While perhaps not a joy forever, Saturday’s high school football game here was, for Bonac fans, a thing of beauty.
On that beautiful day, the Bonackers, playing on all cylinders, routed Port Jefferson 28-6, with all of the scoring occurring in the first half.
The win improved East Hampton to 2-4 in the Conference IV standings. As of Monday, Bill Barbour’s team was in seventh place among the conference’s 14 teams, with 103.320 power points. The top eight are to go to the playoffs.
East Hampton is to play on Saturday at eighth-place Elwood-John Glenn, which is also 2-4. Glenn lost 28-14 this past Saturday to 5-1 Mount Sinai.
At halftime in Saturday’s game here the mood was light as the Bonackers rested in the shade of the adjacent soccer field. Certainly there was every reason to be sanguine, for they’d had their way pretty much throughout the first half, to the delight of themselves and their fans.
When a bystander said to the head coach, “So far, so good,” Barbour reminded him — and moments later his players — that there was “still a half to go.”
As it turned out, however, most everything of note had already taken place. The home team pounced from the get-go as Danny Barros recovered a Port Jefferson fumble around the visitors’ 20-yard line, and soon after the junior quarterback, Cort Heneveld, ran the ball from there into the end zone after faking a handoff. Max Lerner’s kick was good for a 7-0 lead.
Port Jeff replied with a touchdown of its own after Pete Vaziri missed making an interception at East Hampton’s 10. On third-and-goal from the 4, a tall receiver, who’d been hit by Lerner, twisted over the line. The kick failed, however.
From the 34, following the kickoff, Pizzo rushed 20 yards to the Royals’ 46, after which the fullback, Andre Cherrington, made his way to the 39. Vaziri then took off for the goal line spurred on by cheers from the stands. Hearts stopped when he lost control of the ball at the 5, but Vaziri recovered his fumble, giving East Hampton a first-and-goal there. Barros carried the ball in on the next play, to be followed by another successful point-after kick by Lerner.
A fumble recovery by Cherrington at East Hampton’s 45 stifled the visitors’ subsequent drive. After gaining 2, Pizzo zipped to the Royals’ 31, after which Cherrington bulled his way to the 24. With second-and-3 there, Vaziri cut back over the middle to the 16. Two plays later, Heneveld hit Vaziri with a pass at the 3. Cherrington scored on the next play. Lerner’s kick made it 21-6 East Hampton, a margin that while not insurmountable appeared ample.
But just to make sure the visitors didn’t get any ideas, the Bonackers followed up the ensuing kickoff with yet another interception, this one by Chris Milia, who’d slid over from his outside linebacker position, at the Port Jeff 38. Pizzo was dropped behind the line on first down, but with third-and-12 from the 40, Heneveld hit Pizzo with a pass at the 15. Cherrington then carried to the 11, after which Heneveld rolled out and threw a perfect spiral that Thomas Nelson grabbed in the right corner of the end zone.
That evening, during a phone conversation, Barbour said, “Yes, it was a good win. I told the kids afterward that I was proud of them, but that we still had a lot of work to do.” As for the playoffs, nothing was guaranteed, he said, “though this win keeps us in the hunt.”
“The atmosphere was more like a playoff game” that day, he added, because both teams were playing for a possible playoff spot.
Defensively, Barbour couldn’t complain. “Our O-line played well, especially Bryan Gamble, and we made one . . . two . . . three . . . four interceptions. Juan Agudelo made one toward the end. . . .”
While he knew quarterbacks didn’t ordinarily play on both sides of the ball, as Heneveld, a linebacker when he wasn’t quarterbacking, did earlier that day, Barbour said, by way of explanation, “He’s a unique character.”
Barbour said, when questioned, he thought both Glenn and Mercy (in the regular-season finale) were within reach. “Last year, we had no meaningful games. This year, every game has been meaningful, which is great. We’re excited.”