Shoreham-Wading River owned the tradition. The Wildcats were playing in the Long Island Class IV championship game for the sixth time in eight seasons after taking the title on four occasions. North Shore’s players, on the other hand, were the new guys at the football party.
The Vikings had won the program’s first Nassau title since 1975, which was almost two decades before the Long Island Championships came into existence.
But the first-timers ruled defensively on Saturday, completely shutting down a prolific Shoreham-Wading River offense that scored 70 points in the Suffolk IV quarterfinals.
North Shore rode a short first-quarter touchdown run by Daniel Quigley all the way to a 7-0 victory at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.
"It means the world," said Quigley, a senior running back/quarterback/outside linebacker. "Every practice, we’ve been working so hard for this. Every weight lift. It’s just everything. It’s a whole process. To be able to come out on top, it’s amazing."
The Wildcats arrived at 10-1. They were averaging 37.2 points per game. But they managed only 181 yards on the way to zero points.
"There’s no team more physical than us," said David Berlin, a senior cornerback/receiver for the Vikings. "We’re here to play smash-mouth football."
Or as Quigley put it, "We feel like we wanted it more."
North Shore (10-2) took over on a short field in the first quarter and cashed in.
Reece Ramos burst in to block Dylan Zahn’s punt, and Quigley recovered at the Shoreham-Wading River 32.
"Every play like that, you’ve got to capitalize on that," Quigley said.
Peter Liotta, who threw for 79 yards, hit Berlin for 11 yards on fourth-and-5 at the 27. Quigley, who ran for 47 yards, ended up finishing off the eight-play drive, scoring on third-and-goal from the 1 with a minute left in the quarter.
The Vikings had their chances to increase the lead in the second quarter. Nick Livoti found an opening on the right side and raced 75 yards to the end zone. But a flag had flown — holding.
The drive continued, but it ended when Liotta got picked off at the SWR 10 by Liam Leonard.
Four plays later, Zahn rolled right and got picked off by Berlin at the Wildcats’ 38 with 33 seconds left before intermission, but North Shore couldn’t capitalize.
The endings for Shoreham-Wading River’s first-half possessions? Incomplete pass on a fake punt, blocked punt, punt, interception.
"Our defensive line did a great job," Vikings coach Dan Agovino said. "We stuck to the basics and it worked for us."
Fast-forward to the fourth quarter. The Wildcats forced a punt and had one last chance after Berlin’s 52-yard punt was downed at the 6. Ultimately, they faced a fourth-and-9 at the Vikings’ 39 with 1:10 remaining. Zahn threw wide for Leonard at the 30, and that was it.
"I’m proud of my kids," SWR coach Aden Smith said. "We fought tough all year in some very tough, competitive battles just to make it out of the county."
Agovino was asked to sum up his team’s season. One word came to mind.
"Champions," he said. "These kids played like champions. That’s all I can say."