Matt Millheiser, architect of three straight Long Island championships by the Shoreham-Wading River High School football team, will not return to the team next year.
Millheiser confirmed, in a text message, that he had stepped down as the team’s coach Monday afternoon.
Shoreham-Wading River athletic director Mark Passamonte said Millheiser has two young daughters and had talked before about stepping aside out of consideration of family time. Passamonte said the discussion with Millheiser “wasn’t that elaborate.”
Millheiser turned down an interview request.
In eight years as the team’s head coach, Millheiser oversaw the golden era of Shoreham football. He dealt with triumph and tragedy. Under his guidance, the Wildcats won three successive Long Island Class IV championships from 2014-16, including two Rutgers Trophy awards, which go to the best team in Suffolk County, regardless of class. North Babylon (1997 in Class III, 1998-99 in Class II), William Floyd (2005-7 in Class I) and Lawrence (2012-14 in Class IV) are the only other teams to win three straight Long Island titles. No team has ever won four in a row.
That Shoreham string was snapped this past season when the Wildcats lost to Miller Place in a Suffolk County Division IV semifinal. Shoreham went 7-3, leaving Millheiser with a 61-22 record for his career.
“He obviously took the program to an unbelievable level,” Passamonte said.
Millheiser also steered the Wildcats through the death of one of their players, Thomas Cutinella, after he collapsed on the field in a game at Elwood/John Glenn High School on the night of Oct. 1, 2014.
Passamonte said Millheiser’s leadership during those difficult times “was just outstanding. Just him being able to move forward and lead the kids through that time was really amazing.”
Coaching positions at the high school are one-year appointments. Passamonte said there is no time frame for hiring Millheiser’s successor. “We’’ll go through the hiring process as we would any other coach,” he said.
Passamonte said Millheiser, a special education teacher in the high school who played quarterback for the Wildcats, is respectful and professional.
“We’re going to miss Matt,” he said. “Obviously, he did a great job. He was an outstanding coach, not only with the Xs and Os, but he had a great relationship with the kids.”
Photo caption: Matt Millheiser on the sidelines of a game against Port Jefferson in 2017. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)
CORRECTION: The Rutgers Trophy is awarded to the best team in Suffolk County, not Long Island.