Daylight is on the wane, temperatures are dipping and beaches are emptying, but on the high school athletic fields the fall sports season is just starting to heat up.
As one Vineyard sports fan put it this week, “The leaves are turning, the busy season is over, and there is high school football on Saturday and the Patriots on Sunday . . . not to mention the Red Sox are going to the playoffs . . . it’s the most magical time of the year.”
The football team on Saturday defeated Lee High to go 3-0 and remain undefeated on the season, the golf team has now won five matches to up their record to 9-2 and the boys’ soccer team added a pair of wins to run their record to 5-1-2.
After scoring only two touchdowns all season, the Vineyarders’ offense came alive against Lee High on Friday as the visiting team rolled over their largely unknown opponent from western Massachusetts by a final score of 32-20.
The Vineyard defense, which held opponents scoreless over the first two games, finally gave ground and allowed touchdowns in the second quarter and two more in the fourth. But the offense more than made up the difference and could have scored as many as 50 points if not for a costly penalty and three fumbles, including one in Wildcat territory late in the game.
Coach Donald Herman said the offense and defense both played well.
“I think we played well in many areas — offense, defense and special teams — especially considering it was a long bus ride and we didn’t know anything about Lee. This was a good test,” he said.
Things didn’t look so rosy early on when the Vineyarders fumbled the ball from the scrimmage on their first offensive play of the game. But the defense responded and held the Wildcats on their first drive and Josh Paulson then scored on the first play of the drive to give the Vineyard an early 7-0 lead.
Zach Coutinho, who later kicked a 24-yard field goal and was perfect for the day, kicked the extra point.
Lee High scored on a long drive beginning from their eight-yard line early in the second quarter but failed to convert the extra point, which allowed the Vineyarders to hold a slim 7-6 lead. Later in the quarter, quarterback Mike McCarthy hit slashing wide-out Michael O’Donaghue in the flat for a touchdown.
When the Wildcats lined up for the extra point, the Vineyarders noticed a weakness in their formation and called for an audible. Catching their opponent off guard, McCarthy slipped a pass over the line to Paulson to give the Vineyarders a two-point conversion and notch the score at 18-6 going into the half.
Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter before Paulson took a Wildcats punt at the 46 yard line and followed a line of blockers into the end zone for a touchdown, which effectively put the game on ice.
Paulson had a stellar game, finishing with 246 yards, 117 on the ground, 59 through the air and 70 on kick returns. McCarthy also had a strong day at quarterback, going 7 for 10 with 124 yards and a touchdown.
“We hadn’t called on him that much this season, but he really responded. [McCarthy] has a good arm and makes good decisions . . . he can be a real asset to the team later on,” Coach Herman said.
The Vineyarders next play at home against Littleton High School today at 5:30 p.m.
It may be only four weeks into the season, but the Vineyard golf team has already earned its ticket into the state tournament, largely thanks to a recent five-match winning streak. Over the past week, the team has notched wins against Sturgis, Seekonk, Falmouth, Fairhaven and Wareham. They were slated to play on the road against perennial powerhouse Bourne (who are 11-1 for the season) yesterday, although results of that match were unavailable at press time.
Coach Doug DeBettencourt said his team is clicking on all cylinders. They had a big test this week when they had to play against Wareham and Fairhaven without their number-one golfer Tony Grillo, who could not attend because he was visiting colleges.
The team stepped it up in Grillo’s absence, especially Henry Smith and Sam Scott who each shot under 40 for the nine-hole course. But Coach DeBettencourt shared the praise with all his players, including Gus Hayes — usually slotted as the team’s number six or seven golfer — who has lost only one match all season.
“The whole team has played consistent. We’re going to have to play well as a team heading into the tournament . . . I think we’ve proved to ourselves we can do that,” Coach DeBettencourt said.
After going undefeated for the first third of the season, the upstart boys’ soccer team dropped its first game, losing a heartbreaker to Fairhaven on Monday in front of a small but hearty home crowd.
With the loss, the Vineyard boys’ record fell to 5-1-2 for the season, still impressive.
After winning a dramatic game against inter-Island rival Nantucket last week — perhaps their best-played game of the season — the Vineyarders seemed to have a bit of a hangover at the start of Monday’s game.
“They were a little flat out of the gate . . . which I guess can be expected after such a draining win against Nantucket,” said coach Bob Hammond.
The Vineyard boys scored the first goal of the game when sweeper Nico Cuba took an assist from Leondro Trindade ten minutes in to make it 1-0. They then had several chances to pad their lead, but continually struck the ball directly at defenders or turned the ball over deep in Fairhaven territory.
On defense, they had no answer for Tyler Blanchard, who scored twice in the first 20 minutes and wound up scoring all three of Fairhaven’s goals for the game. Cuba scored a goal for the home team on a nifty half-bicycle kick about midway through the second half to make it 3-2, but the Vineyarders failed to push through a tying goal in the closing minutes.
Coach Hammond said his team seemed a little tentative on offense and never recovered on defense after falling behind by two goals.
“[Fairhaven] came out swinging and it kind of caught us off guard — we weren’t able to create a lot of scoring opportunities and when we did we sort of tightened up and didn’t take the shot,” he said, adding:
“But this is a talented and resilient team . . . you’re going to have games like this throughout the season when you just come out flat . . . but we will bounce back.”