The numbers of three Shoreham-Wading River baseball players will be retired during a ceremony Saturday prior to an alumni game at Kevin Williams Memorial Field. (more…)
The numbers of three Shoreham-Wading River baseball players will be retired during a ceremony Saturday prior to an alumni game at Kevin Williams Memorial Field. (more…)
WILDCATS 33, ROYALS 7
It took a few days for the sting of last week’s loss to John Glenn to begin to fade for Shoreham-Wading River. The Wildcats realized all they could do was prepare for the next game today against Port Jefferson and close out the season with a win.
“We tried to treat this week as a playoff week,” said Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser. “I think the kids responded to that.”
Shoreham rolled to a 33-7 road win over the Royals Saturday to finish the regular season at 6-2 in Division IV. But as the final power points were tallied, the sting of that earlier loss reappeared.
The Wildcats, who were in prime position to earn the No. 2 seed going into last week, which would have been the highest finish in program history, will instead begin the playoffs as the No. 4. While that does give Shoreham a home playoff game in the first round, it lines them up to most likely face unbeaten and top-seeded Babylon in the semifinals rather than the county championship.
There’s still a chance the Wildcats could avoid Babylon until the county finals; teams are reseeded after the first round. But that would require either No. 2 Mount Sinai or No. 3 John Glenn to lose in the first round in games they would be favored to win.
Shoreham will begin the postseason against No. 5 Center Moriches next Saturday at 1 p.m. The teams did not meet in the regular season. Mount Sinai, Glenn, Shoreham and Center Moriches all finished with identical records.
The Wildcats got a typically dominant performance against Port Jefferson from running back Tyler Anderson. He carried the ball 12 times and tallied 151 yards. He scored three touchdowns, including a 90-yard punt return early in the second quarter, which was the first special teams touchdown for Shoreham this season.
“He had a really, really good day,” Millheiser said.
Anderson didn’t normally return punts earlier in the year. But sophomore Chris Rosati has been limited with a sore hamstring, so to limit his playing time, the Wildacts threw their two-way starter onto special teams.
“As of right now we’re going to leave him back there,” Millheiser said.
Shoreham quarterback Daniel Hughes was 3 of 5 passing, including a 80-yard touchdown play to tight end Mitch Idtensohn.
Hughes, Isreal Squires and Aaron Harley-Rey all had interceptions for the Wildcats. Squires had a big day on defense with 10 tackles.
“The defense played well,” Millheiser said.
Shoreham led 33-0 in the fourth quarter before the Royals broke through for their lone score. Port Jefferson finishes the season 3-5 and out of the playoffs.
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.”
The fourth quarter of a Shoreham-Wading River football game last year rarely featured much drama. That was mostly a good thing.
In seven wins, the Wildcats’ average margin of victory was 25.7 points.
In their three losses, the final coming in the Division IV semifinals against Mount Sinai, the Wildcats’ average margin of defeat was 34 points. Babylon and Mount Sinai, who battled for the county title, combined to beat Shoreham 104-0 in three games.
As the Wildcats begin the 2013 season, the hope is a talented group of returning players can finally close that gap. Over the last three years the Wildcats have climbed from a bottom feeder to a top-four team.
“We’d like to take that next step,” said Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser. “We’ve been the past two years, record-wise, with that top group, but we haven’t broken the barrier on the field against them.”
There’s reason for optimism.
The Wildcats return an experienced line with a talented, veteran rusher behind it in senior Tyler Anderson.
“Teams are going to focus on trying to stop him,” Millheiser said.
Anderson’s rushing ability, the Wildcats hope, can open up some of the passing game as well. Junior Danny Hughes returns at quarterback after a successful season starting as a 10th-grader.
He’ll have some speedy targets to throw to in junior Isreal Squires and Bryce Casey, both of whom run on the track teams. Squires had a big season last year on varsity with some highlight reel catches. Casey was a standout on the JV.
“[Casey is] a talented kid who I think can really keep defenses honest in the passing game,” Millheiser said.
Senior Mitch Identsohn is another big target in the passing game at tight end.
The Wildcats have a sophomore on offense who will see time in the backfield in Chris Rosati.
“He’s just an all-around great athlete,” Millheiser said.
Millheiser said he expects the offensive and defensive lines to be one of the team’s biggest strengths. On offense, the Wildcats will line up seniors Brendan Fisher, Max Goldfarb, Brennan Gorman, senior Jack Choinski and junior Bobby Puckey. Choinski is the lone newcomer to the group that has been playing together for the last several years.
“They’re hard workers and they demand a lot of each other,” Millheiser said.
