By Bill Landon
Shoreham-Wading River hasn’t lost a football game since November 2013.
It was a second-round playoff game against Babylon, a team that had always derailed the Wildcats. But since last season, Shoreham’s new winning culture permeates every player who wears the blue and gold.
In eight games, Shoreham-Wading River has outscored its opponents 291-47. Saturday was no different, as the Wildcats defeated visiting Center Moriches, 42-13, for another perfect season and to win the League IV title for the second consecutive year.
Senior running back Chris Rosati has been the Wildcats’ powerhouse running back all season. He scored three touchdowns on the afternoon, but it might have been more if he had played the entire game.
Rosati’s first score came on the second play from scrimmage where he cut to the outside, turned up the field and went 59 yards into the end zone in a game that wasn’t even a minute old. Senior kicker Daniel Mahoney followed by doing what he’d done all season, splitting the uprights to give the Wildcats the early 7-0 lead.
Shoreham-Wading River found the end zone again six minutes later, when junior quarterback Kevin Cutinella threw to classmate Daniel Cassidy, a tight end, for six more points.
“We prepare for every game like it’s the last game — we play with heavy hearts and we play as hard as we can for [Tom Cutinella],” Cassidy said, referring to his teammate who died last year after taking a hit in a game against Elwood. “And we don’t take any team lightly.”
With Mahoney’s kick, the Wildcats took a 14-0 lead with 4:07 left to play in the first quarter.
The Red Devils were unable to run the ball, but moved the chains on two consecutive pass plays. It was not enough — after the team failed to make a fourth-down conversion, the Wildcats took over in their own end.
Rosati answered the call again. After seeing that the running lanes inside were closed, he bounced it outside and raced by two defenders with alarming speed. He covered 71 yards and again entered the end zone untouched.
“We’ve kept the momentum from last year,” Rosati said. “We work at it in practice and we work on both sides of the ball. On offense, we try to grind it out on every play and our linemen work so hard and they open the holes. On defense, we just fly around. We try to hold them to as few yards as possible.”
With Mahoney perfect on the day, the Wildcats broke out to a 21-0 advantage to open the second quarter.
Unable to move the chains, the Red Devils were forced to punt. With a long kick well down field, the Wildcats committed a rare miscue — after choosing not to field the kick, the ball bounced into a Shoreham-Wading River player and Center Moriches pounced on the live ball to recover its own punt.
Center Moriches senior quarterback Joe Martins connected with classmate Kyrin Taylor, a wide receiver, who made it to the 1-yard line for a first and goal. Senior running back Chris Iannelli finished it, but the extra-point attempt struck the left goal post, halting the score at 21-6.
On the Wildcats’ ensuing possession, Rosati struck again. This time the running back swept to his left, outran defenders and sped down the left sideline for his third touchdown of the afternoon. Again, Mahoney was money, and Shoreham-Wading River broke out to a 28-6 lead.
“Our goal is to shut out every team we play,” Rosati said.
The Red Devils had little success moving the ball again, and the Wildcats took over.
Senior wide receiver Jon Constant scored next on a reverse play, covering 40 yards for the score.
“The coach told us before the game to perform on each side of the ball,” he said. “Just shut out the [defense] and fly to the ball.”
With Mahoney’s foot, Shoreham-Wading River surged ahead, 35-6.
On their final possession of the first half, the Red Devils let the clock bleed off and called a timeout with two seconds left. Desperate for a score, Center Moriches dropped back and threw the Hail Mary deep down field, but Shoreham-Wading River senior cornerback Kyle Fehmel leapt up and grabbed the ball to end the half.
With both teams scoreless in the third quarter, senior running back Justin Squires lit up the scoreboard with 4:07 left in the game. On a handoff up the middle, Squires broke outside, found an open running lane and went 70 yards for the touchdown. With Mahoney’s chip shot, the Wildcats were out in front 42-6.
Center Moriches managed one more score with just under a minute left to close out the game, and with the extra-point good, it brought the final score to 42-13.
“I told the kids to just go out and finish — finish every play and let’s finish this season 8-0,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Matt Millheiser said. “And then we can get ready for the second season.”
The top-seeded Wildcats will face No. 8 McGann Mercy on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Miller Place High School, as the home team, as construction of the Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field at Shoreham-Wading River nears completion.