One year after a season full of tragedy and triumph, the Shoreham-Wading River High School varsity football team will not defend its Suffolk County championship at home.
Since it wasn’t until Tuesday night that the school board accepted a $1.7 million bid to install a new turf field, construction will now carry into December and the Wildcats will have to play each game on the road.
“I’m sure they’d prefer to play [at home], but I think everyone has come to terms with the fact that if we want this turf field down for the spring, we’ve got to do it now,” Superintendent Steven Cohen said after the meeting. “There’s no choice, really.”
Athletic director Mark Passamonte said during the meeting he consulted with coach Matt Millheiser and they determined the best course of action is to play away games this season due to construction.
The team is scheduled to play six of its eight games at opposing schools’ home fields and will face Elwood/John Glenn at a neutral field at Mount Sinai High School.
“We don’t want to go back to the [Elwood/John Glenn] field this year for obvious reasons,” Mr. Passamonte said during the meeting.
Another game against Babylon is scheduled to be played at Islip High School, according to the schedule on Section XI.
Last October, 16-year-old Thomas Cutinella died from an injury he sustained during a game at John Glenn High School in Elwood. While the tragedy saddened the community, the Wildcats rallied together and won the Long Island championship, as well as the Rutgers Trophy in Cutinella’s honor.
In May, the district announced its field will be named “Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field.” The school board finalized those plans at Tuesday’s meeting and agreed to place his name on both sides of the turf field.
The school board also approved adding “Wildcats” to both end zones, as well as a sideline containment netting and an organic in-fill system.
Project manager Derek Knatz of Park East Construction said the turf field project will cost $1.7 million and construction will run from the second week of August to Dec. 1. Laser Industries of Ridge is handling the construction work.
“The community has to realize we did a great thing with this bond and we’re moving forward with it,” board member Sean Beran said during the meeting. “There will be some hiccups and bumps and there will be some crowding, but that’s all part of it, so hold on tight.”
Mr. Beran, vice president Robert Rose and board members Michael Fucito and Bill McGrath voted in favor of the latest plans for the turf field.
School board president John Zukowski and board members Jack Costas and Richard Pluschau were absent.
The Wildcats begin the 2015 season Sept. 4 at Bishop McGann-Mercy.