A Dylan Zahn pass is a thing of beauty. The Shoreham-Wading River quarterback can zip a dart up the middle into tight quarters or air it out deep down the football field, usually with a perfect spiral.
“I’m truly amazed by him every day,” SWR junior Liam Kershis said. “I mean, how he warms up in practice. He throws the ball on one knee to warm up and he throws it 50 yards. I wish I was joking about that.”
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Zahn is big, strong and accurate. SWR has a nice passing game, and that’s attributable in large part to the senior.
Zahn passed for three touchdowns and Kershis scored four TDs (two on runs, two on receptions) as SWR wrapped up the regular season Friday night with a 45-31 defeat of visiting Mount Sinai in a Suffolk County Division IV game at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field in Shoreham.
The score was tied, 17-17, at halftime, but SWR (4-3) scored on four of its first five second-half possessions before running out the clock to end it.
SWR coach Aden Smith believes the result will bring the Wildcats a home playoff game Nov. 4.
Defending Division IV champion SWR was coming off tough back-to-back losses to Elwood/John Glenn, 45-42, and Kings Park, 44-33.
“We definitely didn’t play our best games, but I thought we executed and I thought we should have definitely won those games,” said Zahn.
SWR made sure to finish this time, no small thanks to Zahn and Kershis.
Smith said Zahn has “improved his ability to throw tremendously from last year to this year. So you know, he’s playing lights-out football. His stats are tremendous.
“If you’ve watched our film in years past, we’ve been significantly reliant on the run. This year we’ve been passing the ball a lot and it’s because of his leadership ability, the ability to throw it accurately.”
Zahn turned in a tremendous performance on Senior Night, connecting on 22 of 32 passes for 288 yards and no interceptions. His season numbers: 105-for-153 for 1,548 yards, 16 TDs and three interceptions.
“Incredible,” Kershis said. “Without Dylan Zahn, we would not be where we are.”
If that wasn’t enough, Zahn also ran the ball 29 times for 135 yards and a TD. He did all of this while wearing a splint on his left wrist, which he fractured in the season-opening game against Miller Place.
“I always had like a strong arm when I was a kid,” said Zahn, whose 62-yard TD pass to Kieran Clifford (three catches, 101 yards) broke a 17-17 tie 6 minutes, 23 seconds into the third quarter. “I always knew that, but I think that my quarterback coach, James Brady, he’s definitely the one who got me to where I am right now.”
Two of Zahn’s scoring tosses went to Kershis. Kershis ran for 113 yards on 13 carries and caught six passes for 71 yards. This season the junior has run for 576 yards and 10 TDs.
“Liam’s an explosive player,” Smith said. “He’s got a tremendous upside. It’s his first year playing football since ninth grade, so the more game-type reps he gets, the better he’s going to be. So I think he’s getting better and better with each game.”
Behind an offensive line of Zack Wilson, Jake Fabian, Aidan Franks, Thomas Mullen and Aidan Powers, SWR was able to total 536 yards.
Jaden Rotella (14 of 23) passed for 205 yards and a TD (a 73-yarder to Drew Feinstein) and ran for 105 yards and a TD (a 52-yarder) for Mount Sinai (2-5). Feinstein made five recepti0ns for 130 yards. The Mustangs also had a pair of TD runs by Jake Spallina.
Both teams made a field goal. SWR’s Sam Palmer nailed a 24-yarder and Mount Sinai’s Michael Maire hit a 21-yarder.
“I think any time you play a crosstown rival, Mount Sinai, you know, they understand the magnitude of the game,” Smith said. “It’s a big game.”
Spallina’s second TD run of the game and ninth of the season cut SWR’s lead to 38-23 with 7:58 left to play. A fumble recovery by SWR’s Brendan Meskill set up a 27-yard Kershis TD with 2:36 left. Mount Sinai responded with Feinstein’s 73-yard TD catch on the next play from scrimmage, but SWR covered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
“The coaches, the players, everybody understood the magnitude,” Smith said. “We came in, found a way to get it done.”