By Bailey Lower, contributing writer
The Nantucket Whalers football team has had an amazing season. They finished up the regular season with a record of 5 wins and 2 losses, along with being first in the league. The yearly Island Cup game, a part of the Homecoming ritual on Nantucket, played between the Martha’s Vineyard Regional team and the Whalers, took place on Sunday, October 31. The Whalers were confident walking into the game; their hard work throughout the season and in practices leading up to the game assuring them that they could win. Their determination and attitude paid off, and they pulled off a big win, leaving the Vineyarders in the dust with an impressive score of 27-7.
The coaching staff for the whalers this season consists of head coach Joe Perry, Defensive coordinator Mark Willet, and Offensive coordinator Tim Psaradelis. The captains for the Whalers are Justin Bloise, Caiden Shea, DJ Francis, and JJ Bennett.
In this season so far, the Whalers have played 7 games, where they won 5 and lost 2. Their first game was a home game played against Dennis Yarmouth, where they won with a score of 20-12. After winning their home opener, they had high hopes for the rest of the season. However, they lost the following week on Friday, September 17th to Mashpee. Eager to redeem themselves, they came back and crushed Nauset at home 38-0. They went on to play West Bridgewater, who they lost to in a home game, but after this loss, they dusted themselves off and squared their shoulders, plunging headfirst into training to prepare them for the last three games of the season. They won all three. The Whalers took down Monomoy in a shutout, 14-0.
The penultimate game was against Sandwich, on October 16th. The Whalers triumphed in a high-scoring 34-26 game. It was an intense game, with the win snatched after a drawn-out game that stretched to triple overtime. The Whalers’ 34 points were contributed to by touchdowns from Carlos Aguiliar, Justin Bloise, and JJ Bennett. Sean Murphy was also a key player, ending the game with an interception that gave them the win.
After this game, the team had high energy. They were very motivated to win against the Vineyard after playing the Sandwich game. Their final game was the Martha’s Vineyard showdown. This victory was well deserved by the Whalers. It secured the Island Cup, which has been ours since 2016, for another year. Justin Bloise had two touchdowns, Caiden Shea had one touchdown run, and Makai Bodden had a touchdown reception.
“As we all know the Vineyard is 1-6, but in a game like this the record goes away and the win is determined not just by skill but who wants it the most,” said Bloise. He added that the rest of the team would back him in his assertion that they “play island cups for our community and our coaches who have worked extremely hard to prepare us every week, and to the community of Nantucket for just coming out to support.”
After this stellar season, the Whalers have been placed in the #11 seed for the playoffs and traveled to face against #6 Cohasset in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, November 6th. Though this game was a loss, they are sure that with continued confidence ad grit, they will continue to improve in years to come.