Articles by

Michael Gasparino

06/08/14 8:00am

gaspo_dog

Monday we had to say goodbye to our dog, Luke. He was 14 years old and until very recently, I was convinced we would be able to claim ownership of the world’s oldest dog. I honestly thought sometimes that he’d outlive us all.

He looked great up until the last couple of months, when he finally began acting like a nonagenarian (in dog years). He came upstiars less and less, and it took a beat or two to jump up onto his couch (yes, his couch, because he was spoiled), so when the end came, it was sudden but not surprising.  (more…)

10/26/13 7:17pm
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Brennan Gorman (51), Max Goldfarb (77), Chris Rosati (8) and Ethan Wiederkehr (40) celebrate after stopping Elwood/John Glenn on a third-and-one play.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Brennan Gorman (51), Max Goldfarb (77), Chris Rosati (8) and Ethan Wiederkehr (40) celebrate after stopping Elwood/John Glenn on a third-and-one play.

KNIGHTS 21, WILDCATS 18

A back-and-forth battle marked by turnovers and missed opportunities came down to a big fourth-quarter decision.

The Knights of Elwood/John Glenn, thanks to three rushing touchdowns by sophomore quarterback Wayne Knight — and needing a win to stay in the race for a Suffolk County football playoff spot — held a 21-18 lead over host Shoreham-Wading River on Saturday afternoon.

The Knights faced fourth-and-three at the Wildcats’ 32 with a little more than three minutes remaining. With the wind behind them, they could punt into the end zone or try a pooch punt deep into Wildcats territory and leave it to their defense. They could let White or tailback Chris Forsberg, who combined for 200 rushing yards, carry the ball for a first down that would all but seal the win.

Knights head coach Dave Shanahan went for door No. 3.

White faked a handoff, turned to his right and tossed a 5-yard curl to Stephen Orkiszewski for the first down, which allowed the Knights — who entered the game in seventh place in Division IV — to run out the clock and improve to 5-2.

“I went to the senior,” said Shanahan, referring to Orkiszewski. “Our kids really rallied and buckled down, and we were able to run the ball. Usually, we throw the ball. Today we ran it.”

White relieved starting quarterback Tommy Balacki, a senior, midway through the first quarter, and the move sparked the Knights. White finished with 102 yards rushing and 48 yards passing.

Shoreham-Wading River came into the game in second place and dropped to 5-2 with the loss. With one game remaining at 3-4 Port Jefferson, the Wildcats are playing for a top-four seed in the playoffs.

“I tell the kids after every game, whether it’s a win at Mount Sinai, enjoy the weekend, but we’ll see you on Monday and it’s back to work,” said Wildcats head coach Matt Millheiser. “The message is the same here. We had a tough loss, we wanted this one bad, but now it stings over the weekend, and it’s time to get back to work on Monday.”

The Wildcats honored 13 seniors in a ceremony before their final home game, and came out storming. Tyler Anderson (26 carries, 225 yards) returned the opening kickoff 43 yards to midfield. After a 16-yard run and a 30-yard jaunt by quarterback Danny Hughes, Anderson capped the 89-second drive with a six-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

Two plays later, Glenn’s Keeshawn Boodie lost a fumble at midfield, but a botched pitch to Isreal Squires gave the ball right back to the Knights, who ended up missing a field goal.

The Wildcats went three-and-out, and a shanked punt into a stiff wind gave the Knights possession at the Shoreham 16 yard-line. Four plays later, at fourth-and-one from the 7, White scored on a sweep to help knot the score, 7-7.

The Wildcats answered with a drive that featured a 31-yard run by Anderson and a 26-yard reception by Aaron Harely-Rey, and had first-and-goal at the Knights 4. Anderson lost three yards, and after an incomplete pass, Hughes took it to the goal line and came up inches short. On fourth down, Millheiser called Hughes’ number again, but the Knights defense stopped him at the goal line.

