The Cutinella name became synonymous with Shoreham-Wading River football last fall. By next season when a new turf field is completed, the Wildcats will play on the Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field, a tribute to their fallen teammate who died last October. His No. 54 flies as a retired number.
When the Wildcats kicked off their 2015 season Friday night in Riverhead, the name Cutinella rang out for a different reason: Tom’s younger brother, Kevin.
Now a junior in his second season on varsity, Kevin Cutinella raced 56 yards early in the first quarter Friday against Bishop McGann-Mercy, cutting his way through the defense all the way into the end zone for the Wildcats’ first touchdown of the year and the first of his career.
“It felt amazing,” Cutinella said after the game. “I’m not going to lie.”
It was a fitting start to the season, a 35-0 win for the defending Long Island champion Wildcats.
“I kind of think that’s amazing that he got the first one,” said senior Chris Rosati. “I think Tom was looking over him and gave him a big high-five after he scored.”
Cutinella started out last season as mostly a special teams player. After his brother died, he stayed on the sidelines before suiting up again as the team advanced in the playoffs.
Now a year later, Cutinella finds himself taking on a multi-faceted role on offense, a role that hasn’t quite been defined just yet. He’s a utility-man of sorts, a player who can do a little of everything: block, run, catch.
“He’s all over the place on offense and that’s because he’s very good at a lot of things,” said Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser.
Cutinella carried the ball five times for 84 yards with the touchdown and also caught a pass for 10 yards. The Wildcats led 28-0 at halftime and most of the starters got to watch from the sidelines during the second half.
Cutinella said he sees his role more as a blocker than runner.
“Blocking’s more important,” he said. “With the offensive line we have, obviously the blocking gets us touchdowns and easy runs.”
After Cutinella scored the first touchdown, the next three all went to Rosati. He scored easily on a 3-yard run to make it 14-0 and then dazzled with a 62-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He raced to the right, ran out of space as the defense appeared to close in on a tackle for a loss. Instead, Rosati cut back to the left, found a seam up the left sideline and raced all the way to the end zone to make it 21-0.
“I kind of ran too far and missed the hole,” Rosati said. “So I just turned my head and looked back and kind of ran around. I saw my quarterback, Jason Curran, throw a great block and then I got past one guy and went up the sideline.”
He scored once more a 24-yard run a few minutes later as the Wildcats quickly grabbed a 28-0 lead. Rosati finished with 121 rushing yards on nine carries.
The Wildcats appear to have no shortage of players who can run the ball. And with an offensive line with the size and experience of Shoreham’s, finding holes likely won’t be too great a challenge this year for whomever is running.
Nine different players carried the ball at least twice Friday.
Shoreham’s defense, which allowed the fewest points of any team in the county last year, picked up right where it left off. Faced against a formidable quarterback in Mercy senior Kevin Santacroce, the Wildcats still managed to pitch a shutout. Santacroce completed 10 of 24 passes for 112 yards. Five of those completions went to fellow senior Marco Sciara, who tallied 68 receiving yards.
Mercy couldn’t gain any traction on the ground.
The Wildcats (1-0) will travel to Hampton Bays next week while Mercy (0-1) returns home for another challenging game against John Glenn.
Photo Caption: Shoreham-Wading River junior Kevin Cutinella carries the ball in the first quarter against McGann-Mercy Friday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)