It’s been an up-and-down season for the East Hampton football team, but thanks to a 28-6 home win over Port Jefferson on Friday, the Bonackers still have plenty to play for with two games left in the regular season.
After consecutive losses to two of the top three teams in Division IV, the Bonackers got back in the win column on Saturday against Port Jeff (1-5), blowing by the Royals with a powerful first-half effort on offense.
With the win, the Bonackers improved to 2-4 on the year, putting them in seventh place in Division IV with 103.320 power points. Undefeated Babylon (6-0, 136.850) sat in first, followed by Mount Sinai (5-1, 133.320), Shoreham/Wading River (5-1, 126.650), Hampton Bays (5-1, 118.720), Stony Brook (5-1, 118.520), Mercy (5-1, 115.390), and Elwood/John Glenn (2-4, 101.850) in eighth. The top eight teams advance to the playoffs. East Hampton is one of five teams with a 2-4 mark, but its strength of schedule has the Bonackers ahead of all those teams based on power points, which consider an opponent’s record when evaluating wins and losses.
The Royals made things easy for the Bonackers early on, fumbling on their first play from scrimmage and handing the ball over to East Hampton at the Port Jeff 20-yard line. On the very next play, East Hampton quarterback Cortland Heneveld ran 20 yards into the end zone. Combined with the Max Lerner kick, the Bonackers were up 7-0 right away.
Port Jeff cut it to 7-6 after a touchdown pass and failed extra point attempt, but those were the only points the Royals would score, as they watched East Hampton rattle off three more touchdowns before halftime to close out the scoring on the day. Danny Barros scored on a 7-yard run in the first quarter, and East Hampton led 14-6 after another Lerner kick. Andre Cherrington and Thomas Nelson also scored touchdowns in the second quarter. Lerner was 4 for 4 on extra point attempts in the win.
East Hampton head coach Bill Barbour was happy with what he saw on Saturday. “Our thought going in was that we wanted to run the ball effectively and maintain possession, which I think we were able to do,” he said. “Our offense played pretty well, especially in the first half. They really didn’t stop us.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t turn the ball over, and that was one thing we did,” Barbour added. “We had one turnover late in the game, but it didn’t affect anything. And turnovers were important for us on defense.”
On the day, the Bonackers recovered two fumbles and had four interceptions. Barros, a linebacker, led the charge on defense with eight tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Chris Melia, Brendan Hughes and Juan Aguedelo also had interceptions.
East Hampton spread the wealth on offense, with four players—Cherrington, John Pizzo, Pete Vaziri and Heneveld—all racking up more than 30 yards in the game. Cherrington scored his touchdown on a 3-yard run, while Nelson scored on an 11-yard pass from Heneveld.
“When you start spreading it out, it makes it difficult for defenses to key on one guy,” Barbour said.
East Hampton will have two huge games to close out the regular season, and their playoff fate hinges on how they perform.
The Bonackers will travel to face Elwood/John Glenn on Saturday. Glenn lost the bulk of its players from its undefeated Long Island Championship team last season and is having a down year by its own high standards, but the Knights are still a tough team. They lost by only three points to Babylon and just one point to Hampton Bays. East Hampton then will close out the regular season at Mercy on October 26, under the lights. The Monarchs have an impressive record but have played a very weak schedule. Aside from their 35-0 loss on Saturday to Shoreham, the Monarchs’ opponents have a collective record of 5-25.
Because the power rankings are tough to predict, Barbour said he isn’t sure what his team will need to do in order to make playoffs. Losing both games likely means the Bonackers will miss out on the postseason, while winning both likely would get them in. He said he told his team that it basically needs to treat the tail end of the season as if every game they play could be their last.
“Heading into Port Jeff, I told the guys that every game we have now is a playoff game,” he said. “Our focus right now is on beating Glenn.”ON THE SCHEDULE: Saturday, 10/20, at Glenn, 2 p.m.; Friday, 10/26, at Mercy, 7 p.m.