Two years ago, Kohl Hunter was told he’d never play football again. On Friday night, the senior captain will lead South Whidbey’s offense against island rival Coupeville at Waterman’s Field.
How Hunter went from missing his entire junior season due to back injuries to becoming the staple of the Falcons’ offense is a testament of who he is as a person and as a football player.
“The foundation of what we do offensively is running the football, and I don’t know if I could have asked for a better kid in that position because of what he brings to our team in toughness, physicality, leadership and strength,” said first-year head coach Michael Coe. “All of those things, you roll them all into one and you’ve got Kohl Hunter. It’s a big confidence booster for me going into every Friday night that we have him.”
Hunter was forced to watch from a distance last season as the Falcons won only two games under the one-year-and-done former head coach Chris Tormey. To say Hunter is eager to don his pads and play under the lights is an understatement.
“It’s Coupeville, they’re our island rival,” Hunter said. “We’re ready to rock and roll. I’m just ready to kill them this year.”
Coe expects Hunter to get anywhere from 15 carries a game to 25 or 30 in the Falcons’ offense, which is a variation of the spread offense. The 5 foot, 8-inch, 195-pound running back and linebacker is ready for the workload.
“I’m really happy to be a playmaker and help the team in any way that I can,” Hunter said. “I put as much effort I could into getting healthy and being out here. I’m just really blessed to be out here and be able to play with the guys.”
Hunter will receive the handoffs from senior quarterback and team captain Charlie Patterson, who spent his sophomore and junior seasons as a wide receiver but has played quarterback all his life.
The Falcons’ offense won’t be predicated on the pass, nor will it ask Patterson to make complicated reads. Rather, simplicity will be key. Patterson will look to make quick decisions and get the ball out to his receivers Connor Antich and Austin Serba.
“The scheme is simple. It’s something we can all handle,” Patterson said. “The belief system is just working on beating your man one-on-one. So it’s just win our individual battles, and the team will win the whole battle.”
In other words, Patterson won’t put up Peyton Manning-like numbers. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t get a relative level of production and leadership from him.
“He’s poised, he’s a senior, he’s got a great head on his shoulders, he understands what I’m asking. He asks all the right questions, and he knows where guys are supposed to be,” Coe said. “He’ll challenge guys and that’s what you want from a leader.”
The Falcons will utilize the 4-2-5 on defense, a system which enables players to respond quicker and think less.
Coe, who admits he walks the line between arrogance and confidence, didn’t shy away from making his prediction for the outcome of the game.
“We’ll win the game. You can put that in the paper,” Coe said. “Barring a massive trainwreck.”
“I could be opening myself up for some criticism saying this, but you’ll kind of learn this about me,” he added. “It’s confidence under control. That’s why you coach, right? You should expect to win every week. That’s what I expect from us every week.”
Antich and Chase Bartlett will join Hunter and Patterson as team captains in the pre-game coin toss.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.