SUFFOLK COUNTY DIVISION IV SEMIFINAL | MUSTANGS 21, WILDCATS 0
This has been an historic football season for Shoreham-Wading River. The team earned its first home playoff game, posted its first playoff win, and set a team record for the most wins in a season.
What the Wildcats weren’t able to do, however, was defeat perennial power Mount Sinai.
Shoreham-Wading River has never beaten Mount Sinai, which won both games between the teams this year. The most recent came Friday night when Mark Donadio scored all three touchdowns in a Suffolk County Division IV semifinal that ended with the score 21-0.
“They should be proud of what they achieved,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser said of his players. “The seniors going out took us from an 0-8 group a couple of years ago to a group playing in the semifinals that won seven games. It hurts now, but I think in a couple of weeks a little perspective sets in and they see what they accomplished over their time here. They have a lot to hold their heads high about.”
As does No. 2 seed Mount Sinai (9-1). The Mustangs ousted defending Long Island champion Elwood/John Glenn from the playoffs a week earlier, and they looked sharp in their final home game of the season on Friday night. Donadio’s play and Mount Sinai’s defense proved to be a winning recipe, earning the Mustangs a place in the county final. They will play the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between Bishop McGann-Mercy (7-2) and Babylon (9-0). The title game will be played on Nov. 24 or 25 at Stony Brook University.
Mount Sinai has a potent one-two punch in its backfield in the form of identical twins, seniors Mark and Mike Donadio. Mark plays fullback and free safety; Mike plays halfback and outside linebacker.
The brothers bear such a strong resemblance to each other that Mount Sinai coach Vinnie Ammirato needs a second or two to tell which one is which. Their appearance isn’t the only thing they have in common, either.
“Their running styles are identical,” Ammirato said. “The good thing about both of them is they are always moving forward, even when they make cuts.”
Mark Donadio had a lot of forward motion on Friday night — 188 yards worth, to be exact. He did most of his damage in the first half when he picked up 130 of his 141 rushing yards.
“I felt great,” Mark Donadio said. “There were a lot of holes to run through, and it just opened up nice for me.”
As if to show that he can do more than just run with the ball, Mark Donadio had a touchdown reception with 5 minutes 7 seconds left in the third quarter. He received a swing pass from Billy Tartaglia before weaving his way 47 yards to the end zone. Chris Prestia’s extra point made it 21-0. It was one of only two passes Mount Sinai threw in the game. When a team runs like Mount Sinai does, it doesn’t have to pass much.
The game had been scoreless until the first play of the second quarter. On a third-down play from the Shoreham-Wading River 10-yard line,
Mark Donadio took a handoff and cut to the left side, going untouched for the score.
Then Mark Donadio capped Mount Sinai’s next offensive series by showing good body control and zigzagging 15 yards for another touchdown.
No. 3 Shoreham-Wading River (7-3) didn’t reach Mount Sinai’s red zone until the fourth quarter. The Wildcats advanced to the Mount Sinai 16-yard line on one series, but back-to-back sacks by Ryan Clark and Sal Maresca put an end to that threat. Then, a fumble recovery by Scott Lavey gave Shoreham-Wading River another chance to score. The Wildcats reached the Mount Sinai 5 before Bryan Reed recorded a game-ending sack. Mount Sinai finished with five sacks, including two and a half by Clark.
“They’re sure tacklers and they make you make plays,” said Millheiser, whose team was held scoreless in the eight quarters it played against Mount Sinai this year. “They’re not going to give away anything soft.”
Isreal Squires was involved in 11 tackles and Anthony Lima had a hand in 10 for Shoreham-Wading River.
Shoreham-Wading River’s feature back, Tyler Anderson, had a productive game. The junior picked up 159 yards from 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 20 yards.
“He’s a tremendous back with a ton of upside,” Millheiser said. “He’s a great back, and I think the sky’s the limit. I don’t know if we’ve seen the best from him yet.”
Mount Sinai usually plays its home games at night, but because of budgetary considerations, Friday’s game was the only home game this year that the Mustangs played under the lights.
“I think Friday night football at Mount Sinai is something pretty special,” Ammirato said, “and I’m glad they got to play their last home game” at night.
Some tears on the Shoreham-Wading River sideline after the game were evidence that the result wasn’t what the Wildcats wanted, but they clearly can’t complain about the strides they made this season.
“We played tough to the end,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep going. Sometimes you just fall short.”