From the Oct. 9, 1953 edition of the Gazette:

If anyone needed proof that a football team could be created within a space shorter than a year, he got that proof on Saturday afternoon when the Martha’s Vineyard football team made what may be rightly called a worthy showing in its first game, in spite of its loss to the powerhouse team from Ashland High School.

The score, which was 27 to 6, may be the thing that will count in the record book, but it cannot possibly indicate the history of the Island’s first game.

The outcome, as far as most of the fans were concerned, was not as important as were the actions that went on during the game, which mounted steadily in climactical fashion to the final quarter, when the threatening power of the Vineyard team became a reality. By quick work in recovering Ashland’s fumbled ball, followed by a succession of passing and line rushing plays, the Vineyard team crossed over into pay dirt for the first official time in its career.

During the remainder of the time in that final quarter, the Island team clearly demonstrated that it was rapidly becoming a knowing bunch of boys in the ways of the game. The huge number of Vineyard rooters became heartened at the prospect, as did a certain number of the large delegation from Ashland. The crowd of spectators, which lined both sides of the field and which seemed more engrossed in watching the mechanics of the game than in the contest, was to a large degree as new to football as were the members of the Island team itself.

Although the Ashland fans had become somewhat conditioned to victory after their team’s fifteen consecutive wins, the excitement of the Vineyard fans was contagious enough to make the latter part of the game a spectacle in spite of the lack of balance in the score.

After a perfectly natural case of jitters during the first quarter of the game, the Island boys settled down to play what can be described only as an exceptionable first game.

The tackling was decisive and the fumbling was not only held to a minimum but was completely non-existent. Out of eleven passes attempted, the Island boys completed eight, an average not to be sneezed at by even the most seasoned of teams.

Under the competent captainship of John Morris, the individual players displayed their abilities as members of a coordinated unit, Glen Hearn’s proficiency at calling the plays, John McBride’s outstanding kicking, Herbert Combra’s, Steve Parker’s and John Coutinho’s aggressiveness on the defensive and Don Amaral’s and Charles Downs’ last ditch tackles that prevented a number of touchdowns by the other team.

Outstanding on the defense also were Bill Merry and Martin Davey, and on both defensive and offensive Matthew Perry showed ability. Leigh Carroll played a plucky defensive game with a bad leg. John Downs and Steve Tilton played the entire game without substitutions. And Dave Clark’s center work was performed without a hitch.

Pleased with the showing of his boys, one of the coaches, John Kelley, summed up the game by saying, “We made many errors but the boys were trying. As the game went along they picked up and they showed a desire to play the game. I’m sure we’ll improve greatly as the season goes along.”

The Ashland team piled up most of its score in the first half of the game while the Island boys were getting used to the idea of competitive football. After the half-time period, there was a definite change in the air, and Ashland found that the going wasn’t quiet as easy as it had been.

It was in the final quarter that the break came the Island’s way and the local boys took admirable advantage of it. Ashland had marched deep into Vineyard territory when the quarter began and was close enough to the goal line to begin to smell a touchdown. But the fragrance vanished under the excellent last ditch defensive work of the Island team, and the visitors lost the ball on the downs.

The Island team then kicked the ball to get themselves off dangerous ground, and Ashland once more had possession, this time midway the field. They held it only briefly, though, for Louis Goodwin recovered one of their fumbles and the home team began to march down the field.

In the next play John Downs failed to complete a pass, but a penalty of five yards was put on the Ashland team for delaying the game. Then a reverse play with McBride carrying the ball brought the Island team to the front door of the goal line. Taking the ball from Hearn, Morris then made a sweeping run for a touchdown.

The Islanders attempted to fake a kick for the extra point and run for the goal line but failed to crash the Ashland line.

After the kickoff, Ashland took another deep plunge into Vineyard territory, but was stopped by the Islanders, who got the ball and began to press the other way. The Ashlanders were pretty nervous about another Island touchdown when the final whistle blew.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox