What was supposed to be a celebration of high school football in the Town of Southampton turned ugly under the lights on Friday night.
A brawl between members of the Hampton Bays and Southampton football teams resulted in seven player ejections and, ultimately, a premature end to the game midway through the second quarter, with the Baymen ahead 34-0.
It marred what was another dominant performance by the Hampton Bays football team, which improved to 4-0 on the season and has beaten opponents by an average of 26 points per game, and also outscored its last three opponents by a combined 124-21.
The win put Hampton Bays in third place in Division IV with 120.200 power points, behind Babylon (4-0, 125.200) and Mount Sinai (3-1, 125.000). The Mariners fell to 1-3 with 97.500 points, putting them in a tie for 10th out of 14 teams.
The Baymen celebrated with the Mayor’s Cup trophy after the game, the prize that goes to the winning team when the crosstown rivals face each other. The last time they played was in 2010, when Hampton Bays won 13-6 in Southampton. Before that, the Mariners had housed the trophy since 2005; the Baymen won it in 2004.
In the past, there was a long period of time when the Mariners dominated the matchup, routinely beating the Baymen in lopsided games and enjoying status as one of the top small schools programs in the county. But the tables have turned recently—the Baymen have been a playoff team in the past four years and are enjoying one of the best seasons in program history. Southampton, meanwhile, is going through one of its worst stretches: The Mariners didn’t win a single game last year, and, after beating Wyandanch is this year’s season opener, have suffered three consecutive losses by an average of 28 points.
Hampton Bays head coach Mike Oestreicher said he was disappointed that the brawl took away from what was a big win for his squad. Although most people did not expect the Baymen to have a hard time beating the Mariners, Oestreicher said that the rivalry between the two teams makes it an important game and a coveted victory, no matter what the records are.
Hampton Bays controlled the game from the opening kickoff, scoring two touchdowns in game’s first 74 seconds—a 58-yard scoring run by junior Taylor Catz and, after a fumble by Southampton on the ensuing kickoff, a 27-yard touchdown by Tracey Kennedy. Cody Nolan added a 10-yard touchdown run with 5:49 left in the first quarter, and the lead swelled to 27-0 when Catz ran back a punt 43 yards for another touchdown less than two minutes later.
On the first play of the second quarter, Kennedy scored on a 67-yard run to make the score 34-0. With an Alex Lane run, which ended up being the final play in the contest, the Baymen scored four touchdowns and racked up 319 yards of offense on just nine plays from scrimmage.
Friday night’s conflict took place when Southampton’s Shaundell Fishburne rushed for an 11-yard gain and was hit at or beyond the sideline and ridden out of bounds. The tackler, defensive back Catz, was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul for the hit.
According to eyewitness accounts, he stood up after the tackle and was pushed to the ground by players on the Southampton bench. Two Hampton Bays players came to the aid of their teammate, and it escalated the skirmish.
Oestreicher, who with members of his coaching staff raced from the opposite sideline to break up the scuffle, said that one of his players received repeated blows and kicks to the head. At least one crowd member left the stands and came onto the sideline.
“There was no restraint whatsoever,” Oestreicher said. “That melee was on the basis of an out-of-bounds tackle, which happens all the time in high school football. A 15-yard penalty was going to be assessed, which was fair. It was a good call. The rest of that, my guys had nothing to do with.”
Southampton head coach Edgar “Hikey” Franklin said the personal foul call was legitimate, going as far to call it a “cheap shot,” but expressed his remorse for his players’ actions in its wake.
“Shaundell ran a sweep to the outside, and he was about 10 yards out of bounds when the kid from Hampton Bays threw him to the ground,” Franklin said. “And then all hell broke loose, basically.
“… As a football player, I’m hurt, and as a coach, I’m embarrassed. This is a disgusting display of behavior, and as head coach that comes back on me. They took a cheap shot at us on the sidelines. There’s been tension between Southampton and Hampton Bays for the last few years, and the late hit on the sidelines led to [the brawl].”