By Bella Cutone
As the Nantucket Whalers Football team take on their 2020 season, they find themselves adapting to a much different style of play. In order for the season to be approved, the team, as well as the rest of Massachusetts, had to make the shift from tackle to flag football. Based upon the current COVID-19 guidelines, a traditional fall football season would have proved to be almost impossible unless played in the 7v7 flag football format. There is hope for a more normal season, as the MIAA COVID-19 task force suggested adopting a fourth high school season known as “Fall II.” This Fall II season would take place inbetween the winter and spring seasons and would include sports such as football and any other sports unable to play also due to the new restrictions. Despite the many changes, the team continues to move forward under Head Coach Joe Perry and senior team leaders, Gannon Mooney, Jack Wilson, and Tyler Anderson.
This season proves to be hard on the team’s morale, as they’ve yet to have the ability to go full pads amidst the many restrictions. Although this may be a difficult adjustment, senior Tyler Anderson states, “our love for the game and our intensity has stayed the same.”
With the absence of standard games, many teams are struggling to maintain a certain level of motivation; however, for the Whalers football team, this has not been as big of an issue. The upcoming Fall II season has been a major motivator for the boys. Many think of this time as their “preseason” and a way to prepare for whatever lies ahead. Mooney speaks highly of the team and believes “we have a great group of guys who can really do something special if we work hard this fall.”
Many common goals amongst the team include a winning season, a strong fight for a championship title, and holding on to the Island Cup. With more time to improve plays as well as technique, the team believes a successful season will be in store by the time Fall II rolls around.
Not only does this time allow for the boys to grow stronger as a team, but it allows for them to grow closer together as well. Many have put a positive spin on the delay of their typical season, viewing it as a time to improve their skills but also a perfect opportunity to build upon their chemistry as a team. Wilson states, “everyone is there for a reason. We all want to play football.”
As well as the addition of flags, the team has had the new addition of many younger players, as the high school team merged with the CPS team. Many of the seasoned players believe this preseason is going to be helpful as the younger players get a feel for what’s in store once they make it to NHS. Not only will the younger players benefit from this, but the team as a whole as well. According to Wilson, “Several players have really stepped up this year,” and a lack of leadership is not a worry for the team.
The team understands that it’s important to keep the morale high, this year more than ever, so many have taken it upon themselves to take on that role. Tyler Anderson puts it best as he said, “this is the closest we currently are to a season, so we want to show the younger kids what Whaler Football is all about.” Although things are different for the Nantucket Whaler Football team, they are giving it all they’ve got, and this is only the beginning of this team’s potential.