That might be the Whalers' biggest asset, after Capizzo. The whole island shows up for home games, of which Nantucket has lost only five in the last 15 years. Even at away games the Whalers feel at home. Legions of Nantucketers trek by plane and boat to road battles. Islanders who can't get to away games listen to them live on radio or watch them on tape delay on the town's cable channel on Monday nights.
How long Capizzo will continue to coach is a topic of intense speculation on Nantucket. He has chronic gout and a herniated disc. He says he's tired of the hassles of being the high school's athletic director as well as football coach, even though he has five coaching assistants. He says he wants to spend more time with his wife, Barbara, an artist who owns a gallery on the island. And though football is still king at Nantucket High, soccer became a varsity sport two years ago and is drawing players away from football.
Whether he retires this year or next, Capizzo knows what he'll miss most: the kids. His office is the school's most popular hangout, for boys and girls alike, because Capizzo is as friendly to students off the field as he is stern with them on it.
"More than anything, Coach is our friend," says John Hedden, a junior tight end. "Sure, he can breathe fire. But you always have that sense that he respects you. And off the field, once you get to know him, he's really a big teddy bear."