“Danny doesn’t get it in on the quarterback sneak, so that’s a difference in score right there,” Millheiser said. “They were able to capitalize on their chances, and we weren’t able to capitalize on enough of ours.”

The Knights punted the ball back to the Wildcats, who went ahead by 10-7 on a 35-yard field goal by Zach McAuley. But the Knights responded, driving 72 yards for a touchdown when White scored from two yards out with 18 seconds left in the half.

Glenn missed another field goal, from 25 yards out, early in the third quarter, but the Wildcats couldn’t handle the prosperity, turning it back over when Harely-Rey lost a fumble at the Shoreham 38. Four plays later, White scored his third touchdown, and the Knights led, 21-10.

The Wildcats answered quickly. A 17-yard pass from Hughes to Adam Tanner helped set up a 21-yard touchdown run by Anderson, and the senior workhorse converted the two-point try to move the Wildcats within three, 21-18, early in the fourth quarter.

The Shoreham defense forced the Knights to punt, but the Wildcats’ turned it back over on downs, as Anderson was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-three from the Shoreham 39.

Millheiser said he is counting on his seniors to get the Wildcats back on track. He said, “It’s nothing they haven’t been through before, and I expect them to respond and be leaders going into the next week.”

11/10/12 6:44pm

MICHAEL GASPARINO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River halfback Tyler Anderson follows the block of Brennan Gorman on the way to a 23-yard touchdown run in Saturday’s playoff win over The Stony Brook School. Anderson finished with 201 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

DIVISION IV PLAYOFFS  |  WILDCATS 35, BEARS 12

The Shoreham-Wading River football team won its first-ever varsity playoff game Saturday, and the Wildcats are hoping it won’t be their last this season.

Tyler Anderson scored four touchdowns — sealing the win with third-quarter scoring runs of 53 and 57 yards — to lead the Wildcats to a 35-12 victory over The Stony Brook School in what was also the first-ever home playoff game at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

The Suffolk County Division IV quarterfinal victory earned the third-seeded Wildcats (7-2) a spot in the semifinals next weekend at No. 2 Mount Sinai (8-1), a 20-14 winner over Elwood-John Glenn, the two-time defending Long Island champion.

For players like senior tackle Kyle Flemming, who have helped the Wildcats transform themselves from an also-ran to a playoff team, the win was special.

“Last year, we came back from that 0-8 season, and we’ve just been building up, building up, and a home playoff game was just huge for the program,” Flemming said. “It was great to see everyone come out, and the team played well.”

“I told them no matter what happens the rest of the way here, or the rest of your life, you can come back here with your kids, and you were in that first group that had a home playoff game and won,” added coach Matt Millheiser. “No one can take that away from them.”

Saturday marked a return to normalcy for Long Island high school football, after more than a week of weather-related chaos thanks to Sandy and Athena. But the Wildcats were able to shake off whatever rust they had by storming out to a 21-0 halftime lead.

“The last time we played them, we came out slow, so we wanted to make sure we came out hitting,” said Anderson, who ran for 201 yards on 19 carries.

“It was extremely important just to have a rhythm and a feel,” Millheiser said of the Wildcats’ quick start. “The kids were itching to get back on the field; it was tough to get everyone back into it and to get going again. So right away to have success, the kids got back in the groove and everything felt normal again.”

The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field, capping a 13-play, 76-yard, 7-minute and 36-second drive with a three-yard touchdown plunge by Anderson. The point-after by Zach MacAuley gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.

The margin grew to 14-0 after the Wildcats forced the Bears to go three-and-out. A 31-yard pass from Danny Hughes to Mitch Identsohn helped set up a one-yard scoring run by Dominic Pirraglia early in the second quarter.

A fumble on the Bears’ next drive gave the Wildcats the ball at the Stony Brook 30 yard-line, and two plays in, Anderson scored on a 23-yard run up the middle for a 21-0 Wildcats advantage.

