Thanksgiving feasting, means dark meat, white meat, and - this week on Martha's Vineyard - fresh Nantucket whalemeat. In the words of Coach Bob Tankard:

Quarterback Jamie Maciel Carries
Alison Shaw

"How sweet it is!"

In the lobby of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, it's time to shake the dust from the trophy case. It's time to shine, time to make room for the big one.

The trophy, all two feet and some-odd inches of it.

The Islands Trophy, the Little Brown Jug of the Mayflower League, symbol of a backyard rivalry born in 1960. It's back on the Vineyard, and it's inscribed with the score of the 1985 contest: Vineyard 12, Nantucket 2.

Vito Capizzo, famed coach of the Whalers, the Nantucket High School football team, says they created the trophy the last time the purple and white upset his boys. That was in 1977, when the Vineyard scrambled to a 14-12 win.

For the next eight years, Mr. Capizzo, a man cut fresh from the Joe Paterno mold of coachdom – Coke-bottle rim glasses, large nose, navy blue tie with the insignia of the whale mascot speckled blue sweater vest and white shirt on top, hearty lungs within – guarded the trophy, held it captive on the dot that is a two-hour ferry ride away.

Last Saturday, Nov. 23, the time came for Vito Capizzo and his Whalers to give it up.

But the Nantucket coach pulled a move to remind all doubters that football is not just a physical game.

Rather than let on to his charges - who included a young Capizzo named Scott - that defeat is drawn on the back of the hand while victory is in its palm, Coach Capizzo chose not to carry the Islands Trophy into enemy territory.

"Vito didn't think he was going to lose, so he didn't bring it with him," explains Bob Tankard with a laugh.

He is Coach T, for five years the head coach of the Vineyarder football team. As an assistant who pitched in for the 1977 win, Coach T had some idea of what to look forward to, though no one had a clue that the Whalers, many of them juniors this year, would leave the Vineyard with their work for 1986 already cut out for them.

And for Island women — some of them mothers of graduating seniors on the varsity squad, who rode onto the field in an R. M. Packer Co. truck aflutter with purple and white streamers — it signaled the end of the pop quiz of their sons' football positions.

Barbara Duart, talk about son Peter for a minute, please.

"He was home by 9:30 last night. He's been awake, thinking about this game since 5:30 a.m. He won't eat. I think it's nerves."

What position does he play?

"You think I know?"

Donna Joyce, isn't Michael one of the senior players?

"He's one of the captains."

Mrs. Joyce, what does he play?

She calls to one of her friends: "What does he play?"

All great victories must have a little something for everybody and a little everybody for something. Saturday's was such a game — blue sky, multi-colored balloons, homecoming for Vineyard college freshmen, elbow-rubbing for town officials, a perfect excuse to have a great day.

Now back to the game.

With a fairly lean tally of 12-2, the season-closer, which both coaches later described as a clean and smoothly-fought battle, was as handy and neat a defeat for the Whalers — finishing the season 6-4 — as it was a victory for the Vineyarders, who went out 7-3.

In the first quarter, the Whalers bared their teeth as any visiting brute should, and pinned the Vineyard offense in its own territory. The defensive work paid off with a safety by first quarter's end.

It might have had something to do with the Whalers' pre-game style.

First they ran onto the field, screaming and shouting death to the enemy while their cleats tore up the turf.

They fell into a four-line assembly for warm-up exercises.

Led by Whaler number 51, in between the jumping jacks and the touch-your-toes, they shouted:

"We're gonna kill! Yeah! Yeah! We're gonna destroy! Yeah! Yeah!"

There followed a cacophony of guttural gruntings and roars.

But in the end it was the Vineyarders who went for the jugular. As half-time neared, the Vineyard defensive front broke through to block a punt near mid-field. Tackle Eric Blake, all 250 pounds of him, ran the ball 45 yards into the end zone. Vineyard 6, Nantucket 2.

Clusters of multi-colored balloons rose off the stands, sirens shrilled and a man perched atop the announcer's box shouted at a volume heard all over the field.

From the stands came the chant:

"Here we go, Vineyard, Here we go! Here we go, Vineyard, Here we go!"

