It was a routine Tuesday afternoon on the Vineyarder practice field. Except this week, nothing is routine.

On Saturday, the Vineyarders will take on the Nantucket Whalers. For the 37th time in this storied rivalry, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket will battle for the Island Cup. Those who played in past years, those who coached, and those who sat in the stands will tell you there is nothing routine about that.

“This is the kind of game, history has shown, that somebody on either team has a breakout kind of day,” said Vineyarders head coach Donald Herman. “I’m just hoping it’s going to be one of us.”

This year Nantucket hosts Martha’s Vineyard, with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Vito Capizzo Stadium.

Running back Austin Chandler will need to have a big game against Nantucket. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The Vineyarders come into the final game of the season with a 6-4 record. They are on a bit of a roll, having turned around a losing season by winning the last three games, two of them on the road.

Coach Herman said he is expecting a top performance from senior running back Jacob Cardoza, who has been a force in the running game and returning kicks this season, as well as contributing with key interceptions on defense.

The team will also count on senior quarterback Tucker McNeely for a clutch performance.

“This is his first real taste of the game and the environment,” Coach Herman said.

Seniors Andy and Jimmy DiMattia, twins, along with senior Luke DeBettencourt anchor the offensive and defensive lines for the Vineyardars.

“I really like our line of scrimmage,” Coach Herman said. “We’ve done a very nice job on both sides of the line. If you can control the line of scrimmage, you have a tendency to control a lot of different things.”

Make no mistake, this year’s squad depends on the ground game. Coach Herman mentioned senior backs Ben Clark and Austin Chandler as two other players that will need to play well if the team hopes to bring the Island Cup back to the Vineyard Saturday evening.

Vineyard has momentum winning last three games, but Nantucket is undefeated in league play. — Mark Alan Lovewell

At Tuesday’s practice, Coach Herman seemed to be everywhere at once. Quick to bark a sharp rebuke for a sloppy drill, he is equally quick to offer a word of encouragement, or instruction on particular technique.

“See what you hit, hit what you see,” he yelled in the general direction of a tackling drill.

As the players stepped through conditioning and agility drills, some of them towered over the diminutive coach, but none had any doubt who is the boss when it comes to football.

“Why are we walking,” the coach asked in a voice that prompted every player to break into a trot as they moved down field for the next drill.

This will be his final game as head coach, following 28 years of roaming the Vineyard sidelines, while teaching physical education, science, geography and math at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

He says he hasn’t prepared much differently for the 2015 Nantucket game than he did in the 27 before it.

Wilson Redfield, Elijah Matthews and Zach Rydzewski. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“Just trying to get them ready to go,” he said.

Coach Herman said the Island Cup will be a challenge for his team, against a team that is strong at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

“They just have some very good skill players in those proper spots,” Coach Herman said. “They are athletically talented.”

The Whalers were undefeated (7-0) in their league this season, and come into the Island Cup with a record of 8-2 overall.

The Vineyarders will be supported by a special fan ferry to Nantucket, which leaves Vineyard Haven at 7 a.m. Saturday.

The Vineyarders hold the slimmest of edges in the Island Cup series. Nantucket dominated the early years under now retired head coach Vito Capizzo, winning 10 of the first 12 contests. Coach Herman spent much of the last 15 years evening the record. The Vineyarders have prevailed in the last 11 contests, and won 14 of the last 16.

Tickets for the fan ferry to Nantucket for the Island Cup are available to purchase at the high school front office from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the advance price for walk-on tickets is $30 round-trip, $20 for students and seniors.Vehicle reservations are available for $100 for car and passenger, with space available for 38 cars. All game day ferry tickets are $30 and no vehicle reservations will be sold on game day. The ferry departs at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and returns two hours after the varsity football game is over.