Football Team Opens Season with Big Win

By JOSHUA SABATINI

They charged onto the football field shouting "No Mercy, No Mercy," as the setting sun shone on the backs of their purple jerseys.

For the 2002 Martha's Vineyard football squad, it was a fitting moment minutes before last Friday's season opener, at home against the Coyle-Cassidy Warriors. The current players, part of a program with a long list of shining achievements, will strive to carve their own path of glory from now until Dec. 7, the day of the Super Bowl.

Their history is an impressive one: Division 5 Super Bowl champions in 1991, 1992, 1997 and 1999, and Mayflower League Large champions each of those years as well as in 2000 and 2001.

The Vineyard squad dominated in a 29-0 win over the Warriors. Fans, hoping for a fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs, had much to celebrate as this year's team - looking quite a bit different on the field than last year's - showed a deep arsenal.

"This was a good way to open up the season for us," said head coach Donald Herman.

The Vineyard won the coin toss, but rather than opting to receive chose the side with the wind - a smart move by Coach Herman. According to the control tower at Martha's Vineyard Airport, winds were blowing steady out of the northwest, and peaked at 47 miles per hour.

On their second possession of the game, the Warriors found themselves punting against the wind from their own 1-yard line. The Vineyard defense had turned ferocious, despite playing without its two starting defensive ends, and had forced the Warriors back eight yards on third down on a quarterback sack by James Rebello.

The Vineyard offense, led by quarterback Eric McCarthy, started its second offensive drive of the day on the Coyle 24, thanks to the wind and a lackluster Warrior punt.

After being sacked on first down, McCarthy found Max Schilcher for a 12-yard gain. McCarthy showed early he has what it takes to lead his team as quarterback and went on to finish with an outstanding 10-for-16 passing for 77 yards and one touchdown.

On the next play, McCarthy was at it again, sailing a pass to an open Nicholi Sullo to bring the team just seven yards from the Warrior goal line. J.D. Wild ran up the middle for four, and McCarthy sealed the drive himself with a three-yard touchdown run.

McCarthy then passed to an open Ted Desrosiers for a two-point conversion.

Such offensive diversity was exhibited all night beneath the flood lights. Wild fought his way downfield throughout the game with 12 rushes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. McCarthy found sticky hands and speedy feet in Desrosiers, who caught four passes for 68 yards and one touchdown.

Sullo also stood out Friday night, with a solid all-around game. He set up the Vineyarders for two scores with a 28-yard punt return and an interception. He caught five passes to go with the two-point conversion.

With 7:07 remaining in the first half, Wild bulled the pigskin through a wall of defenders for a three-yard touchdown run, and Ben Gunn successfully completed his first of three extra point kicks, putting the Vineyard up, 15-0.

Gunn had his second successful extra point kick after McCarthy threaded the ball up the middle through waving Warriors' hands for a five-yard touchdown pass to Desrosiers. The Vineyarders went into the half up 22-0.

The final score of the game came in the third quarter, as the Vineyard squad drove the ball from its own 41. After five plays, the Vineyarders were three yards from scoring. A determined Wild rushed the ball in once again, and Gunn added to the score with a final extra point kick, capping off an impressive victory.

Coach Herman said McCarthy had a solid performance on the field. In fact, last Friday was a milestone in the history of Coach Herman's teams. Instead of using the running game to open up the passing game, the reverse was true, using the pass to open up the run.

But this standard, said Mr. Herman, cannot be relied on. He said playing football in New England makes the passing game difficult because the weather can be severe; he hopes to improve on the team's running the ball.

Coach Herman said the Warriors are usually a physical team and fast on the field, but, to his team's credit, the Vineyard squad "never gave Coyle a chance."

The Vineyarders next take on Westwood, at home Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Coach Herman said Westwood likes to pass the football a lot and spread the field offensively, while defensively, the team often uses the blitz. Last year, Martha's Vineyard beat Westwood, 13-7.