Inspired by Thomas Cutinella, Shoreham-Wading River beats Mount Sinai
If playing for first place against crosstown rival Mount Sinai wasn’t enough for the Shoreham-Wading River football team to play in the spotlight, the Wildcats had the extra motivation on Friday night.
The team stepped out in their “Tommy Tough” jerseys, in honor of Thomas Cutinella, a former SWR football player who died seven years to the day after being injured on the pitch.
“We don’t usually wear them until the playoffs, but today was an important day so we decided to wear them,” said fullback and outside linebacker Dylan Kiely.
For nearly three quarters, things seemed to go as planned for the Wildcats, with a three-point lead.
But the Mustangs weren’t wanting to go away, closing in on a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before the SWR defense buckled in to help secure a 20-13 victory and first place in Suffolk’s Division IV.
“They are a very good, well-trained football team,” said SWR coach Aden Smith. “They’re always prepared and it didn’t surprise us to have to play them to the end. I’m proud of my guys for fighting to the end and being tough.”
The teams traded turnovers in their first drives before SWR set up an 11-play, 45-yard drive that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown from quarterback Dylan Zahn to open the scoring.
Mount Sinai provided three assists in his next practice and the Wildcats (4-0) had another 11-game practice again, this one totaling 75 yards and punctuated by a 14-yard touchdown from Max Barone. .
“Max has the best vision I have ever seen of a running back,” Kiely said.
Zahn and Barone led the way on the ground early and after Mt. Sinai (3-1) pledged to charge the box to stop the run, SWR was able to hit some big shots on the pitch.
Zahn found Kiely for a 35-yard pass to the center in the Wildcats’ second practice in the second half and finished the practice with a 33-yard touchdown to Liam Leonard in the fourth and 17 late in the quarter for a 20- 0 lead.
“We’ve been around these games for a while and haven’t released them in our previous games,” Kiely said. “We were waiting for the right time and it was tonight. Dylan [Zahn] was watching the safeties the whole game and when they fell I was wide open. “
Mount Sinai woke up on the next possession after James Carretta screened 58 yards and found the end zone on a 2-yard run two games later. After forcing a three-and-out SWR, Carretta returned a 65-yard punt into the end zone to reduce the deficit to 20-13.
“We knew we had to save our energy,” Zahn said. “We started to slow down and that’s when everyone started to rally.”
Both defenses held on for the remainder of the game, giving the Wildcats the edge of a rivalry that has spilled over into the Suffolk IV title game in each of the past three years.
“This victory was huge,” said Barone. “There was a different kind of energy in the air and everyone was feeling more excited because it’s such a huge rivalry for us.”