By Will Harris
Unlike the other fall sports, the football team is expecting to have a regular season this winter, so the boys could treat this fall as more of a preseason to prepare for the much anticipated winter. Coming off a stellar season, falling just short of a conference championship, the Whalers will look to mirror that success and build upon it.
This opportunity to play in a real season is something football is lucky to have, and a chance that many athletes in any sports wish they had. However, it is not a guarantee. A large enough spike in Covid cases at an inopportune time, similar to what Nantucket is experiencing now, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving, but near the start of the season, could still kill the Whalers’ chances of playing in a more traditional season. While some worry that with such a full-contact sport, any season will inevitably be dangerous as long as Covid remains a factor, others argue it is worth it, because of the tradition and what it means to the athletes. They point to events like the Island Cup, traditionally a game played between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, as honored traditions that would be lost if Covid prevented a true Football season.
When asked about the benefits that the team took from last year’s playoff exit, Jack Wilson stated, “Having that playoff experience, especially that late in the tournament, was crucial for the development of the underclassmen. Next time they are in that moment, they will be prepared.” Losing key-contributors such as Devonte Usher, Torane Burton and Darian Duarte from last year’s team will be hard to overcome, but fresh new talent and leadership from seniors Malique Bodden, Gannon Mooney and Jack Wilson will help the cause.
Although the Whalers would have loved to play a more traditional fall season, especially the seniors, there is no denying that the flag football season that took place benefited younger players. Many freshman and sophomores who wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity usually, were able to show their skill sets to older players and coaches.
When asked about this topic, Gannon Mooney stated, “It definitely helped our younger players to be able to play with the older, more experienced players. I saw teammates Garner Ray and Sean Murphy develop nicely during flag football.”
After a couple of competitive months of flag football, “the blue team” led by Justin Bloise, Tyler Anderson and Jack Wilson came out victorious. Bloise, along with superstar brother duo, Makai and Malique Bodden, will look to lead a versaille offense this winter. Darian Nangle and Kenard Liburd will fill the hole left at running back and should be well prepared from their years of experience in the system. The boys will face familiar league foes such as Sandwich, Mashpee and Martha’s Vineyard and will attempt to continue their regular and postseason success this upcoming year.