August 30, 2006

East Hampton Football Preview Bonackers Have Size, Speed and Determination

"We've always averaged around 26 players on the varsity," said East Hampton head varsity football coach David MacGarva during an interview conducted after practice last Friday evening. "This year, we're up to 34 players. It's been a good [practice] turnout for the varsity and we have some good returning players."

With more depth than last season, East Hampton will look to improve upon a 2005 season that saw the team go 2-7 overall and with senior veteran leaders like Matt Behan and Matt Brierley returning, there's reason to believe in a bounce-back season for the Bonackers.

Behan, who plays both fullback and inside linebacker is a senior and one of the team's co-captains. According to MacGarva, he's part of the lifeblood of the program. "Matt's a kid who has worked his tail off since day one as a freshman. He's got great speed and he's a tough kid. Last year he did a great job for us."

Brierley, East Hampton's other co-captain, plays both tight end and running back and was also in line to vie the starting quarterback position before a minor knee injury this summer derailed those plans. "Matt was coming on strong towards the end of last season," the coach said. Brierley threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in the Bonackers final game of the 2005 season. "Matt is a great athlete who can play anywhere."

Marley Ficalora, a split end and defensive back, looks to play a major role as do fellow seniors Chris Fitzgerald, a tight end/outside linebacker, guard/defensive end Scott Slevinski and offensive/defensive tackle Thomas Loncar who will also handle the team's kicking duties. Loncar possesses a strong, accurate leg and he's recently been working on his craft with his uncle, a former standout kicker at the University of Maryland.

Senior Heath Heneveld starts at quarterback this season and he appears to be poised for a solid final year on the varsity after suffering a broken leg before the first game of the 2005 season. Now that he is back and healthy, Heneveld will also contribute at defensive back. "Heath has a strong, quick release and he can put good velocity on the ball," MacGarva said. Heneveld will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy next fall. "He has great discipline and smarts."

Seniors Corey Samot (guard/defensive tackle) and standout lacrosse player Zach Brenneman (split end/defensive back), who recently signed a letter of intent to Notre Dame, are both skilled players as is split end/defensive back Chris Pena, a newcomer to the varsity who brings speed and toughness. Sophomore fullback/linebacker Nick Depetris saw varsity action last season and Jarred Bowe, a running back/linebacker also looks promising.

But perhaps the most intriguing player to watch this season is basketball prodigy Mikey Russell, who has the ability to burn defenses with his speed and/or juke defenders out of their cleats with his cutback ability. "At this point and time he's playing halfback for us," said MacGarva. "He's a very good athlete with lots of speed."

There are also no less than 20 players moving up from the junior varsity this fall that are all vying for starting positions, and, according to MacGarva, "they all look very good."

Included in those twenty players are juniors JJ Burke (split end/defensive end), Carson Byrne (tight end/linebacker), Nick Cocucza (running back/outside linebacker), Brent Davis (backup quarterback/ defensive back), Cheyne deSousa (running back/linebacker), James Dowling (fullback/linebacker), Mike Hernandez (guard/linebacker), Dennis Johnson (running back/defensive back), Peter Joyce (guard/defensive tackle), Wally Klugers (tight end/defensive end), Theo Marinescu (center/defensive tackle), Nick Matheson (end/defensive back), Chris Mina (tackle/defensive tackle), Matt Paul (offensive tackle/defensive tackle), Kyle Pomerantz (guard/linebacker), Joseph Quigley (running back/linebacker, Taylor Rogriguez (tackle/defensive tackle), Joe Santacroce (tackle/defensive end), Kyle Siegel (fullback/linebacker) and Brendan Vilar (running back/defensive back). Paul, who is six-foot-six and 275 pounds, attended football camp at Penn State during the summer and Santacroce is another imposing presence on both sides of the Bonackers line (six-foot-three, 245 lbs.). Both players give East Hampton's line much-needed strength and size.

The Bonackers open their regular season at home against Amityville on Saturday September 9 at 1:30 p.m.

"We're hoping that our younger kids step up this season," MacGarva said. "It is a young football team, but there's no reason why we can't be at .500 and possibly knock on the door of the playoffs. You can't teach speed and size and we have both of that…we also have the third component which is determination. This team wants to win. Last year wasn't a good year, but towards the end, the kids were coming on strong. The kids are psyched. They're a close knit team and they work well together."

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