In all four games this season, the East Hampton football team has held a lead, only to give it up and suffer what would end up being a lopsided loss. It was more of the same on Saturday, in the Bonacker’s 35-14 loss at Center Moriches.
Just seconds into the fourth quarter, East Hampton was still in the game, having scored when Jordan Johnson took an option pass from quarterback Cortland Heneveld 22 yards up the sideline. After the successful extra point, the Bonackers trailed by just a touchdown with 11:17 remaining in the game.
Center Moriches, though, dominated the rest of the quarter. Tyrell Thomas hit John-Cody Cerverizzo on a screen pass that Cerverizzo took 55 yards for a touchdown. Then, just minutes later, after East Hampton turned the ball over on downs, Clarence Trent ran 17 yards for a touchdown, creating the final margin of victory for the Red Devils, who were celebrating Homecoming.
“That’s been kind of the synopsis for our season,” East Hampton first-year head coach Steve Redlus said after the game. “We just haven’t been able to finish or maintain or hold on to the lead.”
Redlus thought that last week’s double-digit loss at Elwood/John Glenn had a lasting effect on his players, and it led to a poor week of practice. “After last week, I think we were a little down mentally, and we had talked about all week how we need to practice harder,” he said. “You can’t win the game on Saturday, you win it Monday through Friday, and I think that cost us this week.”
East Hampton (0-4 in Division IV play, 92.7 power points) held the lead after the opening drive of the game. After using a mix of run and pass plays to get down the field, Heneveld rolled right outside the pocket and hit Thomas Nelson for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 6:51 remaining in the first quarter. Juan Gomez added the extra point to give the Bonackers a 7-0 lead.
But from that point forward, Center Moriches scored 21 unanswered points to take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter. The Red Devils offense goes through its quarterback, Tyrell Thomas, and even though he injured his hand early in the game, limiting his ability to throw the ball, he used his legs to beat the Bonackers. Thomas finished with 158 yards rushing on 14 attempts, 98 yards passing, and three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air.
“He’s a phenomenal talent, an unbelievable athlete,” Redlus said of Thomas. “We were going to make him beat us running the ball—that was our plan originally. Then, when he couldn’t throw, we were going to [have] four guys play pass and bring everyone else after him. I think it worked—we just didn’t make tackles when we needed to. He’s slippery, he could bounce, he could move. He’s a great athlete, and it showed today.”
There were a few positives in the loss for East Hampton. As a team, the Bonackers rushed for more than 200 yards. Heneveld led the team with 112 rushing yards, while Johnson and Alex Alanis combined for another 107 yards. Nelson led the team in receiving with four catches for 42 yards, and on defense he also had five tackles, an interception and broke up two passes. Danny McKee had seven tackles, and Colton Kalbacher had five tackles and also forced a fumble.
Redlus said he was happy with the way his team rushed the ball but thought his team could have been better in the passing game. A lot of the problems, he said, are due to growing pains. “We’re just a very young team,” he said. “We have sophomores all over the place, and they’re going to play for us and they’re going to make mistakes. That’s what we have to deal with.”
Redlus will be eying his first win as head coach on Saturday night, when East Hampton hosts Southampton at 7:15 p.m. in a battle for the Hampton Cup. Last season, behind a 21-point first quarter, the Bonackers handled the Mariners with ease, 42-7, which brought the Hampton Cup back to East Hampton after a 25-year absence. Southampton (1-3 in Division IV, 90 power points) is coming off a tough home loss to Stony Brook.
“We want to hold on to the cup,” Redlus said. “Some of these guys’ fathers played for the cup, and we want to keep the tradition going.”