BONACKERS 33, MONARCHS 14
As much as a team can try to prepare for a triple-option offense, there’s nothing quite like facing it in a game.
During their 6-1 start in Division IV, McGann-Mercy never faced a team that runs the triple option, where a quarterback must make a read to either run the ball himself, hand it off or pitch it to the outside.
The East Hampton Bonackers have run the offense behind quarterback Cortland Heneveld all season, even if the results haven’t always been spectacular. But then again, facing teams like Babylon and Mount Sinai can make any offense look inferior.
During practice this week, Mercy coach Jeff Doroski worried about his team’s ability to stop the option. Friday night, his fears became reality.
Heneveld ran for three touchdowns — including a pair of 65-yarders — to lead the Bonackers to a 33-14 victory over Mercy in the final home game of the season for the Monarchs.
“If we gave them space to run around and weren’t disciplined, I figured we might run into a situation like this,” Doroski said. “We got to regroup. All year these guys have bounced back when they’ve seen a little bit of adversity.”
The Monarchs came into the day just a fraction behind Hampton Bays in the power rankings for the fourth playoff seed. A win could have propelled the Monarchs ahead of the Baymen, who must play 6-1 Mount Sinai Saturday.
Instead, the Monarchs (6-2) will finish as the five seed, or possibly the six seed. The likely first-round matchup will be at Hampton Bays, a team the Monarchs did not face this season.
While a disappointing way to close out the regular season on Senior Night, Doroski tried to find the positives for his team.
“We didn’t go out the way we wanted to,” Doroski told his players, “but we finished 6-2 with the best record since like 1976. And you’re going to the playoffs.”
The Monarchs will hope to have running back Reggie Archer back by then. The Monarchs’ top rusher all season, Archer was injured during practice this week. Doroski said Archer got hit during a special teams drill and hyper-extended his knee.
Archer warmed up before the game to possibly try to play on defense.
“He just didn’t feel real comfortable, so I said it’s not worth putting him out there if he’s not ready to go,” Doroski said.
The Monarchs are hopeful Archer can return for the playoffs next week.
East Hampton coach Bill Barbour said he had no idea Archer might not be available for Mercy until the game started.
“I hope he’s all right,” he said. “He’s a great running back. We would have like to have played him.”
In Archer’s absence, senior Tom Kent got the majority of carries on offense. He rushed for 102 yards on 19 carries.
While Archer would have been helpful on offense, the Monarchs’ biggest issue early on was their defense. The Bonackers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, capped by an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Pete Vaziri that made it 26-14 midway through the second quarter.
The score remained the same until Heneveld scored his second 65-yard touchdown with 3:05 left in the fourth to seal the victory. He finished the day with 234 rushing yards on 16 carries. He threw only two passes the entire game and completed one for three yards.
“With our offense if we grind it, grind it, grind it, occasionally you hit one,” Barbour said.
The game got off to a dizzying start as East Hampton quickly jumped ahead 12-0. Mercy answered with an 11-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from senior Paolo Foscolo.
East Hampton immediately answered when Heneveld scored on the first play of the Bonackers’ next possession when he faked out the entire defense by appearing to hand the ball off, only to keep it himself and take it up the left sideline for a 65-yard score.
Mercy fired back with a 42-yard touchdown from quarterback Asaiah Wilson to Foscolo, who caught a pass in the flat and ran it up the right sideline. Wilson ran in the 2-point conversion to make it a 19-14 game.
Again, the momentum was short-lived as East Hampton returned the kickoff for a touchdown.
For a team that came in with a 2-5 record, the Bonackers are a battle-tested team. They’ve faced the top three teams in the league, as well as defending Long Island champion John Glenn, all of which resulted in losses.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that we had that type of schedule,” Barbour said. “It helps to prepare us for a physical contest. When we get into these type of games, I feel like it’s an opportunity for our kids to let it loose a little bit.”
East Hampton clinched a playoff spot with the win and is likely headed to Babylon in the first round.
To open the third quarter the Monarchs drove into the red zone, only to stall at the East Hampton 9-yard line. The Monarchs turned the ball over on downs with a chance to make it a one-score game and turn the momentum in their favor.
“When you’re playing teams like this, and now moving into the playoffs, when you have opportunities to get down in the red zone, you got to put points on the board. A touchdown would have been key for us there.”