It’s a play the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats have run countless times before — a read option for quarterback Xavier Arline with a wide receiver.
In every instance that he could remember dating back to last season, interim head coach Virgil Romer said Arline has kept the ball himself on the run play. The Wildcats opened Saturday’s game at Port Jefferson with the play, only this time with a surprise twist.
Arline handed off to wide receiver Tyler Schwarz, who found nothing but open space in front of him as he raced up the right sideline 45 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, 12 seconds into the game, the Wildcats led 7-0.
“I wasn’t really expecting getting it,” Schwarz said. “I thought [Arline] was going to take it.”
Romer said the blocking lined up on the play and everything came together perfectly.
“He never got touched,” Romer said. “It was the best way a play could go, basically. It set up the entire game really well.”
It was the first rushing touchdown of Schwarz’ career, and there were plenty more for the Wildcats as they steamrolled the preseason No. 4 seed, 56-14. The Wildcats improved to 2-0 in Division IV ahead of a road game at Southampton next week.
Six different players scored touchdowns as the Wildcats tallied more than 420 yards of offense. Arline scored three touchdowns — all in the first half — bringing his season total up to eight.
It was a relatively quiet day for Arline, who needed only 12 carries to reach 121 yards and the three scores. By the middle of third quarter, he took a seat for backup Chris Visintin, who scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter.
The Wildcats’ defense was stout throughout and contained Port Jefferson’s dynamic quarterback, Sam Florio. He was held to 67 rushing yards and he completed just four passes. The Wildcats intercepted two passes and nearly had a third on a close play by Arline that was ruled an incompletion.
Florio got banged up on a play early in the second quarter and took a seat on the bench. The Wildcats pounced, as Schwarz intercepted backup Luke Filippi and returned the ball to the Royals’ 10-yard line. Two plays later, Arline cruised into the end zone on a nine-yard run to make it 28-7.
Romer said defensively the team focused on stopping the Royals’ counter and trap run plays with Florio.
“My biggest scare was their trip stuff when they had three wide receivers,” he said. “They did get us on one slant, but when you play a team that passes that much, that’s my biggest fear. You’re either going to bust a coverage or line up the wrong way and they’re going to take advantage. Obviously we held it together pretty well today.”
The Wildcats went with a hurry up offense for much of the first half.
“We go as fast as we can to try and constantly be pushing it downfield and making them tired,” said junior tackle Dylan Blanco.
A two-way player, Blanco was part of the defensive line with Matt Zahn, Jake Wilson and Jeffrey Lachenmeyer that bottled up Port Jefferson’s rushing attack.
“We were just really focused on making sure we have to get in the right gaps and keep coordination with our backs,” Blanco said.
The only offensive touchdown the Wildcats allowed came on an eight-play drive in the first quarter when Florio connected on a 10-yard pass play with Aidan Kaminska. The only other points allowed came late on a kickoff return for a touchdown, which would have likely been called back by a penalty. But the referees waved the flag off with the Wildcats already well ahead.
The Wildcats got rushing touchdowns from Max Barone, David Tedesco and Sean Miller.
Port Jefferson fell to 1-1 after a Week 1 win at Hampton Bays.
The Wildcats played their second game without coach Aden Smith, who remains under investigation by the school district following an Aug. 30 scrimmage. More than 20 players attended Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting in support of Smith, whose status remains uncertain.
Romer said football wise the team was able to get into a normal routine this week leading up to Saturday’s game.
Top photo caption: Defensive back Tyler Schwarz intercepts a pass in the second quarter. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)