Joe McKee, East Hampton High School's varsity football coach, told his players after Saturday's 25-14 loss at Port Jefferson that it was the best they'd played, "by far," this season.
"We were able to move the ball -- the offensive line is much improved," McKee said during a telephone conversation over the weekend. "Port Jefferson has a really good quarterback -- they threw the ball on just about every down, but we made him work for it."
Continuing, McKee said, "They scored first, but we came right back, on a nice drive. Michael Moret ran it in from the 2. . . . They scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. We were able to move the ball, we just made mistakes."
"It was 19-6 at halftime, but we closed to 19-14 on a 40-yard Topher Cullen to Bryan Pannasch touchdown pass and on an extra-point pass from Topher to Drew Salamy midway through the third. With five minutes to go, Topher hit Pannasch with a long pass to their 40-yard line that, unfortunately, was called back because the refs said one of our linemen was illegally downfield. You're allowed three yards; they said he was four yards downfield. We didn't agree, but that's what they ruled, so it got called back. We had to go for it on fourth-and-12, and we didn't get it. So they took over on our 18. There were two minutes remaining and they ran the clock down."
"Kevin Bunce," said McKee, "ran for 80 yards on 14 carries, Hudson Brindle had an outstanding game, with one sack, two interceptions -- really good ones too, one of them a one-hander -- and 15 tackles. And Pannasch, in addition to that 40-yard touchdown reception, had a lot of tackles at safety."
"Port Jeff is a 3-1 team -- we had every opportunity to beat them, but, due to mistakes and to inexperience, we fell a bit short. Still, it was by far the best game we've played."
McKee said he doubted that a postponed game with 0-2 Wyandanch would be played. So, the 0-4 Bonackers are to finish the season Saturday at home with Hampton Bays, "a team that's comparable to us. It should be a good game. We're looking to get our first win. . . . For a team that doesn't have a victory our kids have played really well."
In other action last week, the boys volleyball team, coached by Josh Brussell, won its first game of the season, defeating Comsewogue in three on March 31.
"For the first time we played as a team -- we were supportive and never put our chins down," Brussell said in an email. "As I've said, we have a very young team, but my younger players are really starting to come together. This game was also the first one that I've been able to use the same lineup that had played in the game before. The continuity definitely helped, I think."
Brussell's charges are to get a lot of playing time this week and next. They were to have played West Islip Tuesday, Eastport-South Manor yesterday, and are to play Center Moriches today, home matches all of them. The team is to play at Ward Melville Saturday, at Westhampton Beach Tuesday, and is to wind up the season with Bay Shore on Friday, April 16.
"There is still a chance that we may make up one or two matches at some point as well." Meanwhile, Brussell said, "The future looks bright."
The boys cross-country team, coached by Kevin Barry, was to have had a meet here with Amityville Tuesday. The team went in undefeated and was expected to stay that way. The division meet will be at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park Tuesday.
Three of Barry's top five -- Brayan Rivera, Mikey Gilbert, and Liam Fowkes -- are freshmen. His top runner, Evan Masi, has been rehabbing an ankle ligament tear recently. Diane O'Donnell, East Hampton's girls coach, said during a telephone conversation Tuesday morning that he might be able to come back for the division meet.