WILDCATS 35, ROYALS 0
For those keeping score at home, the number of ice baths Shoreham-Wading River football coach Matt Millheiser has been doused with after a game this season stands at two.
The first came after a road win in Babylon, only the second in program history for the Wildcats against the Panthers. The second came Friday afternoon, after the Wildcats rolled past Port Jefferson, 35-0, to put the finishing touches on the program’s first 8-0 season.
“Let’s hurry this up!” a frigid Millheiser said during an interview after getting blindsided by the ice water.
In a few weeks, Millheiser may find himself on the receiving end of yet another cold surprise. The Division IV regular season champions, the Wildcats will enter the postseason as the No. 1 seed, with home field advantage in the first two rounds, and the favorites to bring home a county title, which would be the first in program history.
“To get 8-0, it takes a lot and I’m proud of the kids,” Millheiser said.
The Wildcats will open the playoffs at home next weekend against the No. 8 seed, an opponent still to be determined. The Royals, who came into the day seventh in power points, were no match for the Wildcats.
Shoreham scored touchdowns on each of its first five possessions, taking a 35-0 lead with 9:26 left in the second quarter. The Wildcats, conscious to not run up the score, eased up their attack the rest of the game with mostly reserves playing.
“It’s something real special, something this program has never experienced before,” said Shoreham quarterback Daniel Hughes. “We’re honored to be the first team in school history to do this. It’s a great achievement.”
Hughes had a relatively easy afternoon. He threw three passes, completing each one to wide receiver Isreal Squires. Two went for touchdowns, a 25-yarder and a 53-yarder.
“Whenever you come out with a good start, it’s always a little easier to play from ahead,” Hughes said.
The Wildcats benefitted from consecutive turnovers to start the game from Port Jefferson, each one on a fumble that set up Shoreham with great field position. Junior Chris Rosati punched in the first touchdown with a 10-yard run. He had 40 yards rushing on the drive. Squires broke two big runs on the Wildcats’ next two possessions to turn short gains on a pass into touchdowns.
Rosati added the fourth score on a 39-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter that made it 28-0.
“We’ve really worked hard at having multiple weapons,” Millheiser said. “It’s been more effective this year I think because last year everyone would key up on Tyler [Anderson]. We had a couple other options, but everyone would key to stop Ty. This year we have three and four options, which makes it very difficult to game plan.”
Bryce Casey broke a 61-yard run for the final Shoreham touchdown with 9:26 left in the second quarter.
For the Shoreham defense, it was the third shutout of the season. The Royals threatened with one late drive in the fourth quarter, but an interception gave the ball back to Shoreham.
The game was moved up to Friday afternoon because of poor weather in the forecast for Saturday. It made for an unusual feel. The bleachers were sparse, but it hardly dampened the enthusiasm on the Wildcats’ sideline.
“We’re always prepared to play, no matter which day it is,” Hughes said. “They could tell us as we’re walking out to practice that we’re going to play today and we’re going to be ready.”
The Wildcats haven’t been tested much this season outside of games against Babylon and John Glenn. To win a county title, they’ll likely have to go through both teams again. Glenn should finish as the No. 2 seed. Babylon is currently ranked fourth.
“I think we have to focus on the little things,” Hughes said. “Any slip-up, teams are going to take advantage of it.”
The benefit of winning so many games by wide margins is the Wildcats rarely have to get deep into the playbook.
When asked if the team can still add some wrinkles to the playbook come playoff time, Millheiser smiled and said: “Maybe a few, yeah.”