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Football: A true Black Friday for Wildcats

Black Friday took on a different meaning for the Shoreham-Wading River football team Friday night.

SWR, bidding for what would have been its fourth Long Island Class IV championship, was denied emphatically by a power-running Cold Spring Harbor team. CSH ran over the Wildcats — literally and figuratively — by a 42-20 score for its third Long Island title and first since 2005.

“They ran all over us,” SWR quarterback/cornerback Xavier Arline said after the game, played in frigid cold at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. “No team has ever run all over us like that.”

CSH (10-2) did it with a heavy dose of Daniel Striano. The senior running back/defensive back ran 26 times for 215 yards and three touchdowns. It was part of a Seahawks offense that generated 331 yards on the ground to SWR’s 83. The Wildcats had only two net rushing yards in the second half.

“It’s sweet,” Striano told reporters. “We all did our jobs today.”

SWR (10-2) and its rookie head coach, Aden Smith, were looking to add to the three Long Island titles the team won from 2014-16, the only other years the Wildcats have advanced this far.

But CSH beat SWR at its own game — the running game. CSH controlled possession, snapping 61 offensive plays to SWR’s 35. The time of possession comparison was telling: 33 minutes and 1 second for CSH and 14:59 for SWR.

“It’s my job to run down the clock, but it’s everyone’s job to make those holes for me and everyone’s job to get down the field and burn down that clock, and we did a great job today,” Striano said. “Everybody was pushing that big defensive line from Shoreham.”

That put SWR in an unusual and uncomfortable situation.

“Yeah, it’s unusual,” SWR running back/safety Dominic Visintin said. “It [stinks] for us. It’s hard for us when we’re not getting what we want. When our game plan is to rush the ball and get yards and yards after that and we can’t do that, it sets us back.”

CSH set the tone by opening the scoring on its first two possessions. Raymond Costa floated a 12-yard TD pass to Thomas Milana in the left corner of the end zone and later faked a handoff before spinning around the left side for a 22-yard TD run.

Those scores were sandwiched around a 41-yard TD run by Arline. Arline dumped a 27-yard TD pass to Visintin before running in the two-point conversion to knot the score at 14-14 with 2:42 left in the second quarter.

Arline finished with 73 yards and two TDs from 17 carries. The junior also went 8-for-14 passing for 124 yards.

Before the first half ended, though, CSH capped an eight-play drive with Costa’s second TD pass of the game with no time left on the clock. Aidan Adomaites made a tremendous grab of the ball before being flipped over by SWR’s Jake Meeker. Adomaites held onto the ball while falling in the end zone. Striano set up that score with a 56-yard dash that took him to the SWR 4-yard line before Tyler Schwarz brought him down.

“We were extremely motivated going into the second half after that touchdown,” said Striano, who finished off CSH’s first three series of the second half with TD runs, including a 38-yarder. “Everything was working for us.”

Jacob Bruno ran 10 times for 70 CSH yards.

SWR’s Johnny Schwarz caught four passes for 77 yards. He also stripped the ball away from Costa and recovered the fumble in the second quarter for one of CSH’s few miscues.

“We kept our head up the whole game until the game ended and we pushed until the last whistle blew and we gave everything we got,” said Meeker, who along with Mike Casazza made 10 tackles each for SWR.

Did CSH surprise SWR?

“It’s the Long Island Championships, so you know every team is going to be good, so you can’t take anyone lightly,” Arline said. “You can put all the Xs and Os aside, but at the end of the day, football is a game of heart, and whoever has more heart is going to come out and win the game.”

Asked the same question, Visintin replied: “I don’t think you ever underestimate an opponent, but … they just played better than we did. I just think they outworked us and outplayed us.”

SWR accomplished a lot this year. The Wildcats won 10 games and raised a fourth Suffolk County Division IV championship plaque, but it was hard to appreciate all of that right after this defeat.

Arline said the season “was special, but no one remembers the team that came in second place.”

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Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Johnny Schwarz (6) and Dominic Visintin (3) converge on Cold Spring Harbor quarterback Raymond Costa. Schwarz forced a fumble on the play and recovered the ball. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)