South Whidbey’s football team arrived in Coupeville Saturday night in possession of the coveted “Bucket.” They left without it.
The Falcons lost to the Wolves 41-10 in the season opener. The Wolves scored three touchdowns in the first quarter while holding the Falcons’ offense at bay for most of the game. Falcon sophomore quarterback Wesley Crain scored South Whidbey’s only touchdown of the night on a 3-yard rush while trailing 34-2 in the fourth quarter. Inexperience on the roster and a rough first quarter combined to doom the Falcons in its annual island-rivalry game.
South Whidbey had been in possession of The Bucket, a trophy painted blue and red that goes to the winning team, since beating the Wolves 27-14 in 2015.
“This is a learning experience and we’ll get there,” said second-year head coach Michael Coe. “We’re very, very, very young and very inexperienced. Across the board, we’re very young. And a lot of the guys who are older haven’t played before.”
Falcon senior defensive back and receiver Connor Antich said the team was also taken off-guard by the high-flying Wolves in the first quarter.
“I think overall we just came out and had a bad first quarter and it put us in a deep hole,” Antich said. “It’s hard to come back from.”
Just three minutes into the game, Wolves senior running back Jacob Martin broke past the Falcons defense and ran 39 yards down the center of the field for a touchdown. Following three ineffective plays on offense, South Whidbey lined up for a punt with Falcon sophomore quarterback Wesley Crain waiting to kick. A high snap resulted in a fumble recovered by the Wolves, who gained prime field position to score. Starting on the Falcons’ 21-yard line, the Wolves rushed their way to the end zone. Coupeville junior quarterback Hunter Downes capped off the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown, pushing the Wolves ahead 14-0.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Falcons spoiled the team’s second chance to respond to the Wolves, and South Whidbey was forced to punt. Downes connected with junior receiver Hunter Smith for a 19-yard touchdown that concluded with Smith diving for the end zone beyond the reach of Falcon defenders hurrying to stop him. The Wolves led 27-0 entering halftime.
“We were just making mistakes,” Crain said. “I think we were really just beating ourselves.”
In his first start at quarterback for the Falcons, Crain was one of the team’s most effective offensive weapons. He faced an onslaught of pressure on most plays and was forced to scramble and throw to his receivers on the run, connecting mostly with Antich and junior tight end Hunter Ewart. Some of the scrambles, however, led to turnovers. He was intercepted twice.
“I was just trying to make things happen,” Crain said.
Second-year head coach Michael Coe said the game was a learning experience. Anything that is not up to snuff will be corrected this week as the Falcons prepare for the home opener against Chimacum at 6 p.m. on Friday night at Waterman Field, he said.
“They didn’t do anything to wow us, we just didn’t do our jobs,” Coe said. “It’s really that simple.”
Antich said the team will evaluate its performance by watching film and fixing its most glaring issues.
“I think the big thing is that we have to move on and look at the film,” Antich said. “I think we’re really inexperienced and young and the film can help us a lot.”