Kings Park Packed Punch in Bonackers’ Home Opener

Pete Vaziri’s 95-yard kickoff runback in the second quarter gave East Hampton’s fans something to cheer about. Jack Graves

    Outnumbered, outweighed, and outplayed, the East Hampton High School football team took a drubbing in its home opener Saturday, losing 42-7 to Kings Park, which in turn had been routed the week before by Islip.
    And “drubbing” is not overstating the case: Three Bonackers went down that day, Ryan Joudeh, a running back, by way of a sprained ankle, and two — Dan Barros, arguably the team’s best defender, and Cortland Heneveld, its sophomore quarterback — by way of concussions.
    Barros lay motionless on the field for about 20 minutes in the first quarter as everyone — both teams having taken a knee at the sidelines — waited for the arrival of an ambulance.
    “All of a sudden, winning and losing doesn’t mean anything anymore,” Bob Budd, a volunteer assistant, said when, finally, an East Hampton ambulance took the hard-playing junior linebacker away.
    Heneveld, who was hit hard throughout the game, was decked decisively early in the fourth period, and, though he was able to walk off after some time on the ground, remained dazed and was driven off the field by the trainer, Randi Cherill.
    Later that day, Cherill said during a brief telephone conversation that she’d heard from one of Barros’s parents that he was “okay,” and on Monday Joe Vas, East Hampton’s athletic director, after confirming that both players had experienced concussions, said they were “okay.” They would not be allowed to practice or play again, he said, “until a doctor certifies that they can do so.”
    The injuries — it was the first time in this writer’s memory that two Bonackers were rendered hors de combat in such a way in a game — served to underline the fact that East Hampton, whose squad has been reduced to around 23 players, a half-dozen of whom are said to be new to the game, was overmatched, at least on that day.
    Afterward, Bill Barbour Jr., the head coach, told his charges that he was proud of the way they’d played, despite the odds, and that the way they’d stepped up would prove helpful in meeting challenges off the field in their future lives.
    Kings Park scored right off the bat, recovering a fumble by Heneveld on East Hampton’s first possession at the 20-yard line, and added another touchdown and two extra points before the first quarter ended.
    Barros went down moments after Kings Park’s second score, as Drew Griffiths, who played well on both sides of the ball, was running back the kickoff.
    Griffiths recovered a Kings Park fumble at East Hampton’s 37 early in the second period, but soon after that Heneveld fumbled himself, at Kings Park’s 45, with Luke Toscano, who had scored the visitors’ first touchdown, recovering. Seven plays later, the Kingsmen were in East Hampton’s end zone again, an 11-yard scamper by Tommy Milich, who was to score twice more that afternoon, capping the drive.
    But then, wonderful to tell, an East Hampton moment arrived as Pete Vaziri gathered in the subsequent kickoff at the 5 and, with Barbour urging him to head for the middle of the field, ran it back all the way. Jhovani Hernandez’s point-after kick was good, and, all of a sudden, with the score 21-7, the spirits of the hometown fans brightened.
    Momentarily, that is. Two more touchdowns by Milich were to come, as was one on the return of a Hernandez kickoff that began the second half.
    The fourth quarter was scoreless, though it was notable for the fact that Vaziri was pressed into action as the quarterback after Heneveld was taken to the sidelines.
    Though the visitors had substituted liberally by then, Vaziri directed in the final moments an 84-yard, 11-play drive that ended as Griffiths, who’d gathered in a pass, was hauled down at the Kings Park 8.
    “What a job Vaziri did,” Bill Barbour Sr. said after the teams had shaken hands.
    “You get these lean years, and this is one,” his son said. “But we’ve got a good core of about 10 kids who are showing up for practice and having fun. They worked hard all summer. I hear Southampton is facing the same problem. We’ve had a lot of injuries, guys were playing out of position, but they stepped up. I told them I was very proud of them.”
    The 0-2 Bonackers are to take the field at 7 p.m. Saturday in a homecoming game with 1-1 Eastport-South Manor.