Goldfarb, Puckey Gorman and Fisher will all start on the defensive line as well.
Anderson and Identsohn will anchor the defense at linebacker. Junior Aaron Harley-Rey will start as a newcomer on defense.
Squires, Rosati and Hughes can all see time in the secondary.
The Wildcats also return kicker Zach McAuley, who’s in his fourth year playing football in the fall in addition to soccer.
The Wildcats will be tested early in the season. They open the season at home Thursday against McGann-Mercy, a team that advanced to the final four last year.
And Week 2 provides the ultimate challenge — a trip to Babylon to face last year’s Long Island champion.
As the leader of the Shoreham-Wading River defense this season, senior Mitch Identsohn plays what’s affectionately referred to as the “stud” linebacker. Such a title undoubtedly brings hefty expectations.
“He’s kind of the guy we move around and put at the point of attack,” said Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser. “We want to put our best player where [the opposing team] is going to go and put him in the middle of the action.”
As a two-way player for the Wildcats, Identsohn will have a crucial role on both sides of the field this season for a team looking to take the next step from playoff team to legit contender.
On offense, Identsohn plays tight end, where his primary role is the gritty work of run blocking. It’s the kind of unheralded role that often goes unnoticed in the box score, but that’s fine with Identsohn.
“In the games and especially in the [film] room when you make a key block that opens up a run, the coaches let you know,” Identsohn said. “When we’re in the film room, all the lineman get credit for what they do.”
Identsohn understands a team’s running game is only as good as its offensive line. And at Shoreham, the Wildcats have always been a run-first team. That won’t change this year with senior Tyler Anderson back after a 1,500-yard rushing season a year ago.
Identsohn first came up to varsity as a sophomore when he played as wingback/slot receiver on offense. At the start of his junior season he competed for the tight end position and won the starting job. A defensive end in 10th grade, Identsohn started playing linebacker last year and flourished. He finished the season with 54 total tackles, one off the team lead. He had one sack and an interception that he returned for a touchdown against McGann-Mercy.
Millheiser said Identsohn came up to the varsity as a 10th-grader “with a bunch of potential.” Now as a senior he’s the go-to player on defense and a team leader.
“One of the biggest things with Mitch is his toughness and durability,” Millheiser said. “His leadership not only in the season, but in the offseason. He’ll get kids in workouts and get other kids he knows that are good athletes involved and out for the team. He’s been valuable to the program in the season and out of season.”
Identsohn said as a senior he sees the game from a different perspective. “You’re in control and everyone looks up to you,” he said. “You’re supposed to lead the team and set and example for all the other juniors and sophomores on the team.”
Identsohn will be in charge of calling plays on the field and making sure his teammates are lined up in the right position. It’s a big change from his defensive end position he played two years ago, where his main focus was on stopping the run.
“I like it a lot more,” he said. “There’s pressure because people expect you to make those tackles and be at the spot to make the play. But I kind of enjoy having the pressure.”
Identsohn and Anderson are the two returning mainstays at linebacker. A few other newcomers are fighting for the other positions.
Millheiser said the linebackers will often rotate around the field based on certain plays, which makes communication critical.
“Sometimes things can be a little complex,” he said. “They do a good job talking to each other and making sure they’re lined up correctly.”
On offense last year, Identsohn wasn’t heavily featured in the passing game. He caught 4 passes for 58 yards and one touchdown.
With junior quarterback Danny Hughes having a year of experience under his belt, Identsohn could play a bigger role in the passing game this year. Teams will be focused on stopping the running game. And wide receiver Isreal Squires is a player on the outside who can command double teams.
That could leave the middle of the field open for a player like Identsohn, at 6-foot, 195-pounds, to be a big target for Hughes.
“We’re definitely going to try to find mismatches if we can,” Millheiser said. “With that kind of size and his athletic ability, you want to try to utilize that.”
Identsohn would welcome a bigger role in the passing game, but at the end of the day, he said, it’s all about the team scoring touchdowns.
“It’s not about who scores, as long as we get the touchdown,” he said.
There’s definite reason for enthusiasm at training camp this year for Shoreham-Wading River. After a 6-2 regular season last year, the Wildcats advanced into the semifinals of the Division IV playoffs.
They enter this year with the core of their skill position players back on offense, including quarterback, wide receiver and running back.
But Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser knows there’s another word that can replace enthusiasm: expectations.
“It’s a double-sided coin,” Millheiser said. “It’s nice to have expectations where people believe in you enough to say, ‘Hey, they’re capable of this and that.’ But it’s also a little more pressure.”
