For the upper echelon teams in Division IV, lopsided games are to be expected. The match-ups against lower seeded teams almost inevitably end as one-sided affairs with backups running down the clock in the second half.
It’s those couple games against the fellow top seeds that define a team’s season.
For Shoreham-Wading River, one of those tests came Friday night against the unbeaten John Glenn Knights, who already owned a win against the preseason top seed, Babylon, in Week 2.
A game that had all the makings of a close, down-to-the-wire battle turned out to be anything but. The Wildcats, after grabbing a 20-0 halftime lead, never let up in as complete a performance as they could have hoped for in a shocking 40-6 blowout under the lights at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field.
It was the kind of performance that legitimizes this new-look Wildcats team under first-year coach Aden Smith as a threat to emerge as the top team in the county come November.
Everything clicked for the Wildcats (3-1) from the offense, to defense to special teams. When the Knights (3-1) scored their lone touchdown on a long drive to start the third quarter, the Wildcats answered right back with a touchdown of their own. The Wildcats never let the momentum slip.
Quarterback Xavier Arline had his hand in nearly every Wildcats touchdown. He rushed for three and threw for two more.
“Every game you play is big, but there’s a sense of urgency especially when you play Glenn, which has always been a rival,” said Arline, who scored on runs of 49, 21 and 22 yards.
The Wildcats won the battle at the line and Glenn’s running game could never get on track. Glenn quarterback Kyle Szokoli is a dual threat with his arm and running the ball. The Wildcats were aggressive sending defenders after him when he attempted to throw, forcing him to move and make throws on the run.
He still had an efficient game, completing 14 of 20 passes, but the Wildcats’ defense limited the big plays and came up huge several times on third down.
The Wildcats led 14-0 when they got the ball back on their own 33 with 2:03 left in the second quarter. Arline helped quickly move the team down field setting them up for possibly one more score. The Wildcats faced a third-and-10 from their own 34 with 5 seconds left, giving them just enough time for one play.
Sophomore Johnny Schwarz lined up on the left side of the formation at wide receiver and ran a post route. As he reached the end zone, he turned and leaped as the ball from Arline approached. He grabbed the ball one step in front of the defensive back, Szokoli, and held it with his left arm as he fell back toward the ground.
“Xavier told me it’s a 50/50 ball, just go up for it, I’m throwing it,” Schwarz said.
The thrilling touchdown with no time remaining gave the Wildcats a 20-0 halftime lead and all the momentum heading into the second half.
Senior Dominic Visintin added two touchdowns for the Wildcats as well. He connected with Arline on a 46-yard pass play in the third quarter and then scored from four yards out on the final touchdown of the game midway through the fourth.
After Mount Sinai defeated Babylon Friday night 11-8, the final two undefeated teams in Division IV are the Mustangs and Wyandanch, who play Saturday against Bayport-Blue Point.
The race for Division IV supremacy is just heating up.
Top photo caption: A wall of Shoreham defenders bring down a Glenn runner in Friday’s game. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)