Shoreham-Wading River opened its season with a 41-7 victory over Bayport-Blue Point on the same day head coach Aden Smith was “removed” from his position amid a school investigation.
Earlier Friday, Superintendent Gerard Poole released a statement that said the school was investigating an incident during last Friday’s scrimmage against Islip High School.
Mark Passamonte, the director of athletics for the Shoreham-Wading River School District, said his football staff was coaching by committee in place of Smith for Friday night’s victory.
“I’m really proud of the way they’ve pulled it all together,” Passamonte said at halftime of the season opener. “It was a team effort all the way around from the coaches to the players. And I thought the players were focused on opening night and were fantastic. We’re looking forward to a great season.”
Shoreham-Wading River, the defending Suffolk Division IV champions, rode the able legs of senior quarterback Xavier Arline, who scored three first half touchdowns as the Wildcats opened a 21-7 lead. Arline finished with 204 yards on the ground with five scores on 20 carries.
“I feel really good about the win because we made some very good adjustments at halftime,” Arline said. “We had a lot of adversity this week.”
Arline’s first score came on SWR's first possession. The Wildcats drove 87 yards in 10 plays before Arline punched it in from 7 yards. Jake Eckert added the kick to make it 7-0 with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
The Shoreham defense gave Arline a short field for the team's second possession and it took the speedy signal caller only four plays to drive 38 yards for another score. He scored from 6 yards out for a 14-0 lead with 10:43 left in the half.
Bayport-Blue Point, which moved the ball 63 yards on its first possession only to stall inside SWR's 30-yard line, got a big play from quarterback Luke Schartner to set up the Phantoms' only score.
Schartner hit Zach Kroog for 57 yards down the visitor’s sideline to the Wildcats' 1-yard line. Schartner hit Logan Jones with a short out and a big hit forced a fumble into the end zone where an alert Kroog recovered for the touchdown. Jacob Lurie added the extra-point kick to make it 14-7 with 7:09 left in the half.
Arline capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 32-yard scoring run. He dropped to pass and bolted up the middle on a quarterback draw before breaking the run outside and racing untouched to the end zone.
“We were in a tough situation tonight,” said Shoreham assistant coach Virgil Romer, the team spokesman. “We divided up the coaching responsibilities and worked together.”
Special teams mistakes crushed Bayport's hopes of a comeback. A fumbled snap on a punt attempt deep in Phantoms territory left the ball at the 8-yard line. Two plays later, sophomore Max Barone scored from 1 yard for the 28-7 lead with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Anthony Giordano recovered a fumble at Bayport's 47. Arline soon added his fourth touchdown on an 8-yard run for a 35-7 lead.
“It went pretty well for us under the circumstances,” Romer said. “Bayport came out and played tough and forced us to make some adjustments. We have things to work on but overall we did a nice job.”