The Bears went three-and-out to start the third quarter, and on the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage, Anderson had a run for the ages, dancing out of three tackles as he sprinted down the left sidelines on a 53-yard touchdown run.

“For a big tall kid like him he really has some moves, and he has great feet,” said Millheiser. “He’s a tremendous back and he keeps getting better.”

Anderson wowed the crowd again on the first play of the fourth quarter, breaking a tackle 10 yards downfield and then outrunning the Bears defense for a 57-yard scoring run that made it 35-0.

Stony Brook added two late touchdowns, the first on a one-yard run by Jake Harrington and the second on a 38-yard run by quarterback Marco Masakayan.

Millheiser wished he had Anderson’s nimble feet in the postgame team meeting, as he was blindsided by the traditional ice water bath. “I’ve got to learn how to dodge that better,” he said. “I told the kids that was the best tackle they had all day.”

The Wildcats piled up 342 yards of offense. Hughes was 3-for-3 passing for 56 yards, all to Identsohn. Pirraglia rushed for 42 yards on eight carries and Avery Friedman added 20 yards rushing. Masakayan was 8-for-18 passing for 60 yards and ran for 144 yards. Don Liotine added 126 yards rushing for the Bears.

The Wildcats lost to Mount Sinai in week two, 28-0, so they will have something to prove when they meet again; the game will likely be Friday night, for what would be the first night game at Mount Sinai this year after budget cuts forced the school to turn off the lights.

“We’ve got to hold our ground,” Anderson said. “The first time we played them, we were able to move the ball, but our defense was lacking. If we can step up our defense, I think we have a shot.”

Millheiser said if the Wildcats can execute their plays, they will be fine.

“Sometimes we get a little lazy in our execution,” he said. “We get caught in the moment because we haven’t been in a lot of those big moments yet, but hopefully the kids focus on what they have to do.”

10/20/12 8:00am

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | McGann-Mercy running back Tom Kent rushes the ball Friday night against The Stony Brook School.

In the last 22 years, Bishop McGann-Mercy football teams had qualified for the playoffs twice, in 2008 and before that, in 1991.

Better make that three.

The Monarchs secured a playoff berth for the third time in 21 years with an emphatic 27-14 victory over The Stony Brook School Friday night in Stony Brook, improving to 6-1 in Suffolk County Division IV.

Junior quarterback Asaiah Wilson threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score to lead the Monarchs. Sophomore running back Reggie Archer ran for 162 yards on 24 carries and had the other touchdown for Mercy.

“The game plan coming in was to run the ball down their throat,” said Wilson, who completed 5 of 7 passes for 115 yards while rushing for 23 yards. “But after we ran it, and ran it, and ran it, the secondary backed up, and I found some open spots.”

The victory will propel the Monarchs past the Bears (5-2) in the Division IV standings into at least fifth place, behind 5-1 Hampton Bays, which hosts 2-4 Wyandanch on Saturday. The following week, Mercy hosts 2-4 East Hampton, while Hampton Bays hosts 5-1 Mount Sinai; a Monarchs win and a Hampton Bays loss would give the Monarchs home field in the first round of the playoffs.

“If we win we’ll be 7-1, and we’re definitely not going to play a top seed,” said senior Jack Strnad. “It’ll be nice to bring it for the home crowd.”

It’s pretty heady stuff for a program that has been on the outside looking in for so many postseasons.

“For a long time here, that attitude and winning spirit hasn’t been around Mercy, and these guys have brought it back,” said coach Jeff Doroski, who was a member of that 1991 team. “I get e-mails, I get phone calls, ‘Hey coach, you guys are doing great.’ It’s exciting for the school, and it’s exciting for the kids.”

Doroski noted that the regular-season finale is also senior night, and said the seniors have laid the foundation for a program that should remain competitive.

“This is where we want to be, year in and year out in this division, competing for a playoff spot,” Doroski said. “And going into Week 8 with a 6-1 record is really special for us.”

