By Drew Budd Oct 28, 2013 2:45 PM
Behind two kickoff returns and an interception for touchdowns—all by senior Brendan Hughes—the East Hampton football team won, 33-12, at Wyandanch on Saturday afternoon, making it the first time since 2009 the Bonackers have won three consecutive games.
The victory, coupled with a Hampton Bays loss at Mount Sinai on Friday night, has put the Bonackers in playoff contention. Heading into the final week of the regular season, East Hampton sits in the eighth and final playoff spot in Division IV, but the Bonackers face their stiffest competition to date when they host Babylon this Saturday at 2 p.m.
A loss to the Panthers would mean the Bonackers would need Hampton Bays to lose again to Greenport on Saturday afternoon, for them to get in. If East Hampton (3-4 Division IV, 97.34 power points) upsets Babylon (7-0 Division IV, 145.91) this weekend, it could possibly jump to the seventh seed in the division.
Redlus spoke to his team briefly after Saturday's victory about the upcoming game with Babylon. "I said listen, ‘They are the best team in the division, they are one of the best teams in the county, one of the best teams on Long Island and probably one of the best teams in the state,'" he told his players. "It’s a great test for [our players] as an individual and as a football team. Our goal is to make each play individually, one at a time and go from there."
East Hampton came into Saturday's game at Wyandanch down a few key players due to injuries and academic ineligibility. Also, some players, such as seniors R.J. Notel and Lucas Escobar, woke up at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning to take the ACTs at Ross. They both got to the game a few minutes before it started and literally dressed themselves on the field. But East Hampton seemed to be on its game from the opening whistle.
On the opening kickoff, Hughes went 99 yards for a touchdown, Escobar came on for the extra point and the Bonackers led 7-0 just 16 seconds into the game. Later in the quarter, East Hampton senior quarterback Cortland Heneveld connected with senior Thomas Nelson on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 4:31 left in the first quarter. Nelson made a nice move near the sideline to avoid being tackled before crossing the goal line. After a botched two-point conversion, East Hampton led 13-0.
Wyandanch was able to break into the end zone with 12 seconds left in the first half, but on the ensuing kickoff, Hughes ran the ball 85 yards for another touchdown, and after Escobar's kick, the Bonackers led 20-6 at halftime.
Hughes said on both kickoff returns that there was a nice, open seam up the middle that he took. "There was great blocking by all the guys," he said. "A good job by everyone."
Wyandanch opened the second half with a 10-minute drive that ended in a touchdown and the only score in the third quarter. Down just eight points and the ball on their own 20-yard line, the Warriors were looking to tie the game when Hughes intercepted a pass in the flats and took it back for a touchdown. It was a big play that took any chance of Wyandanch making a comeback.
"It meant a lot since it was three straight," Hughes said of the win. "Our defense was pretty good. It was good to come out with a win."
Heneveld added another touchdown later in the fourth quarter making up the final score.
Heneveld finished with a team-high 87 rushing yards while Notel, the latecomer, had 72 yards rushing and eight tackles on defense. Notel joked after the game that it was interesting getting to the game after taking his test.
"I was antsy the whole time," he said. "I was trying to get out of there. I was talking to the proctors, asking if they could hurry up a little bit. My dad drove pretty quick. He was weaving in and out of traffic. [We] got here in an hour and 10 minutes maybe."
Because it was so windy at Wyandanch, East Hampton didn't really plan on throwing the ball. Heneveld's touchdown pass to Nelson was the only completion for the Bonackers. Danny McKee, a senior, had nine tackles and two passes defended, junior Jorge Calderon had eight tackles and Nelson intercepted a pass as time expired in the second half.
As for the injuries and academic ineligibles heading into this weekend, Redlus said both cases are day-to-day.
"They can improve their grades and come back, and then the injuries, once they get cleared by the doctor and trainer, they’re ready to come back," he said. "So it's going to be a day-to-day thing and we'll see if they can come back this week."