The season for the East Hampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton/Ross and Hampton Bays football teams started just like the pandemic-shortened spring season ended, with a lopsided Bonac victory.
The Bonackers defeated the Baymen, 42-14, at home this past Saturday in what was the season opener for both teams. East Hampton had defeated Hampton Bays, 30-0, on April 10, it’s first varsity victory in four and a half years. The Bonackers wanted to carry over that success to this season and it did.
“Just the way we ended it last year, just totally wanted to build momentum and keep on heading in the right direction, and it couldn’t have been a better start,” East Hampton head coach Joe McKee said after the game. “It didn’t look that way in the beginning of the game. First series we looked horrible offensively and then defensively they just slammed it right down our throats, but we bounced back really nice. We got it together and then moved the ball well.”
As McKee noted, after stopping East Hampton in the game’s opening drive, Hampton Bays drove the ball downfield, picking up the majority of the yards on a long run by junior quarterback Kazmin Pensa-Johnson, and then a pass and catch by Pensa-Johnson and sophomore Patrick Donahue, who capped the drive by punching in a one-yard run. After the extra point by sophomore Eustorgio Urbano, the Baymen held an early 7-0 lead, but that didn’t last long.
On East Hampton’s ensuing offensive drive, junior Finn Byrnes made a few moves and went 37 yards for a touchdown with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Corwin ran in the two-point conversion to give the Bonackers an 8-7 lead. Byrnes found pay dirt again only a few minutes later, this time from 18 yards out, and the rout was on.
A 50-yard run by Byrnes set up East Hampton deep in Hampton Bays territory, leading to a 15-yard touchdown catch by junior Will Darrell from Corwin. A few minutes later, with the Bonac offense back on the field, junior Danny Lester got into the mix, bowling over a pair of Baymen to score. And then just before the end of the first half, Corwin and Darrell connected in the end zone again, this time from 11 yards out.
East Hampton led Hampton Bays, 34-7, at halftime.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Byrnes said after the game. “The energy we bring in practice, I try to lead by example, everyone just stays on par. I don’t see any slacking or anything. Everyone just left it all out on the field. The linemen … I credit everything to them. Defense, I needed to pick it up a little bit, [but] Danny stepped it up, players off the bench, everyone came in, did their thing.”
Byrnes added his third and final score of the game, set up by a long run by junior Aryan Chugh, to open up the scoring in the second half. Marcus Krotman had Bonac’s lone turnover on defense, intercepting a pass in the third quarter.
Hampton Bays senior Logan Grismer recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter that eventually led to the Baymen’s second touchdown of the game, a quarterback keeper run by Pensa-Johnson.
It was a rough way to start the season for Hampton Bays, which is starting basically from scratch after graduating numerous players from last year’s team and has a new head coach in Sean Gil, who has taken over for Rich Doulos.
“Last year with COVID we lost our JV squad. We’re growing our numbers within the program so it’s all about getting better,” Gil explained after the game. “We have a lot of first time players, so teaching them, showing them the game and just teaching them how to work hard, being part of a team and getting better. That’s why showing up to practice, being prepared, having your practices in all is a build up for these games.”
Gil said it wasn’t all completely bad. His team was able to make a stop on the opening drive then see the offense go down the field and score.
“We did a couple of things, but there’s definitely a lot we need to correct, a lot we need to teach up, work on,” he said. “But just continue the effort throughout the game, for sure. We need to continue to motor, continue to learn and just continue to get better.”
East Hampton was in a similar position coming into the game, having graduated 17 players from last year’s, but the same coaching staff led by McKee is still in place. Although numbers on the varsity level are a little lean, the program seems to be on steady ground now and the players, many of whom got their first taste of varsity football on Saturday, are reveling in that.
“Even though it’s my first game I felt confident, especially with the team and the camaraderie that we’ve built through practice and hard work. I feel like this win was well deserved,” Darrell said.
“We spent all week working hard,” Lester said. “Not one guy took a day off to rest or anything. It was hard work all week and it paid off.
“We’ve been grinding since August 17, I think it was, everyday, and it’s just been a great experience,” Corwin added.
Corwin was at the center of East Hampton’s success, leading the team from under center and then as a linebacker on defense. He admitted after the game that he was a nervous on the first play, then once he hit someone he got acclimated quickly.
His teammates appreciated his play.
“I’ve been playing with this kid since I was 5 years old, never been timid, always comes in at a hundred miles per hour and plays his best,” Lester said of Corwin.
Hampton Bays will host Elwood/John Glenn in its home opener this Friday, September 17, at 6 p.m. East Hampton will play at Center Moriches, also this Friday, at 4:30 p.m. The Bonackers had a hard time containing Center Moriches running back Judah Williams, who rushed for 202 yards in last season’s matchup and is back this season for the Red Devils.