Football: Bayport halts SWR’s 19-game win streak

The unusual sight of the Shoreham-Wading River football team trailing in a game is rare enough to be regarded as a “wow” moment. A SWR loss? Well, that’s a stunner.

Not only did Bayport-Blue Point defeat the Wildcats Saturday, but they did so soundly, 34-14, halting SWR’s 19-game win streak, which began in 2019.

Just like that, the Wildcats (5-1 Suffolk County Division IV) are no longer perfect.

“I just told them we’re not called to be perfect,” coach Aden Smith said. “We’re called to be persistent, and this is an opportunity for us to be persistent. That’s what it is. The season’s long. You never know what’s gonna happen. We’re just gonna keep getting better.”

SWR wasn’t good enough Saturday, but BBP (5-1) had a lot to do with that. The Phantoms, seeded No. 1 in Division IV in the preseason and amped up by a homecoming crowd, turned in a tremendous performance. They limited SWR to 97 yards on the ground and 254 total while amassing 417 yards of offense themselves.

SWR lost by 20 points despite making four interceptions — by Dylan Kiely, Max Barone, Ryan Herr and Ryan Farron. BBP’s Brady Clark (10 of 16, 196 yards), however, threw for three touchdowns. Jameson Smith (three catches, 106 yards) was on the receiving end of two TD throws of 65 and 14 yards. Smith also ran for 94 yards, including a 35-yard winding dash to the end zone on his first touch of the game. Sean Anglim’s extra point made it 7-0 with 4 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first quarter.

SWR’s response was immediate. Barone returned Anglim’s ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a TD.

But BBP went in front for good three plays from scrimmage later, Clark floating a 46-yard TD pass for Jeffrey Aiello.

Dylan Zahn’s quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line — and Farron’s point after — cut the BBP lead to 21-14 on the cusp of halftime.

But Gavin Locascio somehow found a way to break a number of tackles en route to a 41-yard scoring dash late in the third quarter to restore BBP’s two-score lead.

“They were a good football team,” Smith said. “They came out prepared. They made more plays than us in the end. I thought my kids played hard, but unfortunately we didn’t make the plays when we had the opportunities to make the plays, so just got to look at it, self-reflect and find a way to get better.”

Zahn went 16 of 29, passing for 157 yards, with two interceptions. BBP’s defense was tough, though, with nine tackles by Anthony Alfieri and interceptions by Locascio and Clark.

“Penalties hurt us, missing tackles hurt us,” said SWR’s Aidan Franks, who made nine tackles. “A lot of stuff hurt us.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s Anthony Giordano (55) and James Provencher converge on Bayport-Blue Point’s Brady Clark, who managed to get a pass off. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

SWR’s Anthony Giordano, who made eight tackles from his middle linebacker spot, said: “This is gonna motivate the whole team. Listen, sports are about losing. My whole life I’ve lost, all right, and that’s why I’m winning now in my later life. I’m winning. Unfortunately, this game we didn’t win and it’s a common feeling of losing. It’s OK, but it drives you forward. It drives you forward, it drives the team forward.”

Still, it irked Kiely that BBP  was responsible for snapping the win streak. “It hurts that it’s, uh, this game, against this team,” he said. “There’s been a lot of talk between us. But we’ll be back, definitely.”

As distasteful as losing is to the Wildcats, Suffolk Division IV champions the past three seasons, their primary focus wasn’t necessarily an undefeated season so much as a Long Island championship.

“We have one goal at the end of the season,” Franks said. “This game doesn’t define us. We have to keep fighting.”

Kiely, a senior, tried to put things in perspective. “I’ve been here for four years,” he said. “I’ve seen it all, the wins. I’ve seen a couple losses. Just another win, another loss for us. We’ll keep it moving. It’s not our main goal to keep a winning streak. It’s our main goal to reach the end.”

Giordano, another senior, recalled SWR’s previous loss. It was to Mount Sinai in SWR’s homecoming game of 2019.

“I never forgot that moment,” he said, “and when we versed them next time, I bottled up all that anger and I released it, so you better believe that we’re gonna be back. We’re gonna be ready to go.”