It wasn’t a score-fest like Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets, but the regional high school football team’s 7-0 win over Old Rochester in the home opener Friday was equally impressive.
The Vineyarders’ defense shut down the potent Bulldogs attack, while the offense did not turn the ball over all game.
But for coach Donald Herman, it was a case of good news, bad news. Although he was satisfied with the win over Old Rochester, fast becoming a nonleague rival, the game also demonstrated that the team needs to improve in many areas — especially on offense.
“The defense played solid all game. But there are some things on offense we need to improve upon; for starters we need to block better. It was a good win, but we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
The seven-point win was the largest margin of victory for the Vineyarders over the Bulldogs in Coach Herman’s career. Last year, the Vineyarders eked out a 17-15 win in Old Rochester in the season opener; every time these two play it seems to go down to the final play.
“They play us tough every time. They have a college-style offense and can really light it up [through the air] . . . so it’s really something that we shut them out. Our secondary did a great job,” Coach Herman said.
It looked at first like Friday’s game would be a shoot-out rather than a defensive shoot-down, as Bulldog running back Franck Tebou took a hand-off on the first play of scrimmage and sprinted down the sideline for a 50-yard gain.
But the Vineyarders buckled down and stopped that drive, as they would for the rest of the game.
The Vineyarders secondary — led by Jawan Johnson, Ben Rossi, Nick Gross and Nick Fogt — completely shut down the Bulldogs passing attack. Rossi had an interception late to seal the win, and Gross recovered a fumble late in the second quarter to set up the Vineyarder’s only score.
After recovering the ball around midfield, quarterback Mike McCarthy passed off to running back Matt Lucier on perfectly-executed option play. Lucier scored from 14 yards out and fellow senior Zach Coutinho added the extra point.
Lucier, who will see more time in the backfield this season with the departure of Allen Fortes and David Amabile, finished the game with 75 yards in 12 carries. In keeping with a Vineyarder tradition of using several running backs, Josh Paulson pitched in with 68 yards and Erik Doliver added 28 yards on the ground.
The Vineyarders drove the ball inside the Bulldogs 30 yard line several times in the second half, but were denied the end zone each time. Two drives were stalled by penalties — one a questionable flag for an ineligible receiver down the field — while another drive stalled when the Vineyarders failed to convert a short pass in the flat.
Coach Herman said his team must capitalize on these types of scoring opportunities late in the game.
“We can’t let good teams hang around in the third and fourth quarter down by a single score. We had chances to put the game away but we just didn’t execute; we can’t make mistakes and expect to win these games in the future,” he said.
The Vineyarders face another tough opponent on the road this weekend in Carver High School, a team coming off a big win against Apponequet that will also be seeking a measure of revenge against the Vineyarders after they thumped them at home last year by a score of 44-25.
The game is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and will be broadcast by radio station WMVY at 92.7 FM.