They had met each of their playoff challenges squarely, and now Seaford’s players sat in a circle in the south end zone at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving.