The Vashon Pirates played a tough, big-hearted game in Coupeville Friday night. The scrappy contest was 0-0 all the way into the last quarter, but the Coupeville Wolves ended up on top with a final 13-0 score after a couple of tough breaks.
Regardless, the Pirates looked a world away from the team that played in Sultan the week before, primarily in their defensive work.
The first half of the game was definitely a defensive battle, though the Wolves routinely showed up better on the offensive side. Still, the Pirates were able to keep them from scoring.
A big part of the Pirate success was due to junior linebackers Jack Cunningham and Moses Kilpatrick aggressively tackling the Wolves.
One great example: Pirate seniors Joe Ghigleri, Jess Leysath and Will Hennessey were tough on the quarterback with an array of sacks and tackles in the backfield. In fact, the three seniors had a combined 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
In the fourth quarter, a torrent of rain started coming down on the game, and it made things a little slippery. Both the ball and the field started showing wear and tear, increasing fumbles and falls from both teams.
In a still scoreless game, the Wolves were down on the 4-yard line, ready for their first score. Things looked pretty grim, but the player dropped the ball. Senior Pirate Sol Dehnert managed to bat the ball away and into the endzone, putting the Pirates onto the 20-yard line and in charge. Of course, that could have caused a Cinderella ending, but the Wolves ended up coming back and scoring. They scored again in the final minute of the game for the 13-0 score.
There are plenty of bright spots for the Pirates with a young, scrappy quarterback (Will Godwin is only a freshman), some hard-working and reliable seniors on defense and plenty of spirit in the face of tough losses. Long-time Pirates are still hoping they can rally this season and pull out a couple of wins.
Hopefully, the close game gives the Pirates a little confidence as they head into their big home opener next week against Cedar Park Christian in Bothell. The contrast between Vashon’s small football program and Cedar Park could not be more stark. In fact, it is a contrast all too often seen between public school athletics and heavily-funded private school programs. Friday could be a tough game. Not only did Cedar Park beat the Pirates badly last year, but the team is already off to a strong start on its season with lopsided wins.
Random trivia: Two years ago, Cedar Park hired the controversial former football coach of Bellevue High School, Butch Goncharoff, who was ousted by Bellevue after a massive investigation by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). He was a tremendously successful coach at Bellevue, but after a Seattle Times investigation found illegal recruiting, payments to players and questionable acceptance of nearly $425,000 in stipends to Bellevue’s coaching staff by the booster club over a five-year period, he was removed from his job. None of this stopped Cedar Park from quickly snatching him up. Now just after two years with the new coach, the school has already run into difficulties. Last year other schools in the conference complained about some of Cedar Park’s practices in recruiting and marketing, and the school’s “self-reported” violations.
Hopefully many islanders will show up to support Vashon, whose program has struggled over the years, in facing a competitor that clearly will be a tough match.
To make things even more attractive for the home opener, the island will be celebrating its new field and track. Festivities begin with an open field for the community (must wear athletic or soft-soled shoes), welcome remarks and a ribbon-cutting. What’s more, because of Vashon Thriftway, Vashon Pharmacy and Sawbones, all of those attending the game Friday will get in for free. The sponsorships of the generous island businesses have made it possible to come and celebrate the new track and field after so many years of work for the community.
— Lauri Hennessey is the parent of a Pirate football player.