East Hampton High School will not be fielding a varsity football team in the fall 2014 season.
It was a difficult decision, according to the school’s Athletic Director Joe Vasile-Cozzo, but a lack of participation made it impossible to build two teams, and it quickly became clear that playing junior varsity would be the wisest, and most responsible, route for East Hampton.
Only 18 players would be returning from the 2013 season, Vasile-Cozzo explained, adding, “Looking at the players coming up from the eighth grade, we were more tailored toward the junior varsity.”
Last year, the Bonackers’ varsity team landed in eighth place with a 3-5 record in Division IV, and they would be rotating into the more competitive Division III in 2014. “That was a concern for us,” Vasile-Cozzo said. “We felt a little overmatched in Conference III.”
In spite of everything East Hampton was up against, they did not make their decision lightly, Vasile-Cozzo said, noting that he and the coaches explored a number of options, including combining teams with Southampton, staying out of the playoffs and remaining in Division IV. “We met with the board, we met with parents,” he said, but dropping varsity in 2014 was the best decision for the safety of the kids.
Another painful reality of losing varsity in 2014 is the fact that juniors from the 2013 team will not be permitted to play junior varsity as seniors, thanks to a Section XI rule which precludes them from doing so.
“I think everyone is a little sad,” Vasile-Cozzo admitted, while promising that this is only a speed bump in the Bonac football program and they are focused on rebuilding for what fans can only hope will be a triumphant return in 2015.