09/27/14 9:05pm
09/27/2014 9:05 PM
Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)

Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)

So, how does a high school football team follow up one of the biggest wins in program history?

Well, if it’s Shoreham-Wading River, it wallops visiting Hampton Bays, 48-0.

A lot of things could have gone wrong in Saturday’s Suffolk County Division IV game for the Wildcats (3-0), who were coming off a stunning 9-7 upset of defending Long Island Class IV champion Babylon a week earlier. In addition to having to deal with Saturday’s hot weather, the Wildcats could have faced a natural letdown after their big triumph over Babylon.

It didn’t happen. (more…)

09/19/14 9:52pm
09/19/2014 9:52 PM
Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser receive a surprise ice shower after the Wildcats' upset victory over Babylon Friday. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser receive a surprise ice shower after the Wildcats’ upset victory over Babylon Friday. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

WILDCATS 9, PANTHERS 7

The memory is still fresh in the mind of Daniel Hughes. Two years ago. Under the lights in Babylon. The Wildcats were 5-1, and eager to prove they belonged in the upper echelon of Division IV.

On a night that ended like so many before in Babylon, the Wildcats limped away, their egos bruised, in a stinging 55-0 loss. A month later, the Panthers were Long Island champions, in the midst of a 25-game win streak they carried into Friday night.

“I’ve never had something as bad as that in my life,” Hughes said.

Losses against Babylon continued again last year, once in the regular season, again in the playoffs, 42-13.

The Wildcats returned to Babylon Friday, once again eager to prove a point.

And this time, they delivered.

In a defensive battle that came down to the very end, the Wildcats emerged 9-7 winners to hand the Panthers their first loss since the county championship game in 2011 against John Glenn. The Wildcats forced three turnovers, controlled field position throughout and relied on a physical, stout defense to hand the Panthers their first regular season loss since Oct. 1, 2011.

The Wildcats won for only the second time in program history against Babylon. Their only other win came in 2005. Overall, the Wildcats are now 2-15 against Babylon.

Seconds after Shoreham sophomore Ethan Wiederkehr sacked Babylon quarterback Ron Woodhull on fourth down to seal the victory, players grabbed the water cooler to douse coach Matt Millheiser. Only one kneel down remained for the win.

“I could hear the ice and all of a sudden, I was like whoa!” Millheiser said. “It’s all good. It’s worth it.”

Shoreham junior Chris Rosati scored on an 8-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and the score remained stuck at 6-0 for most of the game.

Neither team’s offense could generate drives.

The Wildcats gained a little breathing room with 5:35 left in the fourth when Daniel Mahoney kicked a 26-yard field to make it a two-possession game at 9-0.

But the Panthers came surging back with a five-play, 69-yard drive capped by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Woodhull to Stephen Schweitzer. The drive took only 56 seconds.

The Wildcats began their next drive with their worst field position of the game after a holding penalty on the kickoff negated a huge return by Isreal Squires. Backed up at their own 6-yard line, the Wildcats managed to pick up two first downs before eventually punting with under a minute to go. Babylon got the ball back on its own 38 and turned it over on four plays.

Rosati rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries. Hughes rushed for 60 on 13 carries. He also completed 7 of 17 passes for 71 yards.

The Wildcats improve to 2-0 heading into next week’s game against Hampton Bays. The Panthers are now 1-1.

Last year the Wildcats defeated Mount Sinai for the first time in program history.

joew@timesreview.com

11/15/13 12:30pm
11/15/2013 12:30 PM
DANIEL DE MATO FILE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Daniel Hughes scrambles with the ball against Babylon in Week 2.

DANIEL DE MATO FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Daniel Hughes scrambles with the ball against Babylon in Week 2.

When the Shoreham-Wading River football team lines up against Babylon tonight in the semifinals of the Division IV playoffs, the odds will most definitely be stacked against the Wildcats.

The Panthers, defending Class IV Long Island champions, will take a 21-game win streak onto their home field, where they’ve been nearly unbeatable over the past decade. The Panthers have lost just twice since the start of the 2011 season.

While the top-seeded Panthers (9-0) enter as favorites, there’s reason for Shoreham (7-2) to be optimistic.

How can the Wildcats pull off the upset?

1. Control the clock

The Wildcats have relied on their ground game all season behind a veteran offensive line and the aggressive running of senior Tyler Anderson. In the first round of the playoffs, Anderson exploded for more than 400 rushing yards to break his previous school record. It won’t be that easy against Babylon, which has allowed double-digit points only twice this season. The Wildcats were one of those teams. But their 14 points scored were toward the end of the game after it already was lopsided. The Wildcats will need to control the pace of the game in order to win, running long drives, even if they end up without points.

