Although they call him “X-Man,” he is not a superhero. But that doesn’t mean Xavier Arline doesn’t bring considerable physical weapons to the Shoreham-Wading River High School football team.
A backup quarterback last year for the three-time Long Island Class IV champions and 2016 Rutgers Trophy winners, Arline looks to play a bigger role on the team this year. Considerably bigger.
The sophomore could find himself behind center as the starting quarterback for the Wildcats when they open their season Sept. 9 at Bayport-Blue Point.
The position hasn’t been won yet, though. Senior quarterback Noah Block has made “great improvements,” said coach Matt Millheiser. After Friday morning’s practice, Millheiser said: “I think even kids like Xavier still have to prove something in order to get themselves a starting role. He’s looked very good, and I think the improvement of Noah Block has pushed him, and competition gives you the best success, so the more competition we have across the field, the better.”
Arline was a backup last year to Kevin Cutinella, who has graduated. Graduated running back Chris Gray wowed spectators last year with his dazzling cuts and speed bursts, but Arline showed he has some moves of his own, too. “Xavier is one of those kids that last year he played a little bit here, a little bit there, and he had some flashes of really great ability,” said Millheiser.
A dynamic quarterback at 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, Arline brings the ability to pass and run. “My gift is my speed, so I try to use that as much as possible,” he said.
Liam Mahoney, a junior who plays guard and defensive end, said: “His speed is ridiculous. He can hit the holes fast.”
With the possibility of being a starting quarterback before him, Arline sounds confident and sure of himself.
“Quarterback is a very complex position,” he said. “It’s not just throwing the ball or running the ball, it’s being able to lead the offense and command and kind of be a leader out there on the field, but it’s nothing I haven’t experienced before. I can step up to the challenge.”
As for the coming season, he said: “I feel a little more into it because I know the role that I’m going to have to play is greater than last year. But, like I said, these guys believe in me; I believe in them. We’re just going to get it done together.”
* The trials of training camp
No one ever said training camp is easy. And it isn’t. Just ask some SWR players.
“It’s sweating pounds of water every practice,” Liam Mahoney said. “It’s awful, but it’s all worth it in the end.”
That is pretty much Xavier Arline’s take on it as well. “Training camp is tough … but it’s all worth it in the end,” Arline said. “When you win the Long Island championship, you look back to Day 1, and everything means so much more.”
* Smile for the camera
Friday was, in essence, Media Day for SWR. Following practice, the Wildcats put on their team jerseys for individual and team photos. In addition, journalists from the Riverhead News-Review were on hand to record practice action and conduct interviews for a video that is to be released early next month.
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River sophomore quarterback Xavier Arline looking for a receiver during Friday’s practice. (Credit: Bob Liepa)