The playoff runs of field hockey and boys’ soccer ended this week, leaving football and cross country the only Vineyard teams still in action. Football takes on league opponent Coyle-Cassidy in an away game tomorrow at 1 p.m. Cross country travels to the Eastern Massachusetts Divisional Championship meet, held in Wrentham, tomorrow.
Head football coach Donald Herman picked up his 200th Vineyard win Friday night before a home crowd as the team held on for their first Eastern Athletic Conference victory of the season, defeating Bishop Stang 22-18. Coach Herman’s 200th career win came two years ago; prior to coaching the Vineyarders, he led the Johnson High School football team in Savannah, Ga., where he recorded 12 wins.
Last Friday’s game was back and forth all night, and in the end the Vineyard team dug deep to make the win. “It was an exciting ball game,” Coach Herman said. “It wasn’t one . . . turning point . . . we made some big plays when we needed to make big plays.” The Vineyarders are now 5-4 and 1-2 in conference play. The team got on the board early, as a 64-yard drive midway through the first quarter concluded in a successful 16-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Alec Tattersall to fellow senior Jahmari Thomas. Senior running back Brandon Watkins provided the two-point conversion to put the team up 8-0.
The Spartans answered with a touchdown of their own at the end of the quarter, but a conversion attempt was thwarted by the Vineyard defense, and the purple-and-white remained ahead, 8-6. As the second quarter began, Tattersall handed off to Watkins, who streaked down field through the Spartan defense for an impressive 66-yard touchdown run. Senior Mike Cutrer’s successful kick added an extra point, and the Vineyard was up 15-6.
The remainder of the half was an up-and-down affair for the Vineyarders. The defense, led by senior Harry West and sophomores Kyle Stobie and Tony Canha, felt the absence of senior Doug Andrade, out with a shoulder injury, but nevertheless came up with several big plays, most notably forcing a turnover on downs with Stang on fourth and four. Containing Spartan quarterback Charlie McKeeman proved a daunting task, however, as McKeeman carried his team to another Bishop Stang touchdown, scoring with half a minute left in the first half. The Vineyard defense again blocked Stang’s hope for extra points, and the half ended with Martha’s Vineyard on top 15-12.
McKeeman scored again for Bishop Stang as the fourth quarter began, but the Spartans’ two-point conversion attempt was blocked by Cutrer in another standout defensive move. With the Vineyard behind for the first time in the game, 15-18, junior Joe Turney made a bullish 22-yard run up the middle following the kickoff return to put the Vineyard at first and ten on the 46-yard line. A Tattersall-Watkins handoff on the next play resulted in another Watkins long run; the senior rushed 47 yards, crisscrossing the field to avoid his opponents, for the Vineyard’s third touchdown. Cutrer easily made the extra point, putting the Vineyarders up 22-18 with eight minutes remaining in the game. Coach Herman was impressed by the execution of Turney’s counterplay run. “We hadn’t run up the field at all . . . it made them slow down, and helped set Brandon up [for the touchdown],” he said.
Senior Andrew Freitas made a key fumble recovery not long after to put the ball back in Vineyard hands. The makings of a strong drive by Tattersall, Thomas and senior Diego deFreitas were thwarted by a turnover on downs with four minutes remaining in the game. The Spartans moved down field once more, but a McKeeman long pass that would have put his team in scoring territory was knocked down.
The win was a testimony to the depth and physical strength of the Vineyard team, which has been plagued by injuries all season. Five starters, including Andrade and fellow senior Stuart Hersh, had to sit out Friday’s game, and sophomore John Henry O’Shaughnessy was taken out of play before the second half with a season-ending injury. The coaching staff had to tap into reserve players, and keep many on the field during both offensive and defensive plays. At one point, Coach Herman said, nine athletes were playing both ways.
“First, it’s impressive that we can do that,” he said, as it speaks to the players’ conditioning and training. Equally important was the mental conditioning: “We came through adversity, and it’s important for players to take away those sort of lessons,” the veteran coach said.
In their first post-season appearance in two years, the Vineyard field hockey squad fell 2-1 to Plymouth South last Thursday in the preliminary round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association South Division 2 tournament.
Sophomore Sydney Davies scored the lone Vineyard goal three minutes into the second half on a corner. But Plymouth South came out strong in the first half and was able to capitalize on Vineyard lapses in the second, scoring the go-ahead with less than two minutes left in the game.
The loss was especially wrenching for the 12 Vineyard seniors. The entire team gathered in the goal box after the game, tearful and hugging.
Plymouth South was seeded 20th in the tournament and had a .500 season record. The Vineyard, with its 9-5-4 record, was seeded 13th.
“They’re a good, strong team,” head coach Lisa Knight said of Plymouth South after the game, noting that all of the teams in the tournament are challenging opponents. “Seeds mean nothing at this point.”
Coach Knight was proud of all the team had accomplished this season, describing the 2012 squad as “27 of the most incredible young ladies I’ve ever coached.” The support of the coaching staff, all of whom have played in the Vineyard program, was immeasurable. “They know what it’s like,” Coach Knight said. “What’s really hard is to walk away from that huddle and know you’re never going to coach that same group of girls again, or coach these 12 seniors again,” she said.
The boys’ squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the MIAA South Division 2 tournament this week, defeating sixth-seeded Scituate 1-0 on Sunday in the first round, but falling to number three seed Holliston on Tuesday, 0-1. Martha’s Vineyard was seeded 11th going into the post season, and had a 7-4-5 record. Senior captain Jack Roberts scored for the Vineyarders in Sunday’s game.