The night of March 12, 2020 was a cold, windy evening. It was also the night the Whaler football team began their “fall two” season against the Mashpee Falcons and the ominous conditions foreshadowed how the night would go for Nantucket. The Whalers were soundly beaten 43-0, picking up just two first downs in the game.
Tonight the Whalers have a chance to even the score when they travel to take on the Falcons at 4:30 pm. The Whalers are coming off a strong defensive performance last week against the Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins and are hoping it carries over to tonight’s matchup.
“Last year is last year but we need to move on and I think we have a pretty good football team this season,” head coach Joe Perry said. “There is no doubt about that in my mind. We need to win an away game. Mashpee is always a good football team and they are always contenders. We have to bring our A-game every snap.”
Running back/wide receiver Justin Bloise has been waiting for this rematch since March. He was knocked out of the last game against Mashpee early on by a big hit, which left him with a concussion.
“I feel like I need to bounce back for my team and help us get this win after last year,” Bloise said. “We are a band of brothers. I am really hungry for this win. We need to win every rep and every quarter. We can definitely beat this team. They have a lot of skill, but we have skill players too.”
“We need to go out in the first quarter and win it,” Bloise added. “Mashpee is a very hard-hitting team. They are fast, they are hungry, and I would call this a big rivalry game. The Vineyard is always number one but this has to be number two on my list.”
Bloise said there will be no hesitancy in his game despite last year’s injury. He said he has 100 percent confidence in his offensive line to create running lanes and quarterback Carlos Aguilar to throw a good ball.
“My offensive line, man, I love those guys. I love them a lot,” Bloise said. “They are my brothers and in my opinion it is one of the best lines in the Cape and Islands league right now. I can’t get in the endzone or gain yards without them. Then Carlos does a great job of reading defenses and getting the ball to myself and our other playmakers. He is a beast. I’m happy he decided to play (football) again this year after not playing his freshman year.”
Senior linebacker Caiden Shea and senior strong safety Garner Ray will both be making their season debuts after missing the opening game with injuries, Perry said. He added that slotting both players into the lineup will keep his two-way players more fresh for four quarters and add experience to the lineup.
“Having Caiden Shea and Garner Ray back will help out those two-way guys a lot,” he said. “Then with Justin and Makai (Bodden) at the corners I think we can take away their passing game. If we can get (defensive ends) JJ Bennett and Jeremy Caspe to continue their play on the edges and not let the Mashpee quarterback get outside them we will see what happens, but we should have success.”
Bodden (two receiving touchdowns) and Bloise (one punt return touchdown) were responsible for all the scoring in the last week’s game. But both players played a strong defensive game as well.
Bloise had four tackles while Bodden had one sack and the game-sealing interception. Perry said both players will need to continue their strong play on both sides of the ball if the Whalers want to hold off a Falcon team that is expected to be hungry for a win after losing their opener on the road to the Norwell Clippers 32-24 last week.
“We need to execute some misdirections and some fakes with Justin to draw the defense towards him and open up something else for our offense,” Perry said. “We need to be physical in the trenches. That is where it all starts.”
Perry knows physicality won’t be an issue for the Falcon’s offensive and defensive lines. While Mashpee head coach Matt Triveri couldn’t be reached for comment prior to today’s game, Perry said Mashpee is built around a strong front four and linebackers that can take over a game if the Whalers aren’t careful.
“Their middle linebackers will definitely wreak some havoc if we let them but defensively we can play some smash mouth football too,” Perry said. He added that the message to his team all week has been consistency and with Aguilar healthy and ready to go after missing two quarters Saturday with an injury he sustained in the middle of the game, Perry thinks his team will have a better four-quarter offensive attack.
“Every down and every play is going to count for these players but also on my side and with me personally too,” Perry said. “I need to be making good decisions on when to go for it, when to punt, when to kick. It could be a little chess match. I need to put these kids in a position to win. We won last week but I don’t know if I did that against D-Y.”
Bloise said he and the rest of the team enjoyed last week’s win but added they have put it behind them and aren’t satisfied.
“When we won last week we were all excited to be 1-0 and that we broke that streak where we always lost first games every year,” he said. “But of course we have been watching film, practicing, and we know Mashpee is a really good team and aren’t satisfied at all. We might be 1-0 but that can easily turn to 1-1. It can also easily turn to 2-0. We just need to go out and play hard. Coach has been putting 43-0 everywhere and keeping it in our heads. We are ready to go.”