The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) held it’s last EAC football game Friday, resulting in a gripping loss against Taunton’s Coyle-Cassidy. Still, spirits were raised right off the bat in an exciting first half. The first two plays of the game resulted in a touchdown for each side, both occurring in the first several minutes.
In the first play, Vineyard quarterback Zach Moreis ran 30 yards before dropping the ball, which was then immediately recovered by John Morris who ran it 20 yards into the end zone. Within minutes, the Warriors would retort with a 75-yard pass by Benjamin Vaz to a wide open Tyler MacDonald, who left Vineyarders in the dust running into the end zone for a touchdown. MVRHS was quick to follow with a 65-yard touchdown run by Zach Moreis, ending the first quarter with a score of 14-6, Vineyarders ahead. So far, the game was defined by big plays and lots of action.
Vineyarders were halted by penalties for the rest of the game and by a touchdown that was called back in the second quarter. This was due to a illegal man downfield penalty, which MVRHS coach Ryan Kent later described as a “bogus” call. “That might have clipped a little momentum there,” he told the Times after the game, referring to the lost touchdown.
Coyle-Cassidy gained serious momentum in the second quarter, scoring twice and ending the half with a 8-point lead. The Warriors’ Matt Flynn blocked Hoffman Hearn’s punt leading to a one yard touchdown run by QB Jackson Murray. With one minute left in the half, Christian Sotello put Coyle ahead with a 50-yard punt return.
The score was close until the bitter end with the Warriors ahead, 22-14. With only seconds remaining, however, Coyle-Cassidy scored another six on a two-yard touchdown run by Jackson Murray, securing their 28-14 victory, and a place in the postseason.
Coach Kent felt proud of his team nonetheless, noting their hard work and confidence throughout both halves. “There were a lot of momentum swings within the first and the second half,” he said. “I really felt like we had this one won. At half time I felt totally confident, and so did the kids. We played a good football game, that’s a pretty decent team, the ball just didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
At halftime, the team honored Norman Vunk, a well-loved MVRHS sportscaster who passed away in August of this year. Mr. Vunk’s family members were invited onto the field as former long-time football coach Donald Herman, and Ken Goldberg, who Mr. Vunk worked closely with in covering high school sports games, gave heartfelt speeches honoring Mr. Vunk’s dedication to the team and love for high school athletics. Mr. Vunk’s voice was then cast over the crowd as announcers streamed clips of some of his most famous lines from his sportscasting days, such as, “that’s a snot-ringer, baby!” which drew warm laughs from the crowd. Game staff and fans were wearing t-shirts which said, “Say Goodnight Norm,” on the back, a signature sign-off of the broadcast. “A true Vineyard sportsman,” Mr. Goldberg said. “Whether it was on the golf course, on the basketball court, or in the broadcast booth, Norm was Martha’s Vineyard all the way.”
Friday marks the end of an era for the Vineyarders, who will not play in the Eastern Athletic Conference next year. The team will play Sandwich High School this Friday, October 27, at 6pm, and for the following 2 weeks, they will play opponents selected by MIAA. The 39th Island Cup is scheduled for Saturday, November 18 in Nantucket.