The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School football team's 42-6 drubbing of Cathedral High School on Saturday could be summed up when Panther kicker Kancley Val lined up for an on-sides kick, rushed the ball furiously, and missed.
Whether Val actually made contact, or the rush of his body created a gust of wind, the ball did manage to come off the tee and roll a good two or three inches. The only problem was it rolled in the wrong direction.
Public address announcer Todd Hollister diplomatically made the call that the ball rolled dead at the Cathedral 40 yard line. But several of the small but spirited home crowd, who were witnessing what must have seemed like a match up of the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals, were less gentile.
"Yeah, I guess that's one way to put it," responded one member of the crowd.
The Vineyarders dominated Cathedral on Saturday, scoring early and often, leading the game by four touchdowns going into the half.
Coach Donald Herman replaced many of the starters late in the second half, and completely emptied his bench by the start of the fourth quarter.
As the players left the field at halftime, several juniors and seniors could be heard shouting "shut out, shut out!" For the better part of four quarters, it seemed likely they would get their wish.
The Panthers finally lit up the scoreboard in the final minutes of the game when running back Robert Williams scampered around the Vineyarders' third string offensive line to post Cathedral's lone score of the game. But Cathedral's attempt at a two-point conversion was snuffed out by a swarming Vineyard defense.
With the win, the Vineyarders climb to 3-0 on the season, and now enter one of the toughest stretches of the season with a game at Pembroke this week followed by away games at Middleboro and Blue Hills.
Following Saturday's game, coach Herman said his team played some of its best football all season.
"They played well in every aspect of the game; they blocked well, they defended well, they challenged every [Panther] possession. They didn't play down to the level of the competition; they instead rose up," the coach said.
The Vineyarders set the tone early when senior running back David Amabile dashed to the left of the Panthers offensive line for a three-yard touchdown. Coach Herman reached into his bag of tricks and caught the Panthers sleeping when quarterback Cliff Ibarrondo connected with Tyler Hathaway for a two-point conversion.
Amabile finished the game with close to 100 yards rushing and three touchdowns, although Coach Herman, as usual, spread the possessions out across the backfield.
Hathaway scored on a five-yard run in the third quarter, while Ibarrondo opened the scoring in the second half with a cutting 12-yard off-tackle run that also seemed to catch the Panther's front line off-guard.
After a bad punt gave the Vineyarders the ball at the Panthers' 35-yard line late in the second quarter, Amabile scored on the next play when he cut through two defenders for a 35-yard touchdown run. Following a sloppy Panther possession and another bad punt, Vineyard junior running back Josh Paulson made the score 21-0 with a three-yard run.
The Vineyarders were basically on cruise control for the rest of the game, although their intensity level remained high. Senior linebacker Bastile Lucier got one of the best reactions from the home crowd late in the second quarter when he enveloped Williams in a not-so-friendly bear hug and pulled him to the ground for a loss of five yards.
The defensive line, led by Lucier, Alan Fortes and Jimmy Bishop, shut down the Panther's running attack throughout the game, while the Vineyarder offensive line unleashed a bevy of backs for a total of 236 yards. Zach Coutinho continued to shine on special teams, converting four extra points.
Cathedral finished the game with just under 100 yards of total offense.
Despite the uneven score, most of the spirited crowd stayed for the entire game. The weather was rainy and windy, aptly described by one woman in the stands as "clam chowder weather," just before she produced a plastic thermos filled with New England clam chowder.
The lopsided win may have been extra satisfying for Vineyard coaches and players after Cathedral tried unsuccessfully to pull out of the game three weeks ago. School officials agreed to pay the cost of the ferry for Cathedral players and coaches to help entice them to keep their commitment.
"We're glad we kept the game on the schedule, it would have created a big hole," was all coach Herman said about the scheduling rift.
He said the upcoming slate of away games against a trio of tough opponents will be a real test for the team. To be successful through the next three weeks, the team will need confidence, something Coach Herman believes his team has in good measure.
"They're a confident team - but not cocky - which is a good balance. They have chemistry as a team, which is something we'll need in the coming weeks," he said.