Facing its Whidbey Island rival, the Falcon football team made the big plays at the right times to secure a spot in the playoffs Friday night.
South Whidbey relied on a major rushing game from quarterback Nick French and running backs Cooper Nichols and Kohl Hunter to drop Coupeville 57-33 at the Wolves’ field. Playing in the Battle for the Bucket, a pail painted half in Falcon colors of blue and white and half in Wolves colors of red and black, South Whidbey was successful and came home with the prize.
Playing through a thick fog, South Whidbey’s passing game was able to connect for two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
Coupeville struck first on a 49-yard score by Jake Tumblin in the first quarter. The extra point kick failed, however, and the Wolves led 6-0.
French responded with a 23-yard touchdown run, starting off by sprinting to his right, then coming back across the fog-covered field and scoring on the Wolves’ sideline.
Tumblin ripped another long score of 57 yards in which he went untouched as he strolled down the Wolves’ sideline, delighting the Coupeville crowd. With the extra-point kick, the Wolves led 13-7 in the second quarter.
South Whidbey answered with a long drive from its own 39-yard line. It was set up by two big plays, a 21-yard run and an 18-yard throw by French. From five yards out, sophomore Kohl Hunter broke through the line of scrimmage and gave his team the tying score, then the lead with Nichols’ extra-point kick.
On the next possession, the Falcons were able to force the Wolves to punt after only three plays. French heaved a deep pass to senior receiver Nick Bennett, who gained 59 yards on the catch and run. French followed up with a 10-yard touchdown strike to Hunter. From there, the Falcons never lost the lead.
Coupeville came close to tying the score on its possession, starting with a short field after South Whidbey failed to recover an onside kickoff. The Wolves marched downfield and scored on a 5-yard run by Brett Arnold and an extra-point kick by Joel Walstad to trail 21-20.
In the final minute of the first half, French hit senior receiver Kale Reichersamer as he fell in the end zone with 43 seconds left. South Whidbey’s coaches called for a two-point conversion, which Reichersamer caught from French for a 29-19 lead.
Out of the halftime break, South Whidbey rattled off three more unanswered scores. French punched in two short-yardage touchdowns of four yards and two yards, each followed by a Nichols extra point kick.
After forcing a third straight four-and-out for Coupeville, South Whidbey took possession on its own 8-yard line. Nichols took a quick pitch from French behind the line of scrimmage, sprinted down the sideline, shook off one tackle near midfield and rumbled for a 92-yard touchdown score.
Coupeville mustered two more scores, a 54-yard run by Lathom Kelly and a 1-yard run by Tumblin, which were broken up by a 3-yard rushing score by Falcon junior Deven Damerau.
South Whidbey (3-2 Cascade Conference, 6-2 overall) faces Sultan on the road this week. The match could determine the conference’s third-place team as Sultan and South Whidbey are tied with 3-2 league records.
The Falcons are likely to face the third-seeded team from the Northwest Conference in the 1A District 1 playoffs. At the date of publication, South Whidbey would face Meridian (2-1 Northwest Conference, 3-3 overall).