And on the yellowish light of the John Morris Memorial Scoreboard — dedicated at ceremonies before kick-off in the name of the Vineyard high school athlete who shared class offices with Edward Ben David and Patricia Costa in 1954 and who several years ago lost his life to cancer — flashed the score.

Nancy Morris and Dana, Stacey and Kimberly received the well-wishes at noontime ceremonies from Francis E. Pachico, superintendent of schools, and Anne Carmichael, athletic director at the high school.

Throughout the game, Coach T repeated his gratitude to Mr. Morris, and closer to the half, right after Mr. Blake's explosion into the end zone, he added a few more words.

"Now we're going, now we're going," he hummed merrily as he paced back and forth over the sidelines.

"Hey, tell them to tighten up in there. Hey!" yelled Coach T.

And then, with a little more than a minute left in the first half, assistant coach Timmy Anthony — more voice than stature, more doubled over than straight — tried to remind the young players to call for time.

"Time out! Time out! Time out! Geez!" They caught it on the Geez.

A slight lull in the action meant Marc Widdiss and buddies, one with funny orange sunglasses, another with a green baseball cap, called it a break and ate hot dogs.

Seated a few rows down from them were Mr. Pachico and high school principal Gregory Scotten. Mr. Pachico passed miniature Hershey bars around.

Patti Goldberg, wife of sportscaster Ken Goldberg, called out to her own cheering section: "Tastes Great! Less Filling! Tastes Great! Less Filling!"

Don't even ask where that one comes from.

Over at the refreshment stand was a menu foreign to the Bo Schembechlers of the world, but right at home on the Vineyard: Kale and minestrone soup, homemade sandwiches — chicken, egg, tuna, peanut butter and jelly — and homemade baked goods to go with hot dogs, burgers, coffee and hot chocolate. Proceeds from this food, prepared by the families of the junior class, will support the prom this spring.

Island Hot Dog Company competed at a silver stand a few feet away.

Canned goods were collected by radio station WMVY and the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, in the first Thanksgiving food drive, undertaken for needy citizens on the Island and on Nantucket.

The second half was the best part of the day, because that's when Nantucket lost.

By now, everyone pretty much knows this. Everyone knows that in the fourth quarter, Scott Dario, who ran for 65 yards in the second half, scored the clincher from two yards out.

What raucous Vineyard fans didn't spy was how the Nantucketers took it.

Dario has run in for the touchdown. Less than a minute and a half remains in the game.

The view from the Nantucket sideline:

At 1:25 the Vineyard stands erupt in "We're number one, We're number one!"

Coach T dances a wild sideline dance, and players pummel each other's helmets with fists.

Cheerleaders for the Nantucket squad valiantly try another drill.

"Let's go Whalers, let's go! Go, fight, win!"

Nantucket fans are silent and more team members drag themselves to the bench.

One chunky-faced player, whose navy blue cape billows out from his shoulder pads, stands in silence.

He spies a red can of soda, upright, on the ground.

He raises his knee, and in silent wrath,smashes the can with his foot. Soda sprays out in aster-like projections.

One cheerleader, outfitted in blue, suggests another drill to the squad captain, who wears a white sweater.

"No, not that one. 'Cause we're losing," she says.

From the other side, a purple-clad Coach T is all a-swivel.

Thirty-three seconds.

"Get ready to shake hands, gentlemen. Gentlemen, please come over here," says Coach Capizzo.

"I don't want any more helmets thrown around, gentlemen. I want you to shake hands and come back here, please."

Rows of Whalers weave through the herd of fans that have charged the field.

Like rows of teeth meeting in a large zipper, the gloved hands of Vineyard players and Whaler players unite and part. The Vineyarders have shoved Coach T over to the goal posts. He looks all choked up.

"I got up this morning and I had such a peace inside. Vito's a great coach, but I knew this time it was ours."

And later, outside the high school locker rooms, Coach Capizzo good-naturedly compliments the victors:

"I think the Vineyard played a super game. The blocked punt was the turning point. The Vineyard staff played a super game. It was a clean fight, but we're an inexperienced team. We'll be back. Besides, you get to come to me next year."