Everything about Ethan Wiederkehr is big, from his size (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) to the impact he can have on a football game to his future, which includes big-time college football.
Wiederkehr not only looks the part of a Big 10 Conference player, but it looks like he will be one. In June, Wiederkehr made news by formally committing to play for Northwestern, one of 18 colleges he said he received offers from. The first signing day for players is Feb. 1, 2017.
Of course, before then, Wiederkehr and his Shoreham-Wading River High School teammates have some business to attend to, such as defending their Long Island Class IV championship, which they have won the past two years, and extending a 24-game winning streak. It is the longest current winning streak in Suffolk County and the fifth-longest in county history, according to Andy Slawson of Newsday.
The Wildcats have set a high bar for themselves. How do they top what they have done the last two years?
“By going 36 and 0, and hopefully competing for a Rutgers Trophy,” Wiederkehr said. “That would be awesome.”
The first step toward that began Monday with Shoreham’s first two practices. Wiederkehr figures prominently in Shoreham’s plans. The senior, a four-year varsity starter, plays tight end and defensive end. An excellent blocker, he is projected as being an offensive tackle in college. He is regarded as one of the top linemen and defensive players in Suffolk County.
“I rate him a 99 on my Madden team, that’s for sure,” said Kevin Cutinella, a senior quarterback and safety. “No, he’s a great player, a monster. … He’s one of the best I’ve seen.”
Wiederkehr’s strength is blocking and opening holes in opposing defenses. So, what it is that makes him a standout? His Size? Speed? Strength? Technique?
“A combination of all of them,” coach Matt Millheiser said. “For a big guy, he’s got very, very good agility and very, very good feet, and he’s very quick off the ball. So when you start putting all those things together, you get a kid going to Northwestern.”
Millheiser said that when Wiederkehr worked out for colleges, they saw his raw ability. “They’re looking at his frame and his strength and his agility and his long arms,” the coach said. “Like I said, the sky’s the limit because he’s barely scratched the limit on his technique.”
Wiederkehr’s football future may have been mapped out a long time ago. His father, Hans, an assistant coach for Shoreham, played for Syracuse and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ethan said his father is his strength coach and is with him in the gym every day.
“You kind of put all the dots together there … and you realized he was going to be something special,” Millheiser said. He added: “I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a blessing to have, and I’ll probably just retire when he leaves.”
Home, Sweet Home. The Wildcats have a home again. Because of work on their field, they didn’t have any true home games last season. But the sparkling new Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field has since been completed and the Wildcats will give the field its football christening in their season opener against Center Moriches on Sept. 9.
“I love it,” Kevin Cutinella said of the field named after his late brother, who died in 2014 after collapsing in a game while playing for the Wildcats. “You couldn’t have asked for a better field.”
Photo caption: Ethan Wiederkehr’s blocking ability has opened a path for him to Northwestern. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)