Vineyarders lose a wild one, 30-24, to end gridiron season

Head Coach Herman ponders return.

Coach Herman talks with his team during a time out during recent action. — Ralph Stewart

The Vineyarders and the David Prouty High School (Spencer) Panthers put on an offensive fireworks display last Saturday in their season-ending games before Prouty barely survived a last-minute Vineyarder drive to prevail, 30-24.

The teams combined for nearly 650 yards of total offense in this barnburner. The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Purple amassed a season-high 328 yards on the ground, including three touchdowns and 158 rushing yards for senior Gabe Brito, and 149 yards and one TD for senior Jayden Coyle.

Adding to the drama is whether Herman will return next season. He was the Vineyarder head coach for 28 years before retirement in 2015, then returned to right the ship four years ago. This season was the 40th coaching campaign for the 63-year-old Herman. “I take it one season at a time. Review the situation at year-end, and that’s what I’ll do this year,” he told the Times on Sunday. Herman will make his decision known soon, likely at the Booster Club annual football banquet on Dec. 13.

The thrills on Saturday began with the opening Panther play (a trickeration 62-yard TD pass), and the excitement kept coming until the final whistle, when the MVRHS offense had the ball on the Prouty three-yard line and a fourth and 2 situation with 20 ticks left. The Purple’s snap exchange went bad, and the play went for no gain. Prouty took the ball and the contest. The Vineyarders ended the season at 2-7, and Prouty, at 6-5.

“In a lot of ways, that game was like our season,” a fairly upbeat Herman said on Sunday. “We did a lot right on Saturday, but just enough wrong [penalties, special team miscues] to lose,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what. For fans — and for us coaches — it was a fun, exciting game to be part of,“ he said, adding, “This team has fought and competed all year. They never quit.”

Indeed. The Vineyarders led briefly in the third quarter (18-16), but struggled to rein in the pass-heavy Panthers. The Vineyarders were without starters T.J. Lett and Hiaggo Goncalves (second half) in their secondary. Prouty had three passing TDs (62 yards, 21 yards, and four yards) as part of their 260 yards in the air, and picked at the Purple secondary all day. In fact, sophomore defensive back Gerry Kane led the Vineyarders with eight tackle credits on Saturday. Harper Hearn logged a sack among his seven tackles. Luke Baldwin got the Vineyarder game MVP with an interception and six stops. 

“When you get 328 rushing yards and score in every quarter, you’re supposed to win, but kickoff coverage issues and penalties on the defense led directly to two Prouty scores when we would have had the ball on downs,” Herman said.

Herman said a key to 2022 is how his young squad (24 of the 37 were underclassmen in 2021) will handle the off-season. “That will determine our success next year. We were physically dominated a lot this year, and time in the weight room is the cure,” Herman said.