Bill Barbour Jr., head coach of the East Hampton High School football team, and an assistant, Jason Menu, remember what it was like the last time an East Hampton team defeated a Southampton one.
“It was a great feeling,” Barbour, who was the center in that game of 25 years ago, said following a recent preseason practice.
“It was a low-scoring mudfest,” said Menu, who played a guard position. “It was fantastic.”
The Southampton-East Hampton rivalry is one of the oldest on Long Island, dating to 1923, and the fact that the Mariners have won many more of these contests than East Hampton perhaps makes it all the more memorable here when the Bonackers triumph. Saturday’s homecoming clash under the lights will be the 50th in the series, which Southampton leads 34-13-3.
Charlie Whitmore, who played on the late Gary Golden’s 1967 team that, while a huge underdog, defeated its South Fork rival 18-13, remembers the entire town turning out to greet the victorious Bonackers. “Everything shut down. People were in the streets, they were kissing and hugging the players. East Hampton hadn’t beaten Southampton in 10 or so years. . . .”
The story, written by the late Howard Swanson, ran on the front page of this newspaper:
“. . . East Hampton trailed 13-12 going into the final four minutes. Southampton covered Rocky Claxton’s onside kick and had every intention of running out the clock, but Bob Peters stole the ball from Joe Shannon, giving East Hampton possession on its 40-yard line. Leon Overton then went to the air and connected with Keith McMahon for a first down on Southampton’s 45.”
“Then Kent Metz rolled for seven, and another Overton-to-McMahon aerial put the ball on the Mariners’ 29. Overton was pressed on the next play, but managed to get a pass off to William Myrick in the left flat where he made a spectacular catch of the sinking ball and raced over three tacklers to give East Hampton the win.”
To honor the ancient rivalry, Bridgehampton National Bank in 1982 began presenting the winner with a handsome silver Hampton Cup that was to be retained for a year by the school that won. Saturday’s game will be only the third such in the past 20 years, Southampton having won 14-8 in 1993 and 28-13 in 2006, the last time, until now, that the Cup was contested, the year before Barbour took over the coaching reins from David MacGarva.
The ’87 game was played in Southampton “in nigh-gale-like conditions, with intermittent rain and cold winds gusting the length of the field up to 40 miles per hour. Punts either traveled 15 to 25 yards or 40 to 50. . . . Mauricio Castillo’s 70-yard quick kick midway through the fourth quarter, which rolled dead on the Mariners’ 8-yard line, was the longest of the day.”
The only touchdown East Hampton needed came late in the first quarter. “With second-and-goal from the Mariners’ 6-yard line, Jamie Grubb passed into the end zone. Michael Sarlo, the tight end, leapt for it near the goal line, but the ball skipped through his hands . . . and into the arms of his teammate Jeff LaCarrubba, who had preceded him. Hank Benzenberg kicked the extra point, which proved to be crucial in the 7-6 win.”
“. . . The decisive defensive play was turned in by Anthony Miller, who, with about one minute left to play, intercepted Bobby Sendlenski on the Mariner 35.”
“When the clock ran out, East Hampton’s bench cleared, and the team’s captain and senior right tackle, David DiSunno, was hoisted aloft to display the game’s trophy, the Hampton Cup.”
A blowup of The Star’s page one photo of joyous Bonackers, the Cup above them and Walter Casiel in the foreground, was put up in East Hampton’s weight room by Menu last spring.
“The kids didn’t know what the Cup was,” said Barbour. “All of them were asking questions. They know now. You could tell by the way they played in the scrimmage with Southampton the other day. It’s a natural rivalry. The kids are buying into it.”