Nothing says welcome back quite like a 34-7 victory.
Shoreham-Wading River’s football team capped off the first half of the regular season in impressive fashion Friday night. Perhaps it was a tribute to the return of head coach Aden Smith, who had been removed from the team for its first three games while the school district investigated an allegation that he had grabbed an Islip player around the neck area during a preseason scrimmage.
Perhaps it was a way to make senior quarterback Robert McGee, a transfer from St. Anthony’s this week, feel at home in his return to his hometown school district.
Regardless, top-seeded SWR (4-0), the defending Suffolk County Division IV champion, gave No. 3 seed Elwood/John Glenn (1-2) all it could handle at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. Senior quarterback Xavier Arline ran for two touchdowns and passed for another two while the SWR defense held Glenn to 79 first-half yards.
As is his way, Arline shined, running for 136 yards from 15 carries. That included a 24-yard TD run in which he hopped from one direction to another, and a 54-yard dash to the end zone that was a testament to his sizzling speed.
“As soon as a I get past the line, I just let my instincts take over,” said Arline, who has run for 15 TDs and 690 yards this season.
Arline (11 of 16, 217 yards) has an arm, too. He swung a 35-yard scoring pass to Johnny Schwarz and flipped a screen pass to Mike Casazza for a 40-yard TD connection in which Casazza broke a tackle on the right side before taking off.
“He’s a very good football player,” Smith said of Casazza. “He’s a three-year starter for us. He’s meticulous. He’s very detail-oriented. He works really hard. He doesn’t take any reps off. He’s a great leader.”
SWR’s other TD was a special team product. Thomas Zabransky, standing in his own end zone, had his punt blocked by Jeffrey Lachenmeyer and Jake Wilson fell on the ball for a TD.
SWR outgained Glenn, 415 yards to 187, as the Wildcats’ defense excelled. Casazza (fumble recovery), Anthony Giordano and Dylan Blanco (one sack) made seven tackles each, and Max Barone had an interception.
SWR led, 21-0, before its shutout bid was lost. Thomas Giaramita (12 of 23, 112 yards) delivered a 5-yard dart to Justin Vega (six catches, 52 yards) on a slant for a TD with 1 minute and 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
McGee, who joined the team for Thursday’s practice, was on the field for five kickoffs.
“I thought the defense played tough,” Smith said. “I thought that Glenn had a good game plan, which was to run the clock down, eat up clock. The best defense for them is to keep the ball out of our offense’s hands, and they did a good job of doing that.”
As for the Wildcats, he said, “They’re reaping the rewards of their hard work.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s Max Barone, Jake Wilson and Johnny Schwarz, from left, gang-tackle Elwood/John Glenn quarterback Thomas Giaramita. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)