East Hampton High School Athletic Diretor Joe Vasile-Cozzo on Thursday announced that his school will not field a varsity football team for the coming fall season, citing low participation numbers at the summer program.
“Due to the lack of participation East Hampton will not field a varsity football team this fall season,” Vasile-Cozzo said in a statement posted on the Bonac Football Facebook page. “We are planning on fielding both JV and middle school teams with the hope of having enough kids who are interested in participating. The summer program has had very low participation numbers. The district and I along with Coach [Joey] McKee will continue to evaluate the status moving forward.”
East Hampton, which up until a few years ago hosted Pierson athletes interested in playing football, did not compete at the varsity or JV level last fall either. But after petitioning Section XI, the governing body of high school athletics in Suffolk County, to allow the program to compete against lower-enrollment schools in Division IV, parents, coaches and potential players decided they would try to return to competitive football.
East Hampton is technically supposed to play in Division III alongside some of the top football programs on Long Island, but earlier this year McKee and Vasile-Cozzo met with parents and players and decided the best route was to ask for placement in Division IV, even though it meant there would be no possibility for postseason play. Their request was granted and McKee went about forming an off-season program with an eye on returning to competitive play this coming fall.
Vasile-Cozzo has also expressed a desire to break from Section XI altogether and form an independent league with other schools struggling to maintain a competitive football program.
Pierson football players now compete at Southampton High School, which has also struggled to keep up with participation numbers in recent years.