By Mike Martin
The only thing that kept the vaunted Friday Harbor Wolverines defense from harassing the Coupeville Wolves on Friday, Sept. 14 was a lightning strike and a 30-minute weather safety delay.
In the Wolverines’ 17-0 shutout victory Friday night in Coupeville, the 2B Wolverines football ran their scoreless streak to nine-plus quarters including back-to-back shutouts to 1A opponents Bellevue Christian and Coupeville. The last time a team put any points on the Wolverine defense was in the third quarter of the season-opener at South Whidbey.
“I felt we were just gaining momentum when the delay happened,” Friday Harbor Head Coach Brock Hauck said of their lightning strike with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter. “They were eager to get back on the field and pound out the win,” he said of the delay.
The Wolverines suffocating defense threw a wet blanket onto the red-hot Coupeville rushing attack. Entering the game, Coupeville running back, Sean Toomey-Stout, averaged 256 rushing yards a game and had 528 rushing yards on the season. The Wolverines held him 234 yards below his season average as he went for 32 yards.
Friday Harbor senior Emeron Geiser said that the Wolverines focus was not on stopping Toomey-Stout but the entire Coupeville offense. “We prepared for the whole team and not just one player,” he said. “Our scout team was a very big part of the preparation for this game.”
The Wolverines offense sputtered on their first drive as they turned the ball over on downs at their own 30-yard line. Coupeville drove inside the 20 before Emeron Geiser ended the threat from a big hit and a forced fumble with Brian Wolf on the recovery inside the 10. The Wolves were not able to mount a serious threat the rest of the game as their offense netted less than 30 yards the rest of the game.
After a sloppy first quarter where the teams swapped turnovers and penalties, the physicality of the Wolverines began to wear on the home team. A Kaeden Richie interception set up the first score of the game late in the second quarter. Milo Geiser kicked a field goal and the Wolverines took a 3-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
Usually, there’s no mystery to the power run game: Emeron Geiser left, Emeron Geiser right, Emeron Geiser up the middle. However, Coach Hauck moved Geiser from tailback to fullback and Kyson Jackson from receiver to tailback to start the second half.
“Kyson is very shifty and poses different problems than Emeron,” Hauck said.
His reasoning is with two ball carriers in the backfield at the same time puts pressure on the defense because they can’t just key off of one back. The move paid off immediately as the Wolverines opened the second half going on a 62-yard touchdown drive on five plays. The drive included a 19-yard carry by Jackson to the left followed by a 27-yard Geiser touchdown up the middle. The point after was missed giving Friday Harbor a 9-0.
Entering Friday night, Geiser had 563 yards on the season In the first half he averaged 4 yards a carry and nearly 8 yards a carry after the switch. He finished the night with 189 yards on 40 carries and two touchdowns.
The Wolverines defense began to wear down the Wolves offense as their rushing attack ground to a halt, and that’s when lightning struck twice. The Wolves attempted to pass the ball to get back into the game when Austin Wynne took over the game. On back-to-back plays, Austin Wynne was in the backfield nearly as quickly as the ball with sacks totaling -14 yards. He finished the game with four sacks. Weston Swirtz and Emeron Geiser led the defense with nine tackles apiece.
Despite being at home, the Wolves never looked comfortable running or passing the ball against the ferocious Wolverines defense. Coach Hauck said that he’s proud of the entire defense. “They play fast and physical,” he said, “that’s Wolverine football.”
The Wolverines offense is often referred to as “ground and pound” but their defense is known for its “pound and pound” style. Similar to their home victory over Bellevue Christian on Friday, Sept. 7, the Wolverines allowed fewer than 50 yards total offense. In fact, the defense has given up just 79 yards total the past two games … while playing up one level.
Offensive and defensive line coach, Rob Walters, said that the constant pounding by Friday Harbor defensive line wore down the home team and physical mistakes turned into mental mistakes as the team pulled away late in the game.
With the younger Geiser sidelined with a knee injury, the Wolverines were unable to convert a 2-point attempt. However, the ensuing kickoff was returned by the Wolves to their own end zone for a safety to give Friday Harbor the final margin of 17-0.
The Wolverines host the Turks of Sultan High School, Friday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m.