Robert Tankard is calling it quits after eight years as head coach of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School football team.
News of his resignation, following a 27-14 loss to Nantucket Saturday, came as a shock to his players, football fans and the high school athletic department.
“I’ve been thinking about it for quite awhile. My wife knew about it and so did my coaches,” Mr. Tankard told the Gazette Sunday. “It has nothing to do with our record this season or the game Saturday.
Personal victories are what Bob Tankard cares about. He relies on them, he says, because they are messages that validate life and each person’s place on earth. Bob Tankard is the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School football coach.
He’s got the winner’s attitude and it just won’t quit.
When Bob Tankard says “I have a firm belief” or when he says “I mean it, I really mean it,” he clenches black hands into tight fists and squeezes his dark, merry eyes shut.
The Island Cup is a treasure shared by two Islands. Though tarnished, occasionally dropped and frequently squeezed, its significance has only increased. For 25 years the cup continues to be photographed, celebrated and coveted by athletes. And tomorrow, when Nantucket meets Martha’s Vineyard on the football gridiron, the cup is up for grabs again.
The Vineyarders chalked up their second win of the gridiron season last Saturday in a clear-cut 36-0 score over Nantucket High School. The regional’s outstanding defensive line, led by co-captain John Bunker, Tony DeBettencourt, Lennie DonAroma and Bob Norton, proved too much for the Nantucket gridders.
Offensively, Vineyarders took most of their yardage through straight drive plays.
The Vineyarders closed out their most successful season to date with a sparkling 5-2 record, beating Nantucket, after beating them soundly the week before on the Vineyard. Gordon Bassett and John Bunker rushed the Nantucket quarterback, Vaughan Machado, in a second period pass play from the Nantucket 30. In a play described by Assistant Coach Francis Pachico as “The most unbelievable play of the year,” Machado threw the ball away, from about his own fifteen. Only he got turned around under pressure, and threw to his own goal line.
The Regional High School football team went down to its fourth defeat of the season Saturday in a game with Nantucket at War Veterans’ Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven. The score was 14 to 8.
Coach Dan McCarthy’s boys did not get themselves warmed up until the second half of the game, and by that time, Nantucket had already accumulated two touchdowns, one in the first quarter when Kevin Thurston ran 19 yards to pay dirt, and one in the second quarter when Larry Lema plunged over the Vineyard line from the 4-yard line.
Having lost only one game out of six this season, the Nantucket High School football team came to Veterans Memorial Park Saturday and added still another victory to its record by defeating the Regional High School team 26 to 0. Nantucket’s power and experience accounted for everything, although neither of those qualities made any real showing until the final quarter, when the Nantucketers really got all gears meshing.
Up until then, the prospective winners were beset by fumbles and penalties, which nipped all but one scoring threat.
As Vineyard coach Don Herman arrived at Nantucket’s football field carrying the Island Cup last Saturday, a couple of fans wearing Nantucket sweatshirts jokingly offered to take it from him. Coach Herman smiled politely, clutched the Cup a little tighter, and kept walking.
Nantucket’s team was finally able to wrest the Cup from the coach’s grasp, but it took all 40 minutes of the game to do so.