Bonac’s 9-Year-Olds Were Pioneer Champs

Christian Johnson, the quarterback, was the team’s M.V.P.
Christian Johnson, the quarterback, was the team’s M.V.P. Durell Godfrey

    The 9-year-old Police Athletic League football team here crowned a division-championship season with a 26-6 win over Three Villages on East Hampton High School’s turf field Sunday.
    “This is the first championship season an East Hampton P.A.L. team has had since the 10-year-olds won two years ago,” said Bob Nicholson, who, along with Andy Baris, Chris Stewart, and Kieran Brew assisted Joe Hren III in coaching the 9-year-olds, who went 9-1 this fall in the Pioneer Division.
    “We started with 23 players and ended up with 18 lean and mean kids who put their hearts into the game,” said Hren, who was happy to report that J.B. Stewart, who “has been running right, left, even backward, but never forward, ran straight ahead on Sunday.”
    While it had been “a total team effort,” Hren said that “Christian Johnson, our quarterback, was our m.v.p., and Jackson Baris was probably our toughest defender. Bob’s [7-year-old] son, Bret, played guard on offense and defense and ran the ball as well.”
    Besides Three Villages, the young Bonackers defeated teams from Patchogue-Medford, Eastport-South Manor, Hauppauge, Westhampton, and Sayville.
    “Most of these teams we blew off the field,” said Nicholson, “except for Sayville [with whom Bonac split wins] and Westhampton.”
    “The parents should be thanked,” said Hren, “for getting their kids to all the practices and games. . . . We practiced three days a week and played on Sundays. We traveled a lot.”
    Hren, who’s going to move up to coach the 10-year-olds next year, said that having six experienced players, some with three years of football under their belts, had been “very helpful. The new players quickly learned from them.”
    “The first few games [with Sayville and Westhampton in particular, teams the Bonackers defeated by 4 and 8 points] were very exciting. I was amazed by the skill level. . . .”
    The second Sayville game, played away on Oct. 30, “had an N.F.L. atmosphere with crowds on both sides of the field yelling under the lights. Losing that game was upsetting, knowing that we could have won, but over all it was a great season of football.”