Sports

Cougs better than their records

Seventh grade runningback Hunter Hawkins tests the Lake Stevens Middle School defense as he runs the ball early in the second half of Tuesday
Seventh grade runningback Hunter Hawkins tests the Lake Stevens Middle School defense as he runs the ball early in the second half of Tuesday's season.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

While there may not have been a whole lot of victories happening on the Langley Middle School football field this fall, the season was better than it looked.

With about 40 players on the field between the seventh and eighth grade teams, the Cougars were a bit thin on numbers but tough in games. The eighth grade team finished the season with a 2-4 record, while the seventh graders were 0-6.

But if close counted, the eighth graders could have been undefeated. Bill Patterson, the team's coach, said just a few mistakes and inopportune penalties kept his players from having the best record in the conference. The team's last game of the season, a 24-8 loss to Lake Stevens, was decided on a blocked Falcon punt and big yardage losses due to penalties. Earlier in the season, the team lost one of its closest games 20-14 to Monroe when a penalty moved the team back from the opposing team's one-yard line.

Not willing to single out any individual performances this season, Patterson said his team put a good deal of energy into game focus and passing. Speed was the team's biggest attribute, he said, and worked to great effect in a 25-6 win over Gateway Middle School and a 12-0 win over Valley View Middle School.

Of the seventh graders, coach Ryan Raulerson said the season was not what it seemed.

"We were more competitive than our record indicated this year," he said.

There were definite high points in the team's games. Quarterback Taylor Bjork and receiver Aaron Mannie connected for three 50-plus yard touchdowns over the six games as the Cougars put their energies into one of the more active passing games in the conference. James Souza was also a regular target for Bjork.

Running the ball were Parker Barnett, Hunter Hawkins and Levi Sawyers. Raulerson said though these three were not particularly large players, their speed made them punishing players when they hit.

On defense, Raulerson said gutsy performances by a lightweight but strong batch of players kept games close. Bjork, Mannie, Patrick McClean and Kyle Hoch filled the linebacker slots and tracked down opposing ball carriers.

In their last game of the season, a home contest against Lake Stevens, the Cougars lost 24-12, but not before scoring touchdowns in both halves of play.

Both Raulerson and Patterson said their players will eventually become part of a South Whidbey High School football program they believe is headed for winning seasons in the future.

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