By Joe Galotti
Most young men who decide to put on a helmet and pads and play high school football never get to experience the joy of winning a class championship or putting together a perfect season. On Friday afternoon, at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, the Shoreham-Wading River football team had the rare opportunity to reach both of those achievements for a second straight season, and did not let it go to waste.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 28-point first-half lead over Locust Valley, helping them come away with a 35-7 victory in the Long Island Class IV Championship game. Senior running back Chris Rosati led the way with four rushing touchdowns, and the team’s eye-popping winning streak was extended to 24 games.
“(Going undefeated twice) is very special,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Matt Millheiser said. “It really was something I wanted them to achieve and carry with them, and they did that today.”
After the victory, Rosati admitted that the team felt pressure all season long trying to repeat last fall’s undefeated campaign.
“Every team was looking to beat us,” Rosati said. “We got everyone’s best game, but we just really fought hard against every team we faced.”
If the Wildcats were at all nervous on Friday, they did not show it, as they jumped all over the Falcons early on, putting up two quick scores on the team that had entered the contest allowing the fewest points on Long Island this year.
Rosati got Shoreham-Wading River on the board when he capped off the team’s opening drive by taking a pitch to the right side 26 yards for a touchdown. On the Wildcats next drive, Rosati delivered a two-yard rushing touchdown, which was set up by a 31-yard run by senior wideout Jon Constant.
Early in the second quarter, Rosati drove his way into the end zone once again, this time, on a 1-yard rush.
“Chris is amazing,” senior guard Dalten Stalzer said. “Just watching him play every week; it’s crazy. Some of the things he does and the tackles he breaks, it makes us look good.”
With 1:24 remaining before the half, senior quarterback Jason Curran put the game out of reach with a six-yard touchdown pass to Constant.
Shoreham-Wading River was extremely effective on the ground in the game, with Rosati rushing for 110 yards, Curran rushing for 91 yards and Constant rushing for 90 yards. Much of this was made possible by a dominant performance from the team’s offensive line.
“We knew what we needed to do to execute,” Constant said. “But [our success] all starts with our line’s performance.”
The Wildcats’ defense also put up a strong effort, forcing three interceptions and not giving up a score until the fourth quarter. Constant was responsible for two of the picks, while Rosati had the other.
With another perfect season in the books, Shoreham-Wading River is arguably in the midst of one of the best runs in Long Island high school football history. But Millheiser says that the key to the Wildcats’ success has been not getting caught up in any of the streaks or stats.
“We were more concerned about doing our jobs and doing the right thing,” Millheiser said. “When you focus on those things the fun numbers like 24-0 seem to come with it.”
During Shoreham-Wading River’s postgame team photo with its championship trophy, the team once again got the opportunity to honor the memory of their former teammate Tom Cutinella, who died as a result of an on-field collision in a 2014 game. Senior lineman James Puckey held up Cutinella’s No. 54 jersey for the group shot, making it clear that he was still very much a part of the Wildcats team.