2. Limit Babylon’s passing attack

Babylon quarterback Nick Santorelli lit up the Shoreham defense in the regular season matchup. Babylon’s strength is its ability to spread out a defense and throw the ball, which opens up the running game between the tackles. The Panthers have two dynamite receivers with tremendous size in 6-foot-5 Ray Wardell and 6-foot-2 Jack Carlock. The two combined for 12 receptions and three touchdowns when the teams last met. The Wildcats will need to avoid giving up big plays through the air, especially early in the game. If the Wildcats can force Babylon to run the ball, they’ll have a much better chance on defense.

3. Special teams

A key ingredient in any upset is the play of special teams, which can help swing the momentum of a game. The Wildcats have a tremendous kicker in Zach McAuley, who has the potential to add three points with a field goal if a drive stalls. A kick-off return or punt return for a touchdown would go a long way toward helping the Wildcats win an upset. Anderson has been returning kicks for Shoreham. He returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in Week 8 against Port Jefferson.

4. No mistakes

It goes without saying in any football game, but for the Wildcats to have a chance, they can’t cough the ball up or commit needless penalties. If the Wildcats can win the turnover battle, the game could be there in the end for the taking. And if the Wildcats can put Babylon in an uncomfortable position of being in a tight game in the fourth quarter, who knows what might happen.

10/25/13 10:37pm
10/25/2013 10:37 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Babylon's Jack Kresek hits Bishop McGann-Mercy quarterback Mike Frosina while Frosina attempts a pass.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Babylon’s Jack Kresek hits Bishop McGann-Mercy quarterback Mike Frosina while Frosina attempts a pass.

PANTHERS 41, MONARCHS 6

The word on the street is that Babylon High School’s football team is even better than it was last year when the Panthers won the Long Island Class IV championship and the Rutgers Trophy, which is given to the most outstanding team in Suffolk County. A reporter who covers the team said the current squad is the strongest he has seen in 20 years.

Now that has to send a chill through teams throughout Suffolk Division IV and beyond.

Is Babylon that good?

It just may be. The Panthers have been beating opponent after opponent in dominant fashion. In other words, it has been business as usual in Babylon this season.

On Friday night it was Bishop McGann-Mercy’s turn to take its medicine. Babylon, playing its final regular-season at home, assured itself of a playoff game in the familiar surroundings of Coach Walt Williams Field with a 41-6 defeat of the Monarchs. Babylon (7-0), which started the day as one of only three unbeaten teams in Suffolk, extended its winning streak to 19 games.

Impressive as ever, Babylon was once again a model of offensive efficiency and defensive toughness. Babylon surged to a 28-0 lead by halftime, by which time the Monarchs (0-7) had minus-7 yards of offense. McGann-Mercy finished the game with only one first down and 63 yards in offense.

Meanwhile, Babylon scored touchdowns on five of its first six possessions. The Panthers have produced 29 touchdowns in 34 first-half possessions this season.

That doesn’t include a strange play that brought the second score of Friday’s game. A line-drive punt by McGann-Mercy’s Andrew Glasgow was caught near the line of scrimmage by Babylon’s Luke Zappia, and he ran the ball back 30 yards for his fourth touchdown of the season late in the first quarter.

Babylon put the ball in the air only five times, but three of them went for touchdowns. Nick Santorelli, one of the 16 Babylon seniors who were recognized and presented with a rose during a pregame ceremony, hit Stony Brook University-bound Jake Carlock for a pair of touchdowns. The two slants, of 25 and 32 yards, were Carlock’s only catches of the night before Babylon coach Rick Punzone started making multiple substitutions in the second quarter. But the second catch gave Carlock, a senior, his 15th touchdown of the season, a school record.

Santorelli was replaced at quarterback by Henry Brunjes about midway through the second quarter, and Brunjes immediately led a drive that ended with him finding an open Eddie Vega in the end zone for an 11-yard reception. It was the first touchdown of the year for both of them.

Making it look easy, Babylon continued putting points on the scoreboard in the second half. Stephen Schweitzer scored on a 7-yard run and Brunjes ran one in from 5 yards out himself.

The Monarchs averted a shutout when their quarterback, Mike Frosina, turned what coach Jeff Doroski said was a busted play into a touchdown. It looked like a naked bootleg, with Frosina faking a handoff before darting around the left side and racing 30 yards to the end zone. It was McGann-Mercy’s only third-down conversion of the game.

