first offensive drive, Hoch threw a short bench route to Barnett hoping for a few yards.

“The play isn’t meant for long yardage,” Barnett explained.

“I caught it in the flats. There were two defenders that Nick (Tenuta) and Hunter (Hawkins) blocked and then there was nothing but daylight down the sidelines.”

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Barnett thundered 65 yards to the end zone for six points as players, coaches and fans went ballistic with surprise and huge cheers.

Watching quietly was his father, John Barnett.

“I’ve been waiting for a moment like this all year,” he said over the noise of the crowd.

The big play was the turning point and the Wolves never recovered.

As the contest continued, Hoch kept Coupeville off guard, searching for a receiver or an open lane for the run. If neither existed, he’d smartly exit stage left to the sidelines.

With 5:11 in the third, Sawyers tipped a Wolf pass and Tenuta intercepted.

“Levi and I keyed in on their tight end all night,” Tenuta said. “Levi got it and it fell in my hands. When I realized I wasn’t down, I ran for seven yards.”

Switching to offense without a blink, Sawyers cashed in on the interception with a 14-yard run for another TD and the score was 25-0.

Hoch intercepted an errant pass as the fourth began, and Hunter Hawkins ran a short three yards for another Falcons TD. Coupeville tried a comeback, Jon Poolman stopped it with the night’s third interception and Sawyers capped the last drive for a 39-0 final score.

Hoch said that with eight minutes left, he saw the score and told teammates in the huddle they were making school history.

South Whidbey center Patrick McLean said the Wolves played hard but South Whidbey was tenacious.

“We just wanted it more,” McLean said.

The win guaranteed the first winning season in 28 years, and the first 6-0 record in 46 years.

“The games are going to get tougher from now on,” Hoch said. “We’ll just play our own game and let the rest take care of itself.”

Hoch threw 10 passes on 12 tries for 117 yards. Sawyers ran 160 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns. Hawkins had three catches for 45 yards and ran for 38 more.

Barnett had one catch for 65 yards and one touchdown.

David Monell led the Falcons with six tackles and a sack, and Britton was not far behind with four tackles and two sacks.

Hoch, Tenuta and Poolman each had an interception — Coupeville managed just 4-of-12 attempts in the air on the night.

The Falcons are now rated first in defense in the league and fourth in the state, defensive coordinator Greene said.

“And that’s based on five, not six, games,” he added.

On Oct. 12 the team travels to Sultan.

ATM remains undefeated, and will play here Oct. 26.

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