Top Sports Stories 2019: SWR football wins fourth L.I. title

The season began with hefty expectations around Shoreham-Wading River, which has become the norm in recent years. The Wildcats were coming off a loss in the Long Island Championship and, with the return of quarterback Xavier Arline, were eager to go back there and win.

Before the march to a championship could begin, the Wildcats faced unexpected adversity when coach Aden Smith was removed before the first game pending an investigation from the Board of Education. Players came to the coach’s defense at a school board meeting and Smith was ultimately reinstated after missing the first three games.

The coaching change didn’t impact the players on the field, as they raced out to a 3-0 start.

What had already been an unusual season took a second twist midway through the regular season when news broke that St. Anthony’s quarterback, Robert McGee, transferred back into his hometown district and joined the Wildcats. Rarely in high school sports does a team suddenly gain a player of McGee’s caliber.

The Wildcats slowly began to work McGee in on special teams and then on defense.

The team faced its next bit of adversity when Mount Sinai arrived in Shoreham and handed the Wildcats a 35-21 defeat. The Mustangs’ victory set the stage for the Mustangs to earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and the two teams were on collision course to meet for a second straight year in the finals.

In a repeat of last year, the Wildcats avenged their regular season loss, playing a dominant second half on a rainy, cold afternoon to record a 35-14 victory. One week later at Hofstra University, the Wildcats dismantled Nassau champion Seaford to win the fourth Class IV L.I. title in program history. It was a memorable afternoon for Arline, who rushed for four touchdowns and threw two more. Arline was named a finalist for the Hansen Award as the top player in the county. He was the third Shoreham player to ever be a finalist for the award.