Eleven Babylon ball carriers contributed to the team’s 207 rushing yards.

Pat Marelli made a game-high 7 tackles for the Monarchs; all of them were solo except for one, and two were for losses.

bliepa@timesreview.com

09/20/13 9:53pm
09/20/2013 9:53 PM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Daniel Hughes scrambles for a first down in the fourth quarter Friday night against Babylon.

PANTHERS 36, WILDCATS 14

If the question for Shoreham-Wading River was whether the Wildcats had bridged the gap between themselves and the upper echelon of Division IV, the Babylon Panthers delivered a swift and emphatic answer Friday night: not yet.

The defending Long Island champions, who haven’t lost a regular season game since Oct. 1, 2011, quickly put an end to the Wildcats’ night by taking a 29-0 lead in the second quarter. The Panthers (2-0) scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions and cruised to a 36-14 victory.

The silver lining for the Wildcats: they reached the end zone twice, something they hadn’t done at all in their previous two trips to Babylon.

The Shoreham touchdowns came on consecutive plays from scrimmage, both 80-yard runs. Senior Tyler Anderson scored the first, busting a run to the outside and up the sideline on the final play of the third quarter. After Babylon went three-and-out, the Wildcats struck again when junior Aaron Harley-Rey broke through the middle for an 80-yard score.

The two plays injected life back into the Wildcats’ sideline, but the score never got any closer.

At the very least, the Wildcats can leave Babylon knowing they played a tougher game than a year ago, when the Panthers dismantled Shoreham late in the season, 55-0.

Babylon’s offense Friday did most of its damage early on through the air behind quarterback Nick Santorelli. He threw 11-of-13 for 150 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers played a lot of spread formations with four wide receivers, which also opened up some running lanes for Santorelli and halfback Eric Schweitzer.

On two passing touchdowns, the Wildcats had a defensive back in position. But both times the receiver simply went up and snatched the ball out of the air.

Ray Wardell, a 6-foot-5 receiver, easily came down with the first passing touchdown while matched up against the 5-foot-10 cornerback Mike Ingermi for Shorheam. The touchdown gave Babylon a 14-0 lead. Jake Carlock, who’s 6-2, scored the first of his two touchdowns by snagging a ball amid double coverage at the left corner of the end zone.

Wardell caught six passes to lead the receiving corps. In the second half, the Panthers abandoned the spread formations and stuck to a basic running attack.

Schweitzer scored two touchdowns on the ground to lead the rushing attack. Anderson still had a big day on the ground for Shoreham as he tallied 150 yards.

The loss dropped Shoreham to 1-14 all-time against Babylon. The Wildcats host The Stony Brook School next week.

joew@timesreview.com

08/21/13 8:00am
08/21/2013 8:00 AM
Riverhead Foundation Courtesy Photo | Roxanne and foundation volunteers during a physical at the Riverhead aquarium.

RIVERHEAD FOUNDATION COURTESY PHOTO | Roxanne and foundation volunteers during a physical.

A campaign to raise funds for the release of the Riverhead Foundation’s newest patient is making waves.

Roxanne, an adult Risso’s dolphin was rescued just south of Oak Beach on Jones Beach Island in Babylon June 6. The U.S. Coast Guard found her struggling from dehydration and gastric bleeding on a sand bar, according to officials from the non-profit.

Foundation volunteers transported Roxanne on a stretcher, loading the 9-foot, 600-pound dolphin into the back of a vehicle and brought her to her current home in Riverhead.

“Roxanne is now healthy and thriving,” according to the press release. “She eats over 75 pounds of squid each day, and interacts with staff along with her enrichment devices.”

Roxanne will need an 18 member team, a crane, a transport truck and a vessel to carry her back into ocean waters. She will also be fitted with a satellite tracking device in order to provide data on how she behaves after her release.

In all, about $35,000 is needed to completely fund her rehabilitation and release, according to a foundation spokeswoman.

Her story aired last Thursday night on WABC’s Channel 7 Eyewitness News, generating more than $4,500 in donations in the 24 hours following the broadcast.

The network included the hashtag #FreeRoxanne, which is now being used to spread Roxanne’s story on Facebook and Twitter.

More information about Roxanne can be found on her donation page, and a real-time view of her can be seen on the foundation’s website.

Foundation officials said they hope to release Roxanne in early September.

Riverhead Foundation Courtesy Photo | Roxanne in her tank at the Riverhead Aquarium.

