Alison Shaw
The 40 knot wind howled on Saturday afternoon and it was guaranteed that the Nantucket Whalers football team and their fans would be screaming with delight Saturday night. They had won their 10th game in a row to cap an undefeated league season. Unfor­tunately, the Vineyarders were the team they beat, 31-12.
The conditions for the game were fine except the wind. Flying over was a little nerve wracking, especially landing in the gale. There was conversation about the wind’s effect on Darren Lobdell’s passing game and the Vineyard’s kicking game. The fans knew Nantucket would be running the ball. Beau Almodobar, their halfback was the league leading rusher and holds several records in the state. At least he is a senior this year.
As always, it seemed almost everyone on Nantucket was on hand to support the home team. It was home-coming weekend. Floats with every kind of anti-Vineyard slogan and design paraded through town with the fire trucks and antique autos. There was a grape stomping float, and a Vineyard coffin float, and a float with a harpooned Vineyarder with a killer whale about to enjoy a meal. There was plenty of community excitement on Nantucket.
The teams warmed up at opposite ends of the field. Cheers and uniform counting of the exercises were hollered back and forth. The teams met at mid­field for the toss of the coin and the Vineyarders won. Seemed to be a good omen. Guess again.
Alison Shaw and I climbed up to the platform-with-the cable television crew and hung on for dear life in the breeze. The line drive kick-off was picked up by Alphie Araujo who ran it back to the 35 yard line. The offense took over and Lobdell tested the wind and had an incompletion and an interception. Nantucket took over on the Vineyard 10 yard line. Almodobar gained 5 yards on his first run and a touchdown on his second run. The two point conversion was good and it was 8-0 Nantucket after 57 seconds of football.
After two kickoffs the Vineyarders got the ball but again they were in poor field position. Two plays later Peter Marks recovered a fumble for the Whalers. It was first and 10 on the Vineyard 15 before Almodobar ran for 12 yards and Steve Herrick, the quar­terback, snuck through for a touch­down. Almodobar ran the two point conversion and it was 16-0 after two minutes, 47 seconds of football. There was one comment from the Vineyard side that it might be a long af­ternoon...
The purple and white got the ball again and this time had to punt on fourth down. Dana Morris intercepted a pass for a shining moment in the first quarter with 4:58 remaining. But the offense could not get rolling and the Vineyard was forced to punt into the wind.
Beau Almodobar showed some more prowess as a runner and as a passer on this possession. He caught a pitch-out and squared to throw the ball. The recipient of the pass was his twin brother Dino in the end zone. This time the Whalers kicked the point after and the score was 23-0 with 1:14 left in the first quarter. The Whalers had outscored their opponents 84-0 in the first quarter this season.
The second quarter was more even. The Vineyarders did not get a first down, but they moved the ball a little better and the defense was reading plays better. The only score came when Almodobar went to punt the ball and decided instead to run 45 yards for a touchdown. Beau had 106 yards tallied in 6 carries, two touchdowns and a 2 point conversion to add to his statistics for the first half.
The third quarter was loaded with penalties, mostly off-sides. Each team gave the ball to the other for 10 minutes. In the fourth quarter, the Vineyarders came to life. They recovered a missed snap on a field goal attempt and had decent field position on their own 40 yard line.
Lobdell threw a pass that receiver Philip Regan snared with one hand for the first Vineyard first down of the game. On the next play Marc Rivers caught a screen pass and sprinted down field for a touchdown. Rivers ended up with 115 yards rushing for the Vineyard. The Vineyarders missed the conversion points and kicked-off to the Whalers. The defense stopped them on four plays and the Vineyarders took over on downs at midfield.
The third Almodobar, brother Danboy, haunted the purple and white next as he picked off a Lobdell pass. The Whalers, running with an entirely senior offense, were headed for the end zone when a clipping call brought the ball back. Marc Rivers stopped Beau Almodobar before he gained first down yardage and the Vineyarders took over the ball with two minutes left in the game.
The senior defense was playing for Nantucket and they almost logged another interception but Rivers took the ball out of their hands and ran 60 more yards. There was a call for roughing the quarterback and it was first and goal from the five yard line. Lobdell called a quarterback sneak and ran through for the touchdown making it a respectable showing for the Vineyard. In fact, it was an excellent second half which the Vineyarders won 12-0.
Look at it this way — all three Almodobars graduate in June.