The Monarchs dominated the first half, grabbing a 20-0 halftime advantage while outgaining the Bears, 212 yards to 51. Mercy forced four punts in the half and held the Bears to just four first downs.

Archer opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 68-yard touchdown run, breaking around the left side and outrunning the Bears defense down the sideline. In the second quarter, Wilson hit sophomore Andrew Glasgow over the middle for a 37-yard touchdown pass that gave the Monarchs a 14-0 lead.

Interceptions by Tom Kent and Wilson kept the Bears from mounting a counterattack, and the latter pick gave the Monarchs the ball at the Stony Brook 37 yard-line with 32 seconds left before halftime. On second down, Wilson found freshman wideout Mario Sciara for a 36-yard gain to the one, and two plays later, Wilson ran it in himself.

Mercy took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and quickly went ahead, 27-0, with a five-play, 57-yard drive capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Sciara.

Doroski noted that Sciara was called up from the junior varsity to help diversify Mercy’s offensive attack.

“He gives us another weapon,” Doroski said. “He’s a taller guy, he can go and get the ball, he’s got good hands, he blocks well on the perimeter. We like what he does for us out there.”

The Bears scored twice in the game’s final five minutes, first on a touchdown pass from Marco Masakayan to Tyler Hoegsberg, and after a Mercy fumble, on a five-yard run by Don Liotine (24 carries, 117 yards).

The victory was the perfect tonic after a shutout loss to Shoreham-Wading River in Week 6. Doroski said he was proud of how the team bounced back, particularly Wilson.

“He didn’t have a great game last week, and he took the loss hard,” the coach said. “But he worked hard in practice and got back after it. It’s only his first year playing the position, but he’s starting to see things better on the field, and know where he needs to put the ball. It’s nice to see his development.”

10/06/12 9:09pm

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Tyler Anderson rushed for 224 yards Saturday against John Glenn. He now 552 rushing yards in the last two games.

WILDCATS 31, KNIGHTS 14

Running back Tyler Anderson rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats to a 31-14 victory over Elwood-John Glenn Saturday afternoon in a Suffolk County Division IV football game at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

Anderson had two long touchdown runs of 32 and 35 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Wildcats, who improved to 4-1. Anderson, a junior, also had a three-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave the Wildcats a 10-7 lead, one they would not relinquish.

The Shoreham defense limited Glenn’s spread offense to less than 200 total yards, and just 50 yards rushing, and intercepted quarterback Matt Shaneman twice.

A key turnover came with 1:24 left in the first half after the Wildcats had punted to midfield. Middle linebacker Anthony Lima intercepted a pass on Glenn’s first play from scrimmage, and one play later, Shoreham quarterback Danny Hughes hit Scott Lavey down the left sideline for a 37-yard reception. On third-and-three from the six yard-line, Hughes found Isreal Squires over the middle for a touchdown with only nine seconds left, and the Wildcats had a 17-7 halftime lead.

Glenn, the two-time defending Long Island champions, fell to 2-3. The Wildcats continue their season Oct. 12 at 5-0 Bishop McGann-Mercy. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

09/21/12 11:59pm

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Isreal Squires makes a leaping grab against Port Jefferson Friday night.

WILDCATS 34, ROYALS 6

“Friday Night Lights” was the main attraction at Shoreham-Wading River High School, and the Wildcats put on a show.

Tyler Anderson took center stage, running for three touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 34-6 victory Friday over Port Jefferson in Suffolk County Division IV football — the first night football game at Shoreham in more than a decade.

“It’s the classic high school game that you live for,” said Anderson, who rushed for 140 yards on 15 carries, pacing a Wildcats offense that rushed for 289 yards. “Just to come down here and have the huge crowd here, it’s really special for us.”

“The kids were jacked up,” said Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser. “I’m happy that we were able to provide this experience. The school was great, people donated their time to help — it was really, really nice. A night game like this, when they came out and got a win, they’re going to remember this for a long time.”