RIVERHEAD FOUNDATION COURTESY PHOTO | Roxanne in her tank at the Riverhead Foundation.

05/21/13 9:40pm
05/21/2013 9:40 PM

SUFFOLK CLASS C SEMIFINALS | WILDCATS 8, PANTHERS 7 (OT)

Meredith Bushell doesn’t crave the spotlight on a lacrosse field. It’s her competitiveness that drives her, and what has helped her thrive as a defensive player.

She rarely cracks the box score for goals or assists. And she’s fine with that.

“I don’t like people beating me,” the Shoreham-Wading River senior said of what motivates her on the field.

That mentality has helped her become one the premier defensive players in the county. And in Tuesday’s Class C semifinal game against Babylon, she faced the challenge of guarding an elite playmaker in Shelby Fredericks, a Northwestern committed attackman.

In a game where every goal was hard earned, the Wildcats needed to contain Fredericks for the final 2 1/2 minutes of regulation and into overtime, just long enough to emerge 8-7 winners and advance into next Tuesday’s county championship.

The Wildcats (13-4) will be making their 10th straight trip to a county final and will face their longtime rival in undefeated Mount Sinai.

The Wildcats never trailed against the Panthers, but there was no shortage of intense moments.

Fredericks struck twice in a 2 1/2 minute span to tie the game at 7 with 2:35 left in regulation. On her first goal, the ball bounced at the goal line and shot directly up and knocked off the crossbar into the cage. She tied the game on a free position for her next goal.

Bushell knows Fredericks well having played with her on several teams outside of school and at camps.

The Wildcats’ ‘backer’ zone defense doesn’t typically allow the defense to focus on one particular player. But when the Wildcats needed to make an adjustment in the second half to focus more on Fredericks, it was Bushell who got the call.

“I pretty much stayed with her when I knew we needed it,” Bushell said. “At the end when we had a free position, I was on her like glue.”

Fredericks (2 goals, 2 assists) had the ball in her stick with 10 seconds to go in regulation with a chance to win the game, exactly what the Panthers (12-5) could have hoped for at the start. But Fredericks waited a few seconds too long to make her move and couldn’t get off a strong shot at the end, sending the game into overtime.

“Meredith was doing great,” said Shoreham coach Mary Bergmann. “I don’t think [Fredericks] was getting too many looks late in the second half and into overtime. She was passing the ball around and that’s kind of what we wanted.”

In the first overtime period, Jessica Angerman won the opening draw against Fredericks, giving the Wildcats a crucial first possession. The Panthers had dominated on draws all game, but the Wildcats came up with a big one when they needed it.

With 1:33 left, Lauren Lustgarten circled behind the cage and found Paulina Constant darting to the front wide open. Constant caught the pass and buried the shot to put the Wildcats ahead 8-7.

“It’s a hard spot for the goalie,” Bergmann said. “The goalie’s backwards and has to turn around.”

To start the second overtime period (there are two three-minute halves in OT) the Panthers won the draw. As the Panthers tried passing the ball toward the crease, Meghan King intercepted a pass in front of the goal, sending the Wildcats in transition.

The goal for Shoreham became simple: hold the ball.

The Wildcats nearly ran the clock down, thanks in large part to a huge effort from Shannon Rosati. Earlier in the first overtime she took a hard hit and appeared a bit shaky forcing her to come out of the game. After the trainer determined her fit to return, Rosati came back in with 1:28 left. Using her speed, she raced through the Panthers’ defensive zone with the ball, running crucial seconds off the clock.

“I think that says a lot about her and says a lot about our team mentality ” Bergmann said. “She knew she wanted to come back in the game. Maybe without her we might not have been able to pull that off as good as we did.”

The Wildcats ran nearly two minutes off the clock before turning the ball over near midfield with 14 seconds left. The Panthers got one last chance, but couldn’t get off a quality shot at the end.

“I knew we were going to be OK,” Bushell said.

Goalkeeper Lauren Daly delivered a strong performance between the pipes for Shoreham. The sophomore stopped seven shots, including a big one with 1:35 left in regulation on a Fredericks shot. A scramble for the ground ball ensued behind the goal and Daly fought her way in to scoop up the ball.

“Lauren’s awesome,” Bushell said. “She literally saves us all the time.”

The Wildcats never led by more than two in the game, but each time Babylon tied it, they answered with a goal to recapture the lead. Shoreham got a balanced effort offensively with three players scoring multiple goals. Rosati, Alex Fehmel and Alyssa Pearce all scored a pair. Constant had 2 assists to go with her game-winning goal.

joew@timesreview.com

11/17/12 5:17pm
11/17/2012 5:17 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Reggie Archer, right, runs into Babylon’s Andrew Watson.

