By Kalina Natcheva, contributing writer

The Nantucket Whalers Football team has returned for their second competitive season since Covid-19 regulations have been implemented, with a stronger drive after each game. As of October 3rd, their team record currently sits at 2-2, and they strive to build momentum, break their even record, and improve as the season progresses. 

This year, the Nantucket Whaler Football team is being led by Head Coach Joe Perry, Offensive Coordinator Tim Psaradelis, Defensive Coordinator Mark Willett, Assistant Coach Beau Almodobar, and Assistant Coach Vaughn Machado. Alongside the coaches, this year’s senior captains consist of Justin Bloise, Caiden Shea, JJ Bennett, and DJ Francis, all of which have stepped up to take the leadership role and guide their team through victories and challenges. 

On Saturday, September 11th, the Whalers hosted their first football game of the season, in which they played the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins. As the team lost last year’s core players, they had to come together and adjust as a team to work harder for their goals. Despite losing the now-graduated seniors, the Whalers’ hunger for success showed as they played to their maximum abilities and were able to seal their first win, defeating the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins 20-12.

Senior Makai Bodden, who contributed two touchdowns and secured the win with an interception during the last few seconds of the game, stated that going into the first game, “my mindset was just to compete to the best of my abilities and when I got on the field, figuring out that the team had the same mindset sparked us all up. We all went out there and played with our hearts, which led to a great team win.” The Whalers’ tough grind was cheered on by many, roars emanating from the student sections of the bleachers, led on by the cheerleaders’ loud encouragement.

As the beginning of the season began with a triumph, the second game ending in defeat was a difficult pill to swallow. The Whalers suffered a disappointing loss on September 17th in an away, non-league game against the Mashpee Falcons. The Whalers were able to stick with the Falcons as they led into the final quarter, as Sophomore Carlos Aguilar managed to score a singular touchdown for the team. Unfortunately, the Whalers could not hold their lead for the duration of the game as they finished with their first loss of the season (28-6).

However, instead of allowing the first loss of the season to discourage them, the team was motivated by this setback; it stimulated their determination for their third game of the season, as they challenged the Nauset Warriors on September 24th. Eager to better themselves from the previous loss, the driven Whalers passionately played together as a team, which ended in another glorious victory. They drove the Warriors home without a single point, closing their second game as a shutout.

The Nantucket Whalers Football team is pushing themselves to improve their skills and efforts after each and every one of their games, as they continue to work towards their goals: both individually and as a collective team. Senior Captain Justin Bloise has contributed to inspiring the rest of the team along with their goals, as he shared, “I am looking forward to winning the league championship at the end of the season. Our team right now is finding our momentum. We still have more work to do but we are definitely getting better and better each week.” The hopes are high for the team and the rest of their season, as players aim for more memorable victories, such as their league championship. 

Before this can occur, the players have to work together as one. Players have realized that their achievements are not all because of one player, and instead they succeed when each player contributes their part when working as members of a team.

Bloise highlighted the importance of each individual, as he emphasized each player’s strength and contribution: “Carlos Aguilar is such a determined player. People don’t realize how hard it is at a young age to play Quarterback. Our offensive line, the way they can make adjustments on the fly is astonishing, they don’t get as much recognition as they should. On the defensive side, Garner Ray- he’s a hit seeker, he flies to the ball and makes tackles. Caiden Shea, Tim Murphy, Sean Murphy and Justin Zadroga- they lead our defense as middle linebackers and outside linebackers, when they fill gaps and play aggressively. On the D-Line, Zavion Stanley, Sawyer Corby, Ian Williams and Jeremy Caspe- they work super hard pressuring the opponent’s QB and tackling the running-backs. JJ Bennett and Makai Bodden on offense- they are players that give 110% and if you give them enough space, there is no possible way that you are catching them.” 

Overall, the players have made it clear that they are completely ready for the rest of their season, with two key factors guiding them: their love for the sport and their determination as a team.

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