NORTH EASTHAM — One of the more challenging seasons the Nauset football program has had to endure in recent memory ended with a 14-0 loss to visiting Dennis-Yarmouth on Thanksgiving morning at Nauset Regional High School in North Eastham.
Like many teams based on the Cape, the Warriors struggled with their numbers this year and only had three seniors on their roster. Although the team finished with an 0-9 record — it defeated Martha’s Vineyard, 24-6, on Oct. 15 in a game that was considered a scrimmage for standings purposes — Nauset head coach Bruce Strunk said he was proud of his players for battling until the end.
“It’s been a long year,” Strunk admitted. “You can’t worry about the kids who didn’t come out this year, you can just focus on the kids who did. We had to forfeit three games because of low numbers and all, but we made it to the end and I’m extremely proud of this group.”
The Warriors hung tough with the Dolphins in the 25 th edition of their Chowder Bowl Thanksgiving rivalry until deep into the fourth quarter, when the visitors took a 6-0 lead following a 2-yard touchdown run by senior Jaden Moore. Moore tacked on another 2-yard rushing TD later in the quarter to lift D-Y (5-5) to victory.
Strunk said his defense was exhausted by the time Moore found the end zone.
“Our defense was on the field a long time in the second half and they finally punched one in,” he said. “But you know, we’re proud. We have an extremely young team and were playing with a lot of kids who should be in JV games. They played hard and they overcame.”
Senior Chad Caramanna was named Nauset’s Offensive Most Valuable Player in a postgame ceremony at midfield, while junior Corey Vendetti earned the team’s Defensive MVP honor. Moore received D-Y’s Offensive MVP recognition and senior Levens Louis was the team’s Defensive MVP.
As challenging as this season was for the Nauset players, Caramanna said he and the Warriors still had fun during the rebuilding year.
“This isn’t the first loss that we’ve taken — we had a lot of tough losses this year,” said Caramanna, a North Truro resident. “But I can say that we didn’t play one game without trying as hard as we could. That’s all that matters. We had fun and we’re building for the future. I can’t wait to come back next year and see us beat D-Y.”
That sense of building for the future was one common theme that stuck with the Warriors throughout the season. The team boasted multiple freshmen in its starting lineup — a unique aspect of this year that should benefit the team in future seasons once those underclassmen gain even more experience.
Strunk noted one challenge with playing such a young lineup, however, is that you don’t want them to get accustomed to hard times.
“It’s tough because sometimes when you take it on the chin, you take two steps back,” he said. “As a head coach, when you have a team this young, the biggest thing you have to watch out for is you don’t want your kids to learn how to get beat up. You have to be able to keep them fighting and they fought today. For us to fight into the fourth quarter like we did, we came a long way.”
The players returning next year are already expecting the young squad to be improved.
“We’re going to have a lot of not-so-young guys anymore,” said Vendetti, a Brewster resident. “We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores starting, so they’re going to have step up. I think it’s good because a lot of them played in the JV games and the varsity games, so they got two games in one week. That amount of football — not just being in a practice — it’s good for them to get their feet wet.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal