The 2018 South Whidbey football team — Front row, right to left: Tyler Thrasher, Erik Haugen, Shelby Campbell, Justin Moberly, Dominick Anderson, CH Chapman, Billy Rankin, Tasman Dussault, Joey Mattson, Anthony Hall.	Second row: Ryan Morgan, Dexter Jokinen, Bodie Hezel, Brandon Thrasher, Kobe Balora, Caden Spear, Larry Harrera, Cody Woolcock, Clay O’Brien, Cameron Martin, Alex Black.	Third row: coaches Shane Thrasher, Grandpa Hodson, Andy Davis, Luke Hodson, Mark Hodson, Jim Thompson, Sean Spear, Leo Langer, Bob Hezel.	Back row: Aiden Coleman, Aidyn Frederick, Lewis Mattson, Dayton Birchfield, Cody Eager, Kole Nelson, Wyatt DeMers, Brady Hezel, Kieran Birchfield, Kody Newman, Zane Balora, Kaidyn Brinks. (Photo by Jim Waller/South Whidbey Record)

The 2018 South Whidbey football team — Front row, right to left: Tyler Thrasher, Erik Haugen, Shelby Campbell, Justin Moberly, Dominick Anderson, CH Chapman, Billy Rankin, Tasman Dussault, Joey Mattson, Anthony Hall. Second row: Ryan Morgan, Dexter Jokinen, Bodie Hezel, Brandon Thrasher, Kobe Balora, Caden Spear, Larry Harrera, Cody Woolcock, Clay O’Brien, Cameron Martin, Alex Black. Third row: coaches Shane Thrasher, Grandpa Hodson, Andy Davis, Luke Hodson, Mark Hodson, Jim Thompson, Sean Spear, Leo Langer, Bob Hezel. Back row: Aiden Coleman, Aidyn Frederick, Lewis Mattson, Dayton Birchfield, Cody Eager, Kole Nelson, Wyatt DeMers, Brady Hezel, Kieran Birchfield, Kody Newman, Zane Balora, Kaidyn Brinks. (Photo by Jim Waller/South Whidbey Record)

Prep preview / Football

When the South Whidbey football team went to an independent schedule last fall, it found what it was looking for — competitive games.

The Falcons struggled in recent years, winning only four of 29 games from 2014-16.

As the losses mounted, the roster and community support dwindled. To revive the program, South Whidbey dropped its Cascade Conference schedule last year and became an independent; it also enticed former coach Mark Hodson, someone with strong community ties, and several of his assistants to return to the sidelines. Hodson previously coached the Falcons from 2001-2013.

Going independent enabled the school to schedule teams of similar size and talent.

The Falcons lost their first two games, then finished strong, winning the final seven.

“The players got a taste for winning last year and understand that the effort in practice will pay off come Friday night,” Hodson said.

The success also helped boost the roster, which is around 40 players for 2018, and build some momentum going into the inaugural year of the North Sound Conference.

The new league includes Coupeville and four other leftovers from the Cascade Conference, King’s, Cedar Park Christian-Bothell, Sultan and Granite Falls.

Gone are state power Archbishop Murphy, a private school, and Cedarcrest, a school with twice the enrollment as South Whidbey.

“(We are) very excited to be in a conference again and that we are able to field a team that will be competitive,” Hodson said.

The goal, Hodson said, is to “continue to rebuild the strong tradition of South Whidbey football and provide a fun, safe and competitive program for our community.”

This year’s club will be built around four two-way lettermen: quarterback/defensive back Cody Newman, running back/defensive back Caden Spear, running back/linebacker Clay O’Brien and lineman Carter Snell.

Key newcomers, according to Hodson, are running back/linebacker CH Chapman and wide receiver/defensive back Alex Black.

Hodson indicated the team’s strength will be its defense, which was stout last fall.

“We are improving offensively at the skill positions everyday,” he added.

The Falcons gave up an average of 14 points per game in 2017 while scoring at a 27-points-per-game clip.

South Whidbey begins the season with four non-league games, starting with a home contest at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, against Friday Harbor. The Wolverines posted a 4-5 record last year, including a 20-19 loss to South Whidbey.

More in Sports

Photos: Falcons compete at state / Wrestling

Photographer John Fisken caught the South Whidbey High School wrestling team in… Continue reading

O’Brien finishes 6th at state / Wrestling

South Whidbey High School senior Clay O’Brien placed sixth at the 1A… Continue reading

Newman follows his own path to sports excellence

Some thought South Whidbey High School senior Kody Newman was out of… Continue reading

Regional tournaments canceled / Wrestling

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Friday morning that the regional wrestling… Continue reading

Mistakes and red-hot Meridian sink Falcons / Boys basketball

Turnovers and a hot shooting opponent sunk the South Whidbey High School… Continue reading

South Whidbey crushes Granite Falls in district opener / Boys basketball

A stingy defense and some offense from an unexpected source propelled the… Continue reading

South Whidbey will now host Granite Falls in district opener / Boys basketball

School cancellations the past two days because of weather have required the… Continue reading

Falcons’ district game postponed again / Boys basketball

The South Whidbey High School boys 1A distract basketball game at Meridian… Continue reading

Falcons’ district tournament game postponed / Boys basketball

South Whidbey High School’s opening game in the boys 1A district basketball… Continue reading

South Whidbey’s district game rescheduled for Tuesday / Boys basketball

South Whidbey’s opening game in the 1A boys district basketball tournament at… Continue reading

5 Falcons advance to regional meet / Wrestling

Five South Whidbey High School wrestlers earned berths in the regional tournament… Continue reading

League leaders stop South Whidbey / Girls basketball

The schedulers didn’t do the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team… Continue reading