The Shoreham-Wading River community turned out in droves for the special event, made possible by a donation of portable lights by Pirraglia Contracting. Jeff McAuley — whose son, Zack, kicked four extra points after playing in the SWR boys’ soccer team’s 3-1 win over Mount Sinai in the afternoon — said the money raised during the game will be added to the continuing fundraising efforts that will pay for the “Field of Dreams” project, which will include a new press box and bleachers, rest rooms and permanent lights.

The big stage was the perfect venue for the Wildcats (2-1) to get back on track after a tough shutout loss to Mount Sinai last weekend.

“It was important to get things going again, gain a little confidence, and to play well,” Millheiser said. “I think they did that right off the bat, and it continued all the way throughout, from the first guys, to the second guys and third guys.”

The Wildcats started the first half strong and finished the same way, scoring two touchdowns in the first 5:11 and adding two more in the final 4:49 to take a 27-0 lead at halftime.

Anderson got it started on the game’s opening drive, scoring untouched on a 39-yard run to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead just after just 2:03. After the Royals went three-and-out, Isreal Squires scored on a 40-yard touchdown run on a reverse, racing down the left sideline and into the end zone. The point-after attempt was blocked, and the Wildcats led, 13-0.

Superior blocking up front set up both scoring runs.

“Our o-line did a tremendous job, and when they go, we go,” Millheiser said. “When the line is getting off the ball and doing things right, it makes it easy for our backs to run through big holes.”

“The offensive line was kicking butt up and down the field, and it makes running real easy,” added Anderson. “They did a great job today.”

The Shoreham defense, meanwhile, kept the Royals bottled up. Port Jefferson opened with three straight three-and-outs, and after a fourth punt from deep in Royals territory, the Wildcats mounted a five-play scoring drive that featured a 14-yard pass from Danny Hughes to Squires, followed by an eight-yard touchdown run by Anderson for a 20-0 Wildcats lead.

The Royals (1-2) turned it over on their next possession, when Squires intercepted a halfback option pass by Tyler D’Accardo. Eight plays later, Hughes hit Mitch Identsohn over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass with just 10 seconds left in the second quarter.

Port Jefferson got on the board in the third quarter on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Justin Jones to Matt Taroli. The Wildcats, however, ground-and-pounded the game away.

Kevin Kelley came in at quarterback and Avery Friedman took the bulk of the carries in the second half, finishing with 75 yards rushing on 12 attempts.

Millheiser noted that unlike in seasons past, the Wildcats have several weapons to choose from. “When Tyler needs a break, we don’t really lose anything when Avery comes in,” he said. “Avery is a tremendous back — it’s like having a 1 and a 1A.”

A Port Jefferson fumble late in the third quarter led to Anderson’s third touchdown of the night, this one from 16 yards out on a run around the right end.

The Wildcats continue the season Sept. 29 against East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson at East Hampton High School. Game time is 2 p.m.

09/07/12 11:55pm

MICHAEL GASPARINO PHOTO | McGann-Mercy sophomore Reggie Archer rushed for 124 yards in a season-opening victory over Center Moriches Friday night.

Two long touchdown runs in the third quarter propelled the McGann-Mercy Monarchs to a 20-12 victory over Center Moriches in the Suffolk County Division IV football opener Friday night at Center Moriches High School.

Sophomore Reggie Archer’s 49-yard touchdown run early in the third broke a 6-6 tie, and five minutes later, Paul Annunziata scored on a 31-yard run on a fourth-and-one play to give the Monarchs a 20-6 lead. Paolo Foscolo followed his 30-yard interception return with a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, which gave the Monarchs a 6-0 lead.

Archer finished with 124 yards on 20 carries, pacing the Monarchs’ 185-yard rushing attack. Annunziata had 55 yards rushing on eight carries.