SUFFOLK COUNTY DIVISION IV SEMIFINAL | PANTHERS 49, MONARCHS 12

When it comes to Suffolk County Division IV football, Babylon is the benchmark. With some exceptions mixed in here and there, it has been that way for a long time.

The record speaks for itself. Over the course of its proud history, Babylon has won four Long Island championships and eight county crowns. The Panthers have played in 18 county finals in 20 years. Appearances in county finals this time of the year have become the norm for Babylon.

“We want to do it for the people who wore the jersey before us,” Babylon quarterback Nick Santorelli said. “Every year in, year out, we hold ourselves to that high standard. There’s no other Babylon. We’re Babylon. That’s who we are.”

Undefeated Babylon was a winner once again on Saturday, this time at the expense of Bishop McGann-Mercy. Santorelli threw for two touchdowns and ran for another two as top-seeded Babylon rolled to a 49-12 win in a Division IV semifinal on its home field. The Panthers (10-0) will play No. 2 Mount Sinai (9-1) in the county final next weekend at Stony Brook University.

The defeat brought an end to McGann-Mercy’s most successful season in decades. No. 5 McGann-Mercy (7-3), which was seeded 12th in a preseason coaches poll, was coming off a thrilling first-round upset of Hampton Bays. McGann-Mercy’s first playoff win since 1991 gave the Monarchs seven wins on the season, their highest total since 1978.

“We’re excited about what we did this year,” said Jeff Doroski, who is in his second year as McGann-Mercy’s head coach. “I’m going to tell these guys and continue to tell them they’ve done great things for Mercy football. They put us back on the map. They generated a buzz and excitement among our school community. … I really couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

Bishop McGann-Mercy wideout Christian Reyes said: “This season’s been great. It’s a total turnaround from the last couple of years. This is, I think, our best season ever.”

As one might have expected, heavily favored Babylon took a lot of the suspense out of the game early, surging to a 22-0 lead in the opening 7 minutes 24 seconds and holding a commanding 42-6 advantage by halftime.

“We came out pumped up, and we just beat them right from the start,” said Babylon running back/linebacker Eric Schweitzer.

The game’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a Babylon touchdown. Santorelli lofted a pass down the left side that Schweitzer collected for a 65-yard connection 17 seconds into the game.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Pat Marelli of Bishop McGann-Mercy stops Babylon ball carrier Ryan McSweeney. Marelli made seven solo tackles and assisted on two others.

Santorelli completed all three of his passes, two for touchdowns. The other touchdown pass was a 31-yarder to Jake Carlock.

Luke Zappia ran for another two Babylon touchdowns, and Schweitzer produced one himself. Schweitzer had 112 yards from 12 carries.

Babylon’s defense was dominant, holding McGann-Mercy to only one first down and 91 yards of offense. The Monarchs went 0 for 8 on third-down conversion attempts and 0 for 3 on fourth downs.

The first McGann-Mercy touchdown, with 4:19 left in the first quarter, came on a strange play. Tom Kent of McGann-Mercy received Alex Malhas’ kickoff and carried the ball forward before fumbling. Reyes collected the bouncing ball around the McGann-Mercy 40-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown.

McGann-Mercy’s second touchdown came with 6:58 left in the third quarter. Reggie Archer broke through the middle and tore 66 yards for the score.

The McGann-Mercy defense was led by Jack Strnad (seven solo tackles, three assisted) and Pat Marelli (seven solo tackles, two assisted).

McGann-Mercy might be the surprise team of Division IV this year, but Babylon wasn’t about to overlook the Monarchs.

“We don’t really care about their name, who they are or where they’re from,” Santorelli said. “We just play like it’s any other game. We play like it’s Sinai, like it’s Glenn. We just went out there and gave it everything we got. We didn’t take them lightly at all.”

Babylon overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat Mount Sinai, 22-16, during the regular season. The Panthers are two wins away from becoming the first Babylon team to go undefeated in a season since the 2002 team went 11-0.

“I told these kids they could be immortal,” said Rick Punzone, whose 10-year record as Babylon’s coach is 85-19 (.817). “You know, you’re 12 and 0, who knows? You could go down as one of the best teams in Babylon history.”

What was the best thing to come out of this season for the Monarchs?

Doroski answered, “The best thing is the memories that these guys will have for the rest of their life.”

bliepa@timesreview.com