When a high school football team faces a clear and heavy favorite like Shoreham-Wading River in its opening playoff game, what does it do? Well, it plays hard, tries to stay loose and hopes for the best.
That is essentially what Bishop McGann-Mercy did on Saturday. The Monarchs really had nothing to lose — other than a game. For all their efforts, though, there were no surprises.
Monarchs quarterback Kevin Santacroce hit Nick Kneski and Marco Sciara for pass completions on two of the game’s first three plays, something for them to feel good about early on.
That good feeling didn’t last long for the Monarchs. Their first series stalled on their own 45-yard line. On the following play, Chris Rosati, on his first touch of the game, bolted around the right side for a touchdown.
The Wildcats were off and running.
Before the first half was over, Rosati had run for three touchdowns, giving him 24 for the season, and the Wildcats had blown the Suffolk County Division IV qualifying-round game wide open with a 34-0 lead. The score was 41-7 when the game at Miller Place High School ended. The Wildcats had secured their 21st consecutive win and a place in next week’s county semifinals against an unknown opponent.
The top-seeded Wildcats (9-0) had won again. It’s what they do.
Kevin Cutinella, who started at quarterback for the Wildcats, put the ball in the air only twice (both were completions). With Rosati and the rest of Shoreham’s running game, there was no need for much passing, really. Justin Squires ran for 90 yards and the elusive Rosati danced and dashed, adding 83 yards to his season total. For the year, Rosati has 1,169 yards from only 103 carries.
Cutinella and Ethan Baumack also had touchdown runs for the Wildcats. Altogether, 11 Shoreham ball carriers totaled 306 yards in the playoff opener.
Shoreham’s first five possessions ended with touchdowns.
As if that wasn’t enough for No. 8 McGann-Mercy (4-5) to deal with, Chris Sheehan returned the second-half kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Dan Mahoney’s extra point made it 41-0.
In contrast to the Wildcats, the Monarchs have relied more on the pass. They managed only 54 yards on 10 completions from 24 passing attempts. One of those passes brought the Monarchs their touchdown late in the third quarter. Santacroce zipped a 3-yard pass to Jack Pavelchak for the score. A 62-yard run by Joe Jeskie had set up the touchdown.
On Shoreham’s last possession, the Wildcats took the ball to the McGann-Mercy 6-yard line before taking consecutive knees and handing the ball over to the Monarchs.