Missing a starting longsnapper for any game is not ideal, but when it’s wet and rainy like it was on Thursday, March 18, when the East Hampton/Pierson football team hosted Elwood/John Glenn, it makes things even more dire.
The Bonackers (0-2 League VIII) were missing their usual hiker due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols, and sure enough, that wound up having a profound impact in what ended up being an 18-8 loss, dropping them to 0-2 on the season.
Barely 24 hours after the loss, East Hampton learned that Wyandanch, whom it was scheduled to play at this past Monday, had one of its players test positive for COVID following its game against Hampton Bays, therefore postponing the matchup between the two teams. Instead, East Hampton will now prepare to play at Center Moriches this Friday, March 26, at 4 p.m.
East Hampton head coach Joe McKee said the postponement was unfortunate as he was looking forward to playing Wyandanch and possibly getting the team’s first victory in four and a half years. He said the plan is to have to game rescheduled to later in the season, if possible.
But last week, it didn’t take long for the snap infractions to begin. Just a few plays into the game, a bad snap eluded East Hampton’s punter, giving Glenn prime field position to start its first offensive drive of the game, which it eventually capitalized on with a touchdown to go up, 7-0. The Knights then quickly added a safety to make it 9-0, then another bad snap on another Bonac punt attempt gave the Knights another opportunity to score, which it did with a field goal. Right out of the gates, East Hampton trailed 12-0.
From that point on, though, things settled down. East Hampton was able to put its best offensive drive of the season together, which resulted in its first touchdown of the season when senior Kevin Bunce scored from 15 yards out. Senior quarterback Topher Cullen then took the ensuing two-point conversion into the end zone to make it a 12-8 game at half time.
Continued snap infractions, along with some penalties, continued to halt any type of offensive rhythm the Bonackers could get it in the second half. Still, McKee, his coaching staff, and the players like the improvement they saw from their first game, which was a 37-0 home loss to Babylon.
Bunce finished the game with about 70 yards rushing on offense and he made nine tackles on defense. Santi Maya had an interception and Pierson’s Hudson Brindle led the defense with 10 tackles. First-year player Jeremy Webb had two tackles for a loss.
“The kids’ spirits are real high,” McKee said. “The coaching staff saw a lot of improvement that we’re really happy about. We weren’t able to throw the ball in the weather conditions that we had, so we simplified things, for sure. We changed some of our blocking assignments and went to a two-back offense with Kevin [Bunce] and [Richard] Barranco. And that was having some success.”
McKee said Barranco, a Pierson student-athlete, will be lost for the next six to eight weeks — essentially the rest of the season — due to a broken ankle he suffered while making a long run. Barranco also made a good pairing with Bunce as linebackers on the defensive side of the ball and was the team’s leading tackler.
“He’s a hard worker, and as great a player he is, he’s just as nice a kid, a solid gentleman, and we’re certainly going to miss him,” McKee said.