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Top Sports Stories 2016: Third straight L.I. title for SWR football

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The season began with the weight of a 24-game unbeaten streak on the shoulders of the Shoreham-Wading River football team.

By Week 2, the streak had ended. Babylon, the longtime power of Division IV, defeated the Wildcats in overtime and rode the victory to an undefeated regular season.

The Wildcats, after losing again in Week 5, appeared to be a longshot to repeat as county and Long Island champions.

But a win over a strong Miller Place team in Week 6 provided the kind of resurgent spark the Wildcats needed. Shoreham never lost again.

The Wildcats proved dethroning the champs would be no easy task for any team when they blew out Miller Place in a semifinal playoff game. It set the stage for a rematch with 10-0 Babylon at Stony Brook University in the Division IV county final. After a tight first half that saw the teams tied at 14, the Wildcats took control in the second half behind a superb game from running back Chris Gray. The senior scored three touchdowns in the second half, including a 40-yard run, and four total. The Wildcats’ defense limited Babylon to one second-half touchdown and Shoreham prevailed 36-21.

Another victory followed the next week against Seaford in the Class IV Long Island final. Once again, Gray led the way with three touchdowns as Shoreham won 20-10 to clinch a third straight championship.

The Wildcats reaped plenty of rewards from the victory. The team was honored for the second time in three years with the Rutgers Trophy as the top team in the county. Senior Ethan Wiederkehr won the Bob Zellner Award as the best lineman and was a co-winner of the Rob Burnett Award as the top defensive player. Gray was a finalist for the Hansen Award as the top player in the county.

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