By Connor Beach
The Half Hollow Hills High School East football team kept the crowd on its feet during last Friday’s Homecoming victory over Copiague.
The Thunderbirds entered the game with a disappointing 0-2 record in Suffolk Division 2 after losses to Northport and Smithtown West to start the season, but last year’s county semi-finalists were able to ride the Homecoming game energy to their first win of the season.
Head coach Michael Maratto praised his team’s sprit before the start of the season, and it was on full display last week as they outplayed the Eagles of Copiague on both sides of the ball.
The Thunderbirds offensive line, led by senior center Paul Bruno, set the tone early to help establish the run for Hills East. The Homecoming crowds were in good spirits early after an eight-yard touchdown run by junior running back Nyrle Sevilla opened the scoring.
The Eagles ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown of their own. Maratto was able to refocus his young squad after the setback, and they shutout Copiague until the fourth quarter.
Sevilla scored his second touchdown of the game, and the Thunderbirds defense forced a safety to give Hills East a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Hills East scored 23 unanswered points in the second quarter on the back of strong performances on the defensive side of the ball. Senior captain Jon Spadafora recorded 10 tackles and a sack in the game, while Lewis Matherin added two sacks of his own.
Junior quarterback Brett Martin had an impressive second quarter as well. Martin broke one of his eight rushing attempts for a 65-yard touchdown, and also completed his lone touchdown pass of the game to Kahleil Nedd for 23 yards.
The Thunderbirds had a commanding 39-7 lead at the end of the first half, and their defense did enough in the second half to keep a comfortable cushion on the scoreboard as the game finished 44-21.
In addition his 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns, Sevilla also had two interceptions in the defensive side of the ball. Martin and Spadafora, who ran for 140 and 100 yards, respectively, supported Sevilla’s rushing in the Thunderbirds rushing attack.
Kyle Krause rounded out the stat sheet with one reception from Martin for 10 yards.
The Thunderbirds will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday when they host the 2-1 Cougars of Centereach High School at 1:30 p.m.