The annual rivalry football game between Coupeville and South Whidbey over "The Bucket" is an electric event any year, but this fall's clash is carrying even higher voltage.
It's homecoming week in Coupeville and the outcome of the game, which will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at Mickey Clark Field, will most likely determine which of the Whidbey schools advances to the playoffs.
The Wolves kept themselves in the playoff hunt when Jake Tumblin lit up the stat sheet and the Coupeville defense lit up Granite Falls in the Wolves' 23-7 win over the host Tigers Friday, Oct. 11.
Coupeville coach Tony Maggio, in reference to this Friday's showdown with the Falcons, said, "This is our Super Bowl Week. We will give it all we got."
One thing that Maggio has at his disposal is a nearly full roster. The Wolves have been dinged by injuries all year, but with the exception of starting center Carson Risner, who is out with a knee injury, the Coupeville squad is fully loaded.
Tumblin is one of the players fighting an injury; a hamstring issue caused him to miss one game and limited his time and effectiveness in others.
He is back to full strength, according to Maggio, and it showed Friday at Granite Falls (0-6). The senior speedster rushed for 201 yards on 16 carries and caught a team-high three passes for 38 yards.
The Wolves also welcomed back quarterback Gunnar Langvold, and the passing game perked up as he hit 6-of-11 passes for 104 yards.
Maggio said, "Gunnar threw some nice balls and just missed on two or three long ones."
Maggio was pleased with the offensive performance of his club, but it was the Wolves's defense, he said, that made the strongest statement against the Tigers.
"Our defense is really clicking; it's really flying around," Maggio said.
The linebacking corps of Tumblin, Brett Arnold, Lathom Kelley, Wiley Hesselgrave and Jared Dickson was particularly stout, Maggio said.
Tumblin was also the statistical leader of the stop unit, recording six solo tackles and 10 assists.
Lineman Nick Streubel was a beast, Maggio said, with seven solo tackles and five assists.
One of Streubel's hits knocked the Cascade Conference's leading rusher, Matthew Hamilton, out of the game in the third quarter.
Arnold and Kelley each finished with seven tackles, and Josh Bayne, Ben Haight, Aaron Wright and Dickson had six apiece.
The Wolves scored first on an 8-yard run by Arnold and Bayne's two-point conversion run in the first quarter.
After a Coupeville fumble at its own 20 in the second quarter, Granite Falls scored on a 5-yard Hamilton run. The PAT kick made it 8-7.
Coupeville quickly countered when Langvold connected with Wade Schaef on a 55-yard scoring strike. Joel Walstad kicked the extra point.
Tumblin sprinted in from 48 yards out in the third quarter and Bayne tacked on another two-point conversion to finish the scoring.
Coupeville dominated the game, moving inside the 20 three other times but failed to produce points. The end of the half, a missed field goal and a fourth-down stop stunted those drives.
Coupeville (3-2), because it is playing as an independent in football, needs to finish with a .500 or better record and defeat either South Whidbey or King's (the other conference 1A schools) to qualify for the playoffs, according to Maggio.
A win over the Falcons Friday would assure the Wolves would meet those marks. After the South Whidbey game, Coupeville closes out the regular season against two of the Cascade Conferences best teams, going to King's (4-0, 5-1) Oct. 25 and hosting Sultan (2-2, 2-4) Nov. 1.