The final game of the season for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School football team on Saturday offered plenty of excitement for the homecoming crowd, as the Vineyarders rolled over Brighton by a final score of 41-8.
It was a satisfying win for players and coaches — as well as the approximately 500 fans in the stands. For the past 50-plus years the Vineyard has played Nantucket the weekend before Thanksgiving, but this year the opposing players were dressed in Brighton’s red and yellow instead of the Whalers’ customary blue and white.
There were still pep rallies and bonfires before the game, and decorations were hung in the school hallways.
Brighton players and coaches arrived on the Island on Friday, and stayed with the families of Vineyard players. That night the Vineyard Touchdown Club served both teams dinner, and players and coaches were served breakfast on Saturday morning by the club.
Coach Donald Herman said having a final home game meant a lot to his team, as well as the Island. “Plus it was senior recognition day, and it was also the homecoming game . . . there was a lot we needed to do,” Coach Herman said.
Coach Herman brought back the homecoming game tradition after taking the job nearly 20 years ago. At halftime of Saturday’s game the nominations for homecoming king and queen were named, and the winners were announced at the homecoming dance held later that night. But of course the main focus of the day was football.
Junior quarterback Randall Jette had perhaps his best game of the season, rushing for two touchdowns, throwing for another and recovering a fumble on defense late to seal the win. Lamar Moreis also had a strong game, rushing for a touchdown and returning a kickoff 90 yards for another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Vineyarders scored first when Moreis scampered for a 10-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. Jette then ran for a 25-yard score later in the quarter, before connecting with Delmost Araujo on a 15-yard touchdown pass later in the second quarter to give his team a 21-0 lead at the half.
The Vineyarders didn’t let up in the second frame; Jette scored on a 57-yard touchdown run, followed by a one-yard touchdown run by Josh Baker, and the home team was up by 35-0. Coach Herman began to empty his bench, and Brighton’s Olumide Olukoga scrambled from three yards out to put his team on the board in the fourth quarter.
Moreis capped the Vineyarders scoring with a spectacular 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
The Vineyard finished the season with a record of 7-3, an impressive feat considering all the team went through this year: it was the first season in the Eastern Athletic Conference, widely regarded as tougher than the Mayflower League, and the team was hampered by illness early in the year when flu hit the regional high school. And then there was the cancellation of the storied Island Cup game.
“I told the team this week I was as proud of them as I was of any other team that won a championship. Considering all the ups and downs, these players had a tremendous season — especially the seniors. I think this team overachieved, and that is what any coach wants,” Coach Herman said.