Sports of every kind were front and center across the Vineyard this week — from bars and living rooms where people watched the New England Patriots win the season opener and the Boston Red Sox inch closer to a postseason berth, to the high school athletic fields where several teams started their seasons with big wins.
Last weekend alone, the cross country teams hosted a run through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, the football team played their home opener against Old Rochester and the annual Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ & Girls’ Club golf tournament was held at the Edgartown Golf Club.
After moving to the powerful Eastern Athletic Conference this season, Vineyarders football coach Donald Herman knows wins may be harder to come by, making Friday’s home loss 22-15 to Old Rochester at home all the more frustrating.
Old Rochester is one of the few teams on the schedule this year the Vineyarders have a history with; the two teams have played many close games in recent years, and the Vineyard has consistently come out on top. The last time the Bulldogs beat the Vineyard was way back in 2001.
And though they entered the game with a number of question marks, including new quarterback Randall Jette, many believed this was a game the Vineyarders could have won. But after a back-and-forth battle that featured three lead changes in the second half, the home team came up short on a late scoring drive and lost their first season opener in several years.
“We just didn’t play our best,” the coach said after the game. “If we are going to win these types of games, we have to play better. It’s that simple.”
The Vineyarders jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, thanks largely to the mobility of Jette, who had big gains by going off-tackle and sweeping to the left. Meanwhile Tyler Araujo was gaining yards by pummeling the Bulldogs’ defensive line; he eventually scored on a two-yard run late in the first quarter. The kick for an extra point failed.
On their second possession, the Vineyarders were able to advance the ball to the Bulldog’s 20-yard line, but turned the ball over when Jette threw an interception. They would soon get the ball back, but then lost it on their own 27-yard line, leading to the Bulldogs’ first touchdown.
But in an unusual play, the Vineyarders’ Thomas Tilton-Heylin blocked the kick for the extra point, and the ball landed in the arms of Jette who raced down the field 95 yards into the Bulldogs’ end zone. The bizarre play was good for two points, and the Vineyarders took a slim 8-6 lead.
The Bulldogs’ Miles Hubert soon put his team ahead for the first time with a 35-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs converted the two-point conversion to take a 14-8 advantage. The Vineyarders then launched an impressive drive of their own that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Jette to Lamar Moreis.
The extra point again gave the Vineyarders a 15-14 lead, but it was short-lived, as the Bulldogs stormed down the field in 10 plays to take back the lead at 22-15.
Coach Herman praised the play of Jette, who was only recently converted into a quarterback.
“A few months ago he couldn’t even throw a football — and here he actually threw a touchdown pass. To me that’s impressive. He has a long way to go, but that was pretty good for a first game,” he said.
The coach also credited Tyler Araujo and his cousin Delmont Araujo, who plays wide receiver and defensive end, as well as linebacker Brian Montambault. He said the offensive line, which should be a strength this season, had an off game. “They are an experienced bunch and they need to play like an experienced bunch. I am confident they will improve,” he said.
The Vineyarders are playing at Charlestown tonight; their next home game is next Friday against Coyle-Cassidy.
The girls’ and boys’ cross country teams fared well in the Martha’s Vineyard Invitational 5K race through the State Forest on Saturday. The boys placed second overall and the girls placed fourth.
Max Conley led the Vineyarders by finishing fourth with a time of 18:00, while Willy Nevin finished 11th (18:27), Forrest Harcourt finished 13th (18:43); Cooper Chapman finished 16th (18:50); Michael Schroeder finished 18th (18:55); and Anthony Piland finished 21st (19:09).
Megan Dreyer finished third overall with a time of 20:57; Shivonne Schofield finished 18th (22:39); Julia Sadowski finished 20th (23:48), Caitlin Serpa finished 37th (26:07) and Haillie D’Angelo finished 38th (26:09).
The varsity golf team started the season this past week with a 2-2 record, defeating Somerset and Whitman Hansen while losing to Sandwich and Coyle-Cassidy.
Coach Doug DeBettencourt said this is a hard year to figure. He has an especially young team — eight out of his top 12 golfers are either freshmen or sophomores — and the team is playing its first season in the Eastern Athletic Conference, which is stacked with strong golf programs.
But he is optimistic; his team rolled over Somerset last week by over 40 strokes (264-305) and he likes his team’s balance of experience and youth. He noted the player with the lowest stroke average is senior Grant McCarthy, while the player with the second lowest average is freshman Mike deBettencourt.
“Maybe we’re a year away from a really strong season. But then again, maybe this is the year [for a strong season]. It’s hard to tell. But I like the makeup of this team,” he said.
Expectations are high this season for the field hockey team, which is brimming with talent and experience, poised for a big year.
The team, which advanced to the second round of the state tournament last year, has played only a single game this season, a disappointing 5-1 loss to Sandwich last week (they played West Bridgewater yesterday; results were unavailable at press time), but even in the loss they showed promise.
“Sandwich scored their first five goals in the first half, and I think that bothered the team,” said coach Lisa Knight. “So we buckled down and made some adjustments, and didn’t allow a goal in the second half . . . I think that says a lot about the character of this team.”
Coach Knight said the team is firmly anchored by a group of senior co-captains: Brianna Davies and Gail Herman on defense and Kate Cecilio and Hayley Pierce on offense. The team overall is loaded with seniors, many of whom have been played varsity for the past three years, which leads to great team chemistry and cohesive play.
“We have a lot of players who lead by example, which makes our job easier. The more they play together the better we get,” she said.
Coach Knight is using a two-goalie rotation this season, with Savannah Lawson and Amanda Rose splitting time in the net. Neither has been designated as a starter or backup, and the goalie is chosen on a game-by-game basis, largely dependent on who has the hot hand.
The coach is optimistic the team can again make a deep run into the state tournament.
“We have a great group of girls here. This should be an exciting season,” she said.
The Vineyarders next play at home on Saturday against Westport at 12:30 p.m.