As comebacks go, Daniel Striano’s has to rank right up there.
The Cold Spring Harbor running back — who plays ice hockey in the winter and lacrosse in the spring — missed all or most of five sports seasons because of a fractured vertebra. He returned to playing sports this past spring, and on Friday night, he took the Seahawks to the championship level.
Striano rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns and also made an interception as Cold Spring Harbor beat two-time defending champion Seaford, 27-7, for the Nassau IV championship at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Seaford beat the Seahawks in the county title game a year ago.
“Danny was phenomenal for us, a stud, and this win means so much,” CSH quarterback Ray Costa said. “It is the game that we had been looking forward to playing all year. We’ve been talking about getting one back on them and ending Seaford’s run all year. Now it’s on to the LIC and we’re not done yet.”
Cold Spring Harbor (9-2), the Nassau IV champion for the fifth time and first time since 2005, will face Shoreham-Wading River in the Long Island Class IV championship game at noon Friday at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.
Striano had only four rushing touchdowns this season before the three against Seaford (8-3) because he injured his left knee in CSH’s regular-season win over the Vikings. Diagnosed with a fractured tibial plateau, he wore a large brace while missing three games before returning for the postseason.
On the strength of his three touchdowns, CSH took a 19-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
“This is the player he was going to be before he got hurt,” Seahawks coach Jon Mendreski said. “And when you’re coming back from an injury, you’re looking for your confidence. He played with confidence tonight.”
“It’s very rewarding, especially to beat Seaford,” said Striano, who will attend Providence on a lacrosse scholarship. “It was tough being out of action for so long, but [the fractured vertebra] is an injury you have to be patient with. The knee was a setback . . . Being able to help this team win this feels great.”
Seaford’s game-opening drive ended with Thomas Milana’s interception, and Cold Spring Harbor capitalized with a 72-yard drive capped by Striano’s 23-yard touchdown run over the right side. His second-quarter interception set the table for his second score, a 32-yarder on fourth-and-2 in which he again went over the right side and broke away to give CSH a 13-0 halftime lead.
He capped the first possession of the second half with a 7-yard TD on fourth-and-goal — again over the right side.
CSH rode the blocking of Ethan Burdo and Dom Striano — Daniel’s younger brother and one of triplets who are juniors for CSH — all night.
“They are monsters,” Mandreski said. “We really feel comfortable going left or right, but tonight we really played the hot hand. Those guys were rolling.”
Seaford got on the board at the start of the fourth quarter by turning Paul Sciaccia’s fumble recovery into a 10-yard TD pass from Logan Masters to Jason Rebaudo. CSH hit back on the next snap, as Jacob Bruno ran 48 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-7.
“A lot of people think you can’t beat somebody twice [in a season], but I told them that you can beat someone as many times as you want if you prepare the right way and execute,” Mendreski said. “This team did just that.”