Mercy’s defense allowed just 42 yards rushing in the second half. A late touchdown by Center Moriches off a deflected pass gave the Red Devils one last chance, but their onside kick was recovered by the Monarchs.

The preseason No. 12 seed, McGann-Mercy (1-0) continues the Division IV schedule Sept. 15 at Southampton.

08/07/12 12:54am

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Greg Canelly, right, scored the Wildcats’ second goal against Center Moriches from a direct free kick.

The way the summer has gone for the Shoreham-Wading River varsity boys soccer team, one goal would have been enough. But the Wildcats got two, just in case.

Two first-half tallies and another superior defensive effort propelled Shoreham-Wading River to a 2-0 victory over Center Moriches in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools championship game Monday evening at Diamond in the Pines Park in Coram. The win improved the Wildcats’ summer record to 11-0-1, with all 11 victories coming on shutouts.

“The defense has been playing great all summer,” said Shoreham-Wading River coach Andrew Moschetti, lauding the defensive work of players like Anthony Cusano, Garrett Budney, Travis Qualley, Michael McDonnell and Vincent Alese, along with goaltenders Evan Kearney and Adam Pietrowski, who have split time in the nets.

“The guys in the back, with the two keepers, to only give up two goals all season? That’s a pretty solid defense,” Moschetti added. “They say defense wins championships. So it seems to work.”

The victory pushes Shoreham-Wading River into the overall Brookhaven championship game Wednesday against Sachem North, which defeated Northport, 1-0, in the large schools title game. Wednesday’s game will be at 6:15 p.m. at Diamond in the Pines, and the winner of that game will face the Town of Babylon champion Thursday at St. Joseph’s College.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Matthew O’Gorman of Shoreham-Wading River rose above the crowd for a header.

Moschetti expected the Wildcats to be good this summer, thanks to nine returning varsity starters and 14 seniors — just maybe not along the lines of 31 goals for and only two allowed in 12 games. “I didn’t know what to expect during the summer, but they’ve all been playing great,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for these guys to come up since they were freshmen, and now they’re starting to jell together, and it’s senior year, you know. They’re older now, they know the game, they know each other, and it’s showing on the field.”

Shoreham won the Brookhaven small schools regular-season championship by finishing 8-0-1, the only blemish a 2-2 tie with Mattituck in the third game. That turned out to be the only game in which the Wildcats allowed any goals.

Shoreham-Wading River advanced to the small schools title game with a 2-0 playoff win over Bayport-Blue Point, followed by a 1-0 win over Miller Place in the semifinals. Center Moriches blanked Southold and Eastport/South Manor in its two playoff games by identical 1-0 scores.

The Wildcats dominated possession in Monday’s final against Center Moriches, limiting the opposition to only a handful of chances and even fewer shots that were actually on net.

Shoreham-Wading River opened the scoring with 12 minutes left in the first half when Charles DeMaio scored off a cross from William Mileski. Three minutes later, Greg Canelly fired a direct kick from 25 yards out past Center Moriches keeper Jeff Carpenter, and the Wildcats led at halftime, 2-0.

The second half saw more outstanding defense by the Wildcats. Pietrowski made two solid saves, and Cusano foiled another Center Moriches scoring opportunity by running down an attacker midway through the half.

Moschetti noted that the small schools title is the first won by the Shoreham-Wading River boys in his four seasons coaching the summer team; he won a summer title previously coaching the Shoreham girls. He said while winning is “great,” it’s not what the summer season is about.

“I never really stress winning in the summer,” he said. “It’s more of an opportunity for the kids to keep playing together, for me to see some of the younger kids who didn’t play varsity last year. That’s really the emphasis.”

That said, winning a summer title is a just reward for the hard work the team has put in the past three months.

“It’s a good feeling; the kids are excited,” Moschetti said. “They’ve been playing well, they’ve been training hard in the summer, working their butts off. The seniors have had them running twice a week at the track, kind of knowing that we might have something special here, and they want to be prepared for the [fall] season.”