Long bus trips up the Island to such schools as Huntington, Amityville, Harborfields, Elwood-John Glenn, and Wyandanch for nine of East Hampton High School’s 24 athletic teams are largely to end come spring, a step long advocated here.
Bill McKee, the varsity boys basketball coach, and Ed Bahns, the outgoing varsity baseball coach, around a decade ago proposed realigning Class A enrollment schools (of which East Hampton is one) so that there would be two Class A leagues, one to the west and one to the east of Route 112.
“It’s ridiculous that East Hampton, which is the easternmost high school in Suffolk, is playing schools like Huntington and Amityville, which are almost in Nassau,” McKee said in an article on the subject in The Star almost six years ago.
To which Bahns added, “With our three-game series, sometimes we’ll be going two times, maybe even three times a week, to schools like Amityville and Harborfields. Once, five years ago, Kings Park came to us. It was an overcast day with a threat of rain, before daylight savings time, and they didn’t get here until after 5. The umpires called the game because of darkness in the bottom of the second inning!”
In announcing the news this week, Joe Vas, East Hampton’s athletic director, said the dividing line in this case would be Route 83 (Patchogue-Mount Sinai Road), which lies not far west of Route 112.
He added that “the teams that are to be affected by this geographical rearrangement will be baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross-country. . . . But all bets will be off as far as travel goes come the playoffs.”
“It saves money on gas, it saves time, and it makes sense,” said Vas in discussing the changes with reporters. The likely opponents of the aforementioned teams would include, he said, Rocky Point (whose 9-through-11th-grade enrollment at present is 796), Westhampton Beach (770), Miller Place (717), Shoreham-Wading River (615), Bayport-Blue Point (579), and perhaps Mount Sinai (620). East Hampton’s 9-through-11-grade enrollment is 676.
The geographical-enrollment realignment would commence this spring, said the athletic director.
As for football, he said he hoped that East Hampton could continue to play in Division IV, as it did this year. Although it was the division’s highest-enrollment school, East Hampton, which had no junior varsity, finished in eighth place among the 14 power-rated teams with a 3-6 record over all.
Vas does not think the program is ready yet to move back up to the black-and-blue Division III, and, consequently, he and the Pierson and Bridgehampton High School athletic directors are about to propose to Section XI that they not be penalized enrollment-wise for combining in the sport. Pierson was dropped at the varsity level this year — though not at the junior high level — so that East Hampton would be allowed to compete in Division IV.
That the seventh and eighth grade team went undefeated this season presumably augurs well for the program — especially for next fall’s junior varsity — though frequently in the past participation in football has waned once members of the 40-to-50-strong junior high teams reach high school.
Vas said, in answer to a question, that he thought the possibility of injury, including concussions, played a part in the thinking of incoming freshmen’s parents and in the advice they gave to their sons.
At any rate, it has been obvious for a while that soccer is the major fall sport at the high school, and, given the middle school and jayvee teams’ results this fall (the jayvee, coached by Steve Tseperkas, lost only one game), it will continue to be so.