On Friday night, as a crescent moon hovered over the bleachers at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, coach Donald Herman stood cooly on the sidelines along with his players, many of whom towered over him in their purple jerseys and white helmets.

By the end of the first quarter, the home-team bleachers were filled with fans all huddled together in sweaters and jackets for the homecoming game against Brighton. Others stood near the end zone where the smell of popcorn surrounded the touchdown club booth. Many wore their purple high school athletic jackets from years past.

It was Mr. Herman’s final homecoming game after 31 years as a head coach and 28 years at the regional high school, where he also has taught earth science, geography and other classes. He often pushed his players to excel not only on the field but in the classroom.

Players, families and booster club members throughout the years paid tribute at halftime. — Mark Lovewell

“It’s an end of an era,” said Kevin O’Donnell, class of 2010, who stood near the end zone in a purple jacket with 2007 embroidered on the back. “He just knew the game so well, and knew how to motivate us all — hit harder, run faster. Even if we wanted to dog out and give up he’d make sure we stayed on the field and got the job done.”

Lila Norris, a sophomore from West Tisbury had similar praise for Mr. Herman, who she knew as a gym coach her freshman year. “He’s kind of tough but he’s really nice,” she said. “If maybe you’re having a tough day and you’re really tired, he’ll listen.”

“He runs the whole gym and the whole homecoming thing, so it will be weird next year when he’s not there,” she added.

Earlier in the day, students had gathered for a pep rally to honor Mr. Herman, who was recently inducted into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association hall of fame — one of many honors and achievements over his career.

Many people remember the personal difference he made in their lives. Theodore DeBettencourt, class of 2001, had traveled from Boston on Friday to join other former and current players in honoring Mr. Herman at halftime. The former captain recalled getting kicked off the football team his sophomore year for drinking, and Mr. Herman’s encouragement to “work hard, keep working out, and come back and try out next year.”

Mr. DeBettencourt and his former teammate Kyle Crossland carried a 1999 championship banner across the field at halftime, along with many others who held banners of their own.

Parents, coaches and athletes filled the bleachers, where bunches of purple and white balloons were tied, and cheerleaders led calls from the ground.

Austin Chandler comes up big as Vineyard crushes Brighton 49-6. — Mark Lovewell

At halftime, with the Vineyard ahead 36-6, cheerleaders from both schools performed on the field, under a thin layer of fog that appeared in the floodlights. The announcer then called attention to Mr. Herman’s many accomplishments — including five state super bowl victories and several coach-of-the-year awards — as players took the field with their banners.

The coach stepped onto the field and raised his hat to the cheering crowd. He turned and bowed to the players on the field, with his hands outstretched. Then, even before the cheering had died down, he ran back behind the bleachers to be with his team and prepare for the second half.

As the second half continued, children shouted and played behind the bleachers, chasing each other up and down the metal ramps, and occasionally going down with a hard tackle. Fans warmed themselves with hot chocolate and by cheering on the players. And under the Friday night lights, Coach Herman’s final high school team performed the way he had taught them.

Final score: Vineyard 49, Brighton 6.