“They began to come alive in practice this week,” Bill Barbour Sr. said following Saturday’s 39-17 loss here to Mount Sinai, which his son, and head coach, Bill Jr., had described as “arguably the best team in the league.”
Yes, it was a defeat, but the Bonackers’ heads were not bowed. They’d given it their all, and their spirits were high throughout the fray.
“It was a great game — I’m proud of them,” the younger Barbour said afterward. “They didn’t back down; it was a loss to build upon.”
Some key players, including two linebackers, Jamie Wolf and Colton Kalbacher, were out that day, but their replacements stepped up.
Things didn’t begin well. Mark Donadio broke up the middle for a 74-yard touchdown on the game’s first play, and Pete Vaziri was rocked by an onrushing Mustang as he gathered in the subsequent kickoff. But one play later, Vaziri, after receiving a pitch from Cortland Heneveld, East Hampton’s quarterback, reeled off 21 yards for a first down at the visitors’ 49-yard line.
The drive ended one foot shy of another first down, at the Mustangs’ 40, but it was clear then that however things went, the Bonackers had come to play.
Near the end of the first quarter, following Mount Sinai’s second TD, East Hampton drove down to a fourth-and-goal at the 7, at which point Max Lerner, whose kicking has been one of this season’s highlights, came in to kick a field goal.
East Hampton went into the halftime break trailing 26-3, though the team came out fighting in the third.
From Bonac’s 25, Heneveld passed incomplete for Thomas Nelson to lead it off, but Nelson grabbed Heneveld’s next aerial at the 45, igniting the crowd, after which Johnny Pizzo zipped up the middle to Mount Sinai’s 35. Following another incompletion, Pizzo ripped off more yardage before slipping at the 23. With second-and-9, Heneveld found Nelson with a pass in the end zone, the latter easily outreaching his defender in the right corner.
Lerner’s point-after kick was good for 26-10, and a moment later East Hampton had the ball again, on Mount Sinai’s 35 following an onside kick by Lerner that Nelson leapt high to grab after the ball had traveled the requisite yards.
A defensive pass-interference call on fourth down gave East Hampton possession at Mount Sinai’s 22. Heneveld then ran the ball down to the 15 for a second-and-3 there. Andre Cherrington, the senior fullback, bulled his way up the middle for a first down at the 12. And then Heneveld hit Pizzo with a pass at the goal line.
Bonac fans standing at the fence near the parking lot said later they thought Pizzo had broken the plane before being stripped of the ball, but it was ruled a fumble recovery.
Mount Sinai took over at its 4-yard line, and on the next play Michael Cortese took off up the middle, on the way to what seemed would be yet another Mustang touchdown. But Lerner brought him down at midfield, jarring the ball loose, and Danny McKee, who was subbing at linebacker, recovered the ball at Mount Sinai’s 42, giving Bonac fans a chance to cheer loudly again.
They were to groan, however, just a moment later, when Cherrington, after bulling his way to the 25, was stripped of the ball as he was tackled. On the next play, Donadio said “adios” again. His 75-yard TD effectively clinched it for Mount Sinai.
With many subs playing, each team scored once in the fourth. East Hampton’s score was the result of a 26-yard keeper by Heneveld, capping a 72-yard drive.
During the postgame huddle, Bill Barbour Jr., who, as aforesaid, was upbeat, told his players that the Port Jefferson game (here on Saturday) “is huge for us — we need all hands on deck. Mount Sinai is arguably the best team in the league. I’m proud of you guys. We made some mistakes today, but we can learn from them.”