Speed kills — and thrills. And wins Long Island championships.
Fleetness of foot was the outstanding quality exhibited by the Shoreham-Wading River High School football team as it sped to its first Long Island championship on Sunday. It was Isreal Squires’ blazing speed, especially, that drew raves from the press box at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
Squires sure can fly, and the Wildcats soared, 47-13, in the Long Island Class IV final over a Roosevelt team that is pretty fast itself.
“It’s a great asset to have,” Squires said. “Once you have speed, you just get to the outside, run around them.”
The Wildcats are blessed with speedsters, most notably Squires, Chris Rosati and Bryce Casey.
“Some of the fastest kids on Long Island are on the team,” said Bobby Puckey, a guard and defensive tackle.
But it was Squires who made the biggest impression of all. The senior, who plays split end and free safety, is a track athlete built for speed. That comes in handy on the football field.
Squires made his final football game for the Wildcats a memorable one, scoring two touchdowns (by run and reception), intercepting a pass and making 8 tackles. On Monday he was named a finalist for the who was a finalist for the Tom Cassese Award as the top defensive back in the county.
But what will linger in minds more than the statistics are one play in particular, the play of the game. It came late in the second quarter. On second down from the Shoreham 20-yard line, quarterback Danny Hughes threw a low pass that Squires collected about 20 yards downfield near the right sideline. Squires then darted past two defenders as he crossed over the middle of the field toward the opposite sideline. Several Rough Riders appeared to be closing in on him for an instant, and then Squires bolted into another gear, turning on the jets before gliding across the goal line for a touchdown.
“You can’t teach that,” Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser said. “He was just born with that. I think their sideline was shocked when he got in the end zone there.”
They may not have been the only ones.
“He’s fast, one of the fastest kids I’ve ever seen,” Rosati said. “He’s quick.”
Rosati himself used a speed burst to fire through an opening in the line and dash 31 yards for a score earlier in the game. “He’s got wheels,” said Squires.
Squires said he ran the 400 meters as a freshman in 50 seconds flat. He has had to contend with ankle injuries the last two years, but there is no evidence that they have slowed him.
On Squires’ first touchdown of the day, he took a toss around the left end and raced untouched 17 yards for the first of six unanswered Shoreham touchdowns.
The Wildcats were off and running. One sensed they weren’t going to be caught, either.
“Speed and just hitting, that’s what we had,” Squires said. “We love to hit. We’re good at it and we showed it today.”
Undefeated Shoreham (12-0), this team of destiny, achieved everything, really, that it wanted to achieve. Look at what the Wildcats accomplished in this season, which they dedicated to the memory of one of their teammates, Tom Cutinella, who died after collapsing at a game on Oct. 1:
Clinching first place in Suffolk County Division IV. Check.
Winning their first county title. Check.
Capturing their first Long Island championship. Check.
Being awarded Monday night with the Rutgers Trophy, which goes to the top team in Suffolk. Check.
Said Squires, “Honestly, it’s just the greatest feeling ever.”
Bob Liepa is the sports editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at [email protected].