October 11, 2006

Bonackers Grill Sharks For First Win

By Rich Smidt

They're going to have to start inventing new sports at which Mikey Russell can excel.

On Friday, the standout basketball player, who has quickly become the standout football player for the East Hampton sports program, used his speed and athleticism along with an uncanny ability to leave defenders clutching at air on his way to a memorable night.

When the final whistle had sounded, East Hampton had its first victory of the season and Russell had totaled 133 yards rushing on only 14 attempts; an impressive average of 9.5 yards per carry while providing the late game heroics when he took off on a 39-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. The touchdown snapped a 7-7 tie and proved later to be the winning score as the Bonackers defeated Eastport/South Manor 14-7 in front of a large crowd at Eastport High School. Russell also had a 63-yard run called back after a holding call.

"He's just a great athlete," said East Hampton head coach David MacGarva. "Mikey was cutting on a dime, making great decisions with his runs and he got a lot of first downs for us. He's got great vision out there. We also got great blocking from our line which freed up big holes to run through."

When Russell wasn't frustrating the Sharks' (0-5) defense with his blazing speed and shiftiness, Bonackers running back Matt Behan was busting through Eastport's defensive line and shedding linebackers en route to an 18-carry, 109-yard evening. Behan scored the first points of the game in the second quarter when he ran six yards to the end zone to put East Hampton (1-4 in Division III) ahead 7-0 following Thomas Loncar's successful extra point kick.

"For two backs to run for over 100 yards, it means that our offensive line was doing a great job," MacGarva said. "They made some great blocks. We haven't moved the ball that well in awhile. And when your line plays that well, you usually win."

The Bonackers line, which on Friday included tight ends Carson Byrne and Zach Brenneman along with linemen Joe Santacroce, Matt Paul, Scott Slevinski, Mike Hernandez, and Theo Marinescu, pushed Eastport's defenders up and down the field with little difficulty. Running back Joe Quigley also made several outstanding blocks to open holes for Russell to run through.

Eastport's only offensive threat in the game occurred during a special teams play when the Sharks returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown following Behan's score in the second quarter. East Hampton's defense clamped down from the opening minute where it held the Sharks offense to negative yards after the Bonackers lost a fumble at their own 30-yard line on the game's first possession.

Eastport was held to a mere 63 yards of total offense by a swarming, blitzing East Hampton defense that was led by Marinescu (game-high 10 tackles, 2 sacks) and linebacker Jarred Bowe, who registered 8 tackles. Bowe currently leads the team in total tackles.

"We played very well both offensively and defensively, said MacGarva. "Eastport had been scoring points [in their games this season] and our defense really stepped it up. We held their quarterback to only three completions and they couldn't run the ball on us . . we just stuffed them."

East Hampton also moved the ball well through the air with senior quarterback Matt Brierley, playing the position for only the second time this season, completing four of the five passes that he attempted for 104 yards. One of his attempts was dropped. Brierley brought a roar from the crowd when he displayed a cannon-like throw in the waning seconds of the first half; a throw that went some 50+ yards into the swirling wind for a completion to Zach Brenneman.

Brenneman managed to get to the Sharks' one-yard line before time expired. "It was a perfect pass and it looks like Matt is finally getting comfortable back there. He threw the ball very well," said the coach.

MacGarva's team was sparkling when they had the ball, totaling 385 yards of offense; their highest total of the season. "It was a huge win for us…we were struggling and we needed it. It was a great night."

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