Football Team Rides Road to Super Bowl Through Nantucket

By BRETT FERRY

The 9-1 Martha's Vineyard football team will fly to Nantucket tomorrow to battle the 6-3 Whalers, aiming to secure an undefeated league record - and with it a spot in the state playoffs - even as they try to win a fourth consecutive Island Cup. Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Nantucket High School.

The matchup between the two archrivals has grown over the decades into a huge annual event for both Island communities, each of which boasts an extremely well respected football program. This year marks the 54th meeting of the schools since 1960 and the 25th in which the Island Cup trophy is at stake.

The game has even attracted attention on a national level because of the uniqueness of the Island rivalry. USA Today reported just this week on the competition between the two squads.

If the weather is nice, attendance at what is also Nantucket's homecoming game is expected to approach 5,000. One forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 50 degrees.

The Martha's Vineyard Touchdown Club has organized a special fan boat to run between the Islands tomorrow. The SSA vessel Martha's Vineyard will depart from the ferry terminal in Vineyard Haven at 7 a.m. and will return from Nantucket, with the football team on board, immediately after the game.

Advance tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for students and seniors; and are available at Al Noyes Auto (508-627-8910) and at the high school cafeteria from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today. All tickets sold the day of travel will be $25. Contact Ellen Gaskill at 508-693-3086 with any questions about the fan boat.

Cape Air has also increased service between the Islands for game day. Multiple flights are scheduled to leave at 9:05 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. Return flights from Nantucket are scheduled at 4:40 and 4:45 p.m. Discounted round-trip tickets are $65 and can be booked by calling Cape Air at 800-352-0714.

In addition to the fan boat, the Touchdown Club organized a wealth of activities leading up to the game. A bonfire was held at the high school last night, a steak dinner will be held for the team tonight and the school has been decorated all week to help get the student body charged up for the game. Touchdown Club vice president Phil Hale said that between 25 and 30 volunteers logged close to 220 hours of work on preparation for this week alone.

Intensity was high at Vineyard practices this week as the squad prepared for its last regular-season game. Coaches tried to channel the excited energy into routine drills and conditioning.

After practice on Tuesday, one player pulled aside head coach Donald Herman to apologize for letting his intensity get the best of him and engaging in a scuffle during practice.