Under Millheiser’s tutelage, the Wildcats have gotten better and better each season since 2010. Two years ago they shocked everyone by making the playoffs. Last year, it wasn’t so much a surprise when the Wildcats finished as the No. 3 seed in the division and won a first-round playoff game against The Stony Brook School.
So what’s the next step this year?
“There’s excitement in terms of getting better and making strides against the better teams in the league,” Millheiser said.
The Wildcats will begin this season where they left off last year: third in Division IV. The preseason rankings list Shoreham behind Babylon and Mount Sinai, the two mainstays of D-IV. Babylon won the Class IV Long Island championship last year.
As the Wildcats begin their first official practices this week, one of the early question marks centers around the offensive line.
“It’s trying to find the right fit, making sure that we all find the best place to put them to help the team,” Millheiser said. “Obviously, there’s always competition and battles on the field but the main thing is settling that offensive line.”
However the line shapes up, it will undoubtedly have one of the top runners in the division behind it in senior Tyler Anderson. A four-year varsity player, Anderson put up huge numbers last year. He finished the season with 18 touchdowns.
Millheiser fully expects another huge season from Anderson, who also plays linebacker. Now he’s looking to see him as a bigger leader on the team.
“When times get tough and things get a little shaky on the field, I’m going to expect a little more leadership,” Millheiser said. “Not just from what he says, but how he acts in a role that people will get behind him and follow him.”
The Wildcats return junior quarterback Danny Hughes and wide receiver Isreal Squires, who teamed up for some highlight reel plays last year. While the Wildcats will still be a run-first team, Hughes should get plenty of chances to find the speedster Squires on passing routes.
“I would say you’re going to see us utilize Izzy and Danny’s skills a little bit more this year,” Millheiser said. “We have some known quantities in terms of weapons this year that we definitely weren’t aware we had at the start of last year.”
With a 29-man roster on the varsity to start the season, the Wildcats will face a challenging preseason schedule to prepare for the season. Their first scrimmage features Sachem East, Miller Place, Smithtown West and West Babylon. They’ll play a game scrimmage against Half Hollow Hills East.
Millheiser said one notable change to the coaching staff this year is the addition of Tom Fabian, who was the JV head coach last year. He’ll coach on the varsity this year as the defensive coordinator, while also coaching the receivers and defensive backs.
SUFFOLK COUNTY DIVISION IV SEMIFINAL | MUSTANGS 21, WILDCATS 0
This has been an historic football season for Shoreham-Wading River. The team earned its first home playoff game, posted its first playoff win, and set a team record for the most wins in a season.
What the Wildcats weren’t able to do, however, was defeat perennial power Mount Sinai.
Shoreham-Wading River has never beaten Mount Sinai, which won both games between the teams this year. The most recent came Friday night when Mark Donadio scored all three touchdowns in a Suffolk County Division IV semifinal that ended with the score 21-0.
“They should be proud of what they achieved,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser said of his players. “The seniors going out took us from an 0-8 group a couple of years ago to a group playing in the semifinals that won seven games. It hurts now, but I think in a couple of weeks a little perspective sets in and they see what they accomplished over their time here. They have a lot to hold their heads high about.”
As does No. 2 seed Mount Sinai (9-1). The Mustangs ousted defending Long Island champion Elwood/John Glenn from the playoffs a week earlier, and they looked sharp in their final home game of the season on Friday night. Donadio’s play and Mount Sinai’s defense proved to be a winning recipe, earning the Mustangs a place in the county final. They will play the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between Bishop McGann-Mercy (7-2) and Babylon (9-0). The title game will be played on Nov. 24 or 25 at Stony Brook University.
Mount Sinai has a potent one-two punch in its backfield in the form of identical twins, seniors Mark and Mike Donadio. Mark plays fullback and free safety; Mike plays halfback and outside linebacker.
The brothers bear such a strong resemblance to each other that Mount Sinai coach Vinnie Ammirato needs a second or two to tell which one is which. Their appearance isn’t the only thing they have in common, either.
“Their running styles are identical,” Ammirato said. “The good thing about both of them is they are always moving forward, even when they make cuts.”
Mark Donadio had a lot of forward motion on Friday night — 188 yards worth, to be exact. He did most of his damage in the first half when he picked up 130 of his 141 rushing yards.
“I felt great,” Mark Donadio said. “There were a lot of holes to run through, and it just opened up nice for me.”
As if to show that he can do more than just run with the ball, Mark Donadio had a touchdown reception with 5 minutes 7 seconds left in the third quarter. He received a swing pass from Billy Tartaglia before weaving his way 47 yards to the end zone. Chris Prestia’s extra point made it 21-0. It was one of only two passes Mount Sinai threw in the game. When a team runs like Mount Sinai does, it doesn’t have to pass much.
The game had been scoreless until the first play of the second quarter. On a third-down play from the Shoreham-Wading River 10-yard line,
Mark Donadio took a handoff and cut to the left side, going untouched for the score.
Then Mark Donadio capped Mount Sinai’s next offensive series by showing good body control and zigzagging 15 yards for another touchdown.
No. 3 Shoreham-Wading River (7-3) didn’t reach Mount Sinai’s red zone until the fourth quarter. The Wildcats advanced to the Mount Sinai 16-yard line on one series, but back-to-back sacks by Ryan Clark and Sal Maresca put an end to that threat. Then, a fumble recovery by Scott Lavey gave Shoreham-Wading River another chance to score. The Wildcats reached the Mount Sinai 5 before Bryan Reed recorded a game-ending sack. Mount Sinai finished with five sacks, including two and a half by Clark.
“They’re sure tacklers and they make you make plays,” said Millheiser, whose team was held scoreless in the eight quarters it played against Mount Sinai this year. “They’re not going to give away anything soft.”
Isreal Squires was involved in 11 tackles and Anthony Lima had a hand in 10 for Shoreham-Wading River.
Shoreham-Wading River’s feature back, Tyler Anderson, had a productive game. The junior picked up 159 yards from 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 20 yards.
“He’s a tremendous back with a ton of upside,” Millheiser said. “He’s a great back, and I think the sky’s the limit. I don’t know if we’ve seen the best from him yet.”
Mount Sinai usually plays its home games at night, but because of budgetary considerations, Friday’s game was the only home game this year that the Mustangs played under the lights.
“I think Friday night football at Mount Sinai is something pretty special,” Ammirato said, “and I’m glad they got to play their last home game” at night.
Some tears on the Shoreham-Wading River sideline after the game were evidence that the result wasn’t what the Wildcats wanted, but they clearly can’t complain about the strides they made this season.
“We played tough to the end,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep going. Sometimes you just fall short.”
If anyone in Shoreham-Wading River history rushed for more than 328 yards, coach Matt Millheiser had a strong hunch who it might have been.
So after Saturday afternoon’s 42-14 Division IV victory at East Hampton (1-3), Millheiser called former Wildcat Brendan Kelly. A senior on the football team at the University of Central Florida, Kelly (’08) finished his high school career with Shoreham as one of the most accomplished backs in county history.
“I said the only kid I could think in the past who would have had a big game was Brendan Kelly,” Millheiser said. “And he said he only had a 301 and 310, so I guess it’s a team record.”
That honor would now go to Tyler Anderson after a five-touchdown, 328-yard rushing day that will be one to remember.
Perhaps most amazing, he only needed 11 carries to amass that many yards. He finished the day with an absurd 29.8 yards per carry.
Anderson scored on runs of 48, 65, 21, 80 and 65 yards.
The final run almost didn’t happen.
With the game well in hand, Millheiser had Anderson on the sideline as backups Avery Friedman and Jordan Wright took over the rushing duties. But at one point Friedman and Wright both got banged up and the Wildcats needed a back to go in for a play. So Millheiser called in Anderson.
“I put him back in and boom, another touchdown,” Millheiser said. “I ran out of backs so I threw him back in there.”
The Wildcats finished with 521 rushing yards. Friedman had a huge day himself, rushing for 128 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Quarterback Danny Hughes threw only one pass all game, a 15-yard completion to Isreal Squires.
Shoreham got off to a tremendous start by taking a 21-0 lead after one quarter.
The Wildcats led 35-7 at halftime and never looked back.
Shoreham improved to 3-1 at the midway point of the regular season. It puts the Wildcats in position to secure a top-four seed and home game in the playoffs if they can duplicate that effort over the second half.
Millheiser said they’re not thinking that far ahead just yet, and are more concerned with entering the playoffs healthy and playing well, regardless of what the seed might be.
“Closing on all cylinders going into the playoffs is really the most important thing,” he said.
The second half of the regular season won’t be easy. The Wildcats return home next weekend to face defending Long Island champion John Glenn. The Knights have won two straight after opening the season with two surprising losses.
The Wildcats also have McGann-Mercy and Babylon. Both teams are 4-0. Babylon is in the driver’s seat for the division title after knocking off Mount Sinai Saturday afternoon in come-from-behind fashion.