Former Nantucket football coach Vito Capizzo died peacefully on Thursday at age 79, according to social media posts from his son, Scott, on Friday morning.
One of the most successful coaches in Massachusetts history, Capizzo patrolled the sidelines for the Whalers for 45 seasons until his retirement in 2008. His 293 wins are fifth-most all time. Capizzo led Nantucket to nine Super Bowls during his tenure, including championships in 1980, 1995 and 1996 and undefeated seasons in 1966 and 1980.
A protege of legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, walking on to the Crimson Tide squad as a linebacker in 1959, Capizzo also served as athletic director at Nantucket for more than a decade.
He helped create the Mayflower League in 1970, and the Whalers finished atop the Mayflower Large 16 times under his tutelage and held a 17-13 advantage over Martha’s Vineyard in the Island Cup rivalry. Nantucket renamed its football field to Vito Capizzo Stadium in 2009 to honor the coach after his retirement.