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Sep 10, 2019 9:36 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Football Falls To Port Jeff In Season Opener

Hampton Bays quarterback Lucas Brown awaits the snap, with junior fullback Jacob Tuttle by his side. CAILIN RILEY
Sep 11, 2019 10:39 AM

The roster for the Hampton Bays football team reads mostly juniors and seniors, a fact that would indicate the Baymen are experienced this year. The team also has more depth than it has had in years, with 29 players on the roster — a good sign for a small school in an area where several other small programs struggle to field enough players for both a JV and varsity team.

But a good portion of the players on this year’s team are new to varsity, even among the senior class, and that inexperience showed in a 47-6 loss to Port Jefferson in the Division IV opener in Hampton Bays on Friday night.

The Baymen, ranked 10th out of 12 teams to start the season, were facing a talented and experienced Royals team, which was ranked fourth to start the year.

Hampton Bays went down 20-0 early, but with 9:48 left in the first half, the Baymen put together a nice drive, getting to the Royals’ 16-yard line after a few strong runs by tailback Quinn Smith and some nice scrambling out of the pocket by quarterback Lucas Brown.

But a fumble by Smith was picked up by the Royals, and carried back nearly the entire length of the field for a touchdown, giving the Royals a 27-0 lead and killing any momentum Hampton Bays had picked up.

The final gut punch of the half came on the final play, when the Royals scored on a long catch and run with just three seconds left on the clock. The two-point conversion failed, but they still led, 33-0, going into the locker rooms.

It was more of the same to start the second half. Hampton Bays fumbled the ball again on the first play after the kickoff. Port Jeff recovered the fumble, and two plays later had scored again, going up 40-0 after a successful extra point kick, with 11:07 left in the third quarter.

Head coach Rich Doulos acknowledged that the Royals were a strong team, but said he and the players were still disappointed after the game because they had hoped to be more competitive.

“It was tough afterward because we had higher expectations,” he said. “We knew Port Jeff had a good quarterback and a good nucleus of kids from last year. But things got down pretty quickly.”

The Baymen will face another perennially strong team this Friday when they get on the bus to face Babylon. While the Panthers aren’t quite as strong as they’ve been in years past, they are still a powerhouse team, ranked fifth in the preseason.

To have a better result against Babylon, Doulos said his team would need to play cleaner, faster football. “We made a lot of mental mistakes,” Doulos said. “I don’t know if it was just jitters, but the good news is that it’s all fixable.

“We have a lot of kids who are new to football and to the varsity level,” he continued. “I think the speed of the game was a lot faster than they thought. We talked about how we need to play faster in our practices.”

The Baymen offense showed signs of life in the game, but just didn’t have the consistency it needed to put serious points on the board. Smith, a senior, had 11 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown, while Brown, also a senior, picked up 33 yards rushing, but had only 31 yards passing on what was a windy night.

Junior Dakota Thompson had five tackles and a sack, while junior Kevin Posada had six tackles.

Despite the mistakes the Baymen made, which contributed to the lopsided score, Doulos said he wasn’t unhappy with the players afterward.

“We’re not upset with the kids’ effort,” he said. “The effort and desire was there, but the execution wasn’t.”

Doulos also pointed out that Port Jeff quarterback Sam Florio also set the tone for the game for the Royals, and was tough to handle.

“Arguably, the best athlete on the field beat us,” he said. “That happens sometimes. He was the best player on the field.”

It’s a bit of unlucky scheduling to have two of the top teams in the division right off the bat to open the season, but Doulos didn’t indulge in complaining about that.

“They’re winnable games,” he said. “We go in with the attitude that every game is winnable. We just need to eliminate the mental mistakes and make sure we’re going full speed in our practices.”

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Babylon on Friday night.

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