By Andrew Rudansky
The Killer Bees of Bridgehampton have a history of success that few teams in League VIII can replicate. The team has gone to the state championships three times in the 22-year tenure of head coach Carl Johnson, and has been a consistent contender in the Class D playoffs for years.
Not bad for any team, let alone one of the smallest Class D schools in the state.
Last year the Killer Bees failed to live up to their winning history, ending their season with a disappointing 2-14 record. Throughout the entire year they were only able to beat one team, Shelter Island, which accounted for both of their wins.
Johnson explains that a plague of injuries and a thin bench were the cause of last year’s substandard record. With a school population hovering around 50 students, the Killer Bees normally start the year with a small roster, because of this any injury that results in a player missing games is felt double.
“Some of the games we were right there, they could have gone either way…but it always seemed that when we got one kid back [from injury], another one would fall,” said Johnson. “It can be devastating, especially if it happens to a key player.”
This season the Killer Bees will be relying on a corps of talented returning players to help them get back to their winning ways of the past. Johnson said that the height of senior Canna Campbell (6’5”) and junior Jason Hopson (6’3”) will provide them a competitive edge against the rest of League VIII. Johnson said that these center/forwards’ true strength lies in their experience from being four year varsity players and their ability to play the guard position if need be.
Joining these two from last year will be forward Brendan Hemby, guard Zave Brodie and sophomore talent Anajae Lamb.
“[Lamb] was just a freshman last year but he played a lot of minutes and started in half of the games,” said Johnson.
Of Hemby, Johnson said that the toughness and experience he brings to the game creates matchup headaches for opposing teams.
The team will also be drawing talent from Bridgehampton’s JV team, among them Tylik Furman.
Johnson said that his game plan this year is to rely on the height of his team at the post, and to keep the other team guessing with a mixed defense. He added that if his team can avoid the injuries that hampered the team last year he was sure they can make a run at the Class D playoffs.
“We are going to be able to field a team that will be very competitive,” said Johnson about the upcoming season. “Our league is up for grabs as far as I’m concerned.”
The team’s first matchup of the season is a non-league home game against East Rockaway on Saturday, December 10.