Predictably, things did not go well footballwise here this past Saturday as East Hampton High School finished its regular season with Babylon, Newsday’s top-rated small school team on Long Island.
Yet, despite the humbling 49-7 loss (Bonac’s touchdown was scored in the fourth quarter when the Panthers’ junior varsity players were on the field), East Hampton made the playoffs, with a 3-5 record, retaining the number-eight spot in Division IV that it held going into the game.
Had Hampton Bays defeated Greenport that day, Hampton Bays would have gone, but that game was not played owing to the fact that the Baymen, because of a reportedly violent incident in the team’s locker room in which a player was said to have been hit over the head with a chair and left unconscious, were forced to forfeit.
“We came in ranked number-eight and we’re still number-eight,” was all East Hampton’s coach, Steve Redlus, would say when asked following the game whether he knew any of the Hampton Bays’ incident’s details. “There was no guarantee,” he added, “that Hampton Bays would have won that game.”
Despite the drubbing administered here by the well-oiled football machine that is Babylon, Redlus told his players afterward that they should be proud of two things, primarily, 1. that they constituted the first team since his junior and senior high school years (1994 and ’95) to make the playoffs back-to-back, and, 2). that they had, after losing their first four games, won three in a row.
Thus East Hampton will play Babylon again, in the first round of the playoffs, in Babylon tomorrow at 6 p.m.
Noting that Babylon had become a football power (Saturday’s win was its 20th in a row) despite the fact that it is one of the smallest schools in the county, Redlus told his players in the postgame huddle that he would like to develop a similar tradition here.
And now to the salient details. It took two plays for the visitors, following an East Hampton punt, to put their first points up on the board as Babylon’s quarterback, Nick Santorelli, hit his favorite receiver, Jake Carlock, two times in a row, the latter pass resulting in a 45-yard touchdown reception.
Carlock, according to Newsday, set two single-season records that day, for receptions (34) and receiving yards (606).
Not long afterward, Santorelli connected with Luke Zappia on another perfectly thrown touchdown pass, this time from East Hampton’s 35-yard line.
Following the kickoff, the Bonackers made a serious go at it, with Cort Heneveld, its senior Navy-bound quarterback, doing most of the carrying. That 57-yard, 10-play drive, which ended just shy of a first down at Babylon’s 27, was East Hampton’s greatest thrust until the fourth quarter.
The first quarter ended with the visitors at East Hampton’s 5, and Eric Schweitzer carried the ball in when the second quarter began.
And so it went. By halftime it was 42-0, Schweitzer having scored on a 35-yard pitch and on an 85-yard runback of an interception, and Zappia having scored on a 40-yard scamper up the middle.
“They’ve got everything,” Bob Budd, who has been associated with East Hampton’s football program since the late 1960s, said during the halftime break. “And their school only has 300 students.”
That reminded him, he said, of “Dick Cooney’s first team here, in 1969. We had 13 kids, including the kicker, Porfirio Goncalves. We had to suit up the managers so we would have the requisite number in uniform.”
“We lost our first game 49-0 . . . to Hauppauge. Remember Freddy Bahns? Before every game he’d come to me and say, ‘What am I playing today, Coach? Quarterback, running back, end?’ But the kids were tough — it was a different culture then. We won our last two games, over Riverhead and Longwood. Yes, Riverhead and Longwood. It was a losing team, but it was one of my fondest memories. . . . They hung in there.”
As aforesaid, East Hampton got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, following Babylon’s first punt of the day. Taking over at the 16, Heneveld ran for a first down at the 25, and one play later hit Thomas Nelson with a pass at midfield. Brendan Hughes then ran for another first down, to Babylon’s 33. Facing a third-and-10, Heneveld connected with Nelson again, at the 24. A subsequent sneak picked up the first down, after which Hughes carried to the 5, and Heneveld, after Nelson had gained a yard, ran the ball into the visitors’ end zone. Lucas Escobar added the extra point.