There are times when every reporter figures there must be another angle from which to look at something. When the score ends up 36-0 for the bad guys, it’s one of those times. Fortunately, the Vineyard-Nantucket clash is a story in itself, beyond the football field.
Saturday morning, you may recall, was a bit on the blustery side. Not to mention soggy. I called Lois DeBettencourt hoping for a cancellation in the flight plans, but she said, “We’re going!”
The airport was a mass of purple and white. Between the team members and 27 brave spectators the galley was rather packed. Alison Shaw and I had a choice of which plane we wanted. We picked the last run hoping the wind would die and the sun would come out.
Some of the kids there had never flown before. Nervous laughter and looksees at the wind velocity were common. But off we all went in the little Gull Air nine-seater. We figured that the pilot crossed the water between the two islands 12 times that day.
Once landed and bused to the battlegrounds, everyone’s stomach seemed to have recovered from the bumpy ride. The sun came out and the temperature rose. The Nantucket folks greeted us with a combination of things. They were seeling “Vineyard mums,” with purple ribbons tied around them. We were definitely outnumbered however.
The way we figure it, there was no one else to be found on that island that wasn’t at the game. There were four floats on display from that morning’s parade, there was a band in the bleachers, there were at least 25 cheerleaders, a long line at the concession stand and literally hundreds of people dressed in blue and white. It was evidently homecoming day on Nantucket.
Lois DeBettencourt, head cheerleader, was not to be outdone. She had done a masterful job in getting us all there, and we were going to holler and cheer under her direction. So, equipped with her cow bell and banners, off we went to line the goal posts as the purple and white jogged onto the field.
One national anthem later the game was on. It certainly looked like the Nantucket squad had dressed anyone that resembled a football player. Alison and I had great seats on the “press platform” along with the cable T.V. crew. We still can’t figure how anyone was at home to watch the game. They all had to be at the field.
And then the kickoff. The Vineyard gave the ball to Nantucket for the first time in what turned out to be a long, long game for the good guys.
The first quarter was dominated by Nantucket, but the Vineyard staved off the attack, despite giving up a possession on a penalty. Andy “Groper” Warlock made some nice tackles. Freddie Fragosa was pretty ferocious, and Mike Hewitt creamed the ball carrier a few times. Mark McCarthy was quarterbacking the Vineyard offense and ended up punting from the end-zone in their first takeover of the ball.
With 7:59 left to play in the second quarter Nantucket scored. When I asked how to spell the name of the kid who scored the TD and caught the pass for the two-point conversion, I didn’t think I would memorize it by writing it down four times. Well, Beau Almodobar, a sophomore, scored four touchdowns that afternoon. The Nantucket team was as a unit scored five touchdowns and completed conversions three times. That added up to 36 points.
Co-captain Mark McCarthy tried everything he could to stir things up. He ran the ball himself, faked a punt and gained a first down, and was sacked a few times. He withstood some tremendous shots. Co-captain Jerry Searle tried too, but he hurt his knee again. Danny Rossi played pretty well also. Coach Bacheller said, “I wish it were different, but it’s not.”
There were a few long faces in the airport as we awaited our turn to return to the big Island. We had had enough of Nantucket for one day. But the long season for the pigskin was over, and for some there was a sense of relief that no one was hurt badly and that somehow every one grew in some way. And now it’s on to winter - and basketball.