Xavier Arline and his offensive line. It’s a friendly, symbiotic relationship that has worked out exceedingly well for all the Shoreham-Wading River parties concerned.
Arline, SWR’s star quarterback, routinely credits his linemen for the job they do opening up holes for him. All Arline needs is a bit of an opening and — whoosh! — he’s gone.
That was the case again and again in the Long Island Class IV football final Saturday. Arline dashed for four touchdowns and 265 yards and passed for two more TDs while totaling 357 all-purpose yards in SWR’s 49-7 dismantling of Seaford at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium. It was a powerful final statement by the senior, who played his final football game for SWR.
After SWR secured its fourth Long Island championship in six years, Arline heaped praise on the big, young men who blocked for him.
“Football is the ultimate team game,” he told assembled media. “I can’t do anything by myself, so my big gains are their great gains, and I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by guys that just protect me with all they have, no matter what.
“I have these guys over every Wednesday for dinner to show my appreciation for them because they do the dirty work. They don’t get the credit they deserve ever. No lineman does. That’s part of being a lineman, so it’s my job to give the credit when it’s due.”
That line of Dylan Blanco, Jake Ekert, Jeffrey Lachenmeyer, James LaValle and Matt Zahn surely got the job done as SWR registered 406 yards, 326 on the ground.
“I think we were just all playing with a purpose,” Zahn said. “I think everyone was playing for the person next to them, and I think at the end of the day that’s the biggest thing. It’s a mental game, football, and I think when you have a drive like that it will really just propel a team. We knew we had to come out and be physical, and we did just that.”
SWR coach Aden Smith said the O-line’s performance was a testament to the “outstanding” work his line coaches, Tom Foley and Robert Puckey, had done. “They pay attention to detail, and we were able to get it done,” said Smith.
David Tedesco, who ran for 86 yards and a TD himself, said: “We have the best line on the island, by far, bar none, and then we have a great player like Xavier, and we all work together, and we all just stand by each other. We’re a family. We all work together. We don’t have a bunch of good individuals. We have a good team.”
So, what is it like blocking for the electrifying Arline, whose day included three straight TD runs of 51, 67 and 54 yards?
Zahn said he doesn’t always get to see what Arline’s doing as it’s happening because he’s busy blocking, “but then I get home and I’m watching the film and I’m like, ‘Jesus.’ It’s just incredible what he can do. I mean, he just makes people look silly game in and game out.”
Arline was all smiles afterward, and for good reason. He said, “I got to grind it out one last time with the guys I love, and I couldn’t be more happy.”
• Defense ‘D’-elivers
One of SWR’s outstanding features this year has been its consistent defense. In 11 games, the Wildcats allowed an average of 10.7 points per game, with three shutouts. That defense rose to the occasion once again, with 12 tackles by Mike Casazza, nine by Dylan Kiely, six by Robert McGee, four by Jeffrey Lachenmeyer and an interception by Xavier Arline. Seaford was held to 44 first-half yards and 192 for the game. The Vikings were 29 seconds away from being shut out before scoring against SWR’s second-string defense.
“Defensively, we had a tremendous effort,” Aden Smith said. “I mean, guys ran to the ball, they swarmed the football, which was part of our game plan, and they just attacked.”
• From fan to player
David Tedesco, a junior, remembers being a spectator for SWR’s first three Long Island titles from 2014-16.
“I was sitting in those stands with all the other kids,” he said. “So this is kind of surreal, especially to be on a team like this. I love it, I love it. There’s nothing I like more.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River offensive linemen James LaValle (78) and Matt Zahn (middle) join Xavier Arline in the end zone after one of Arline’s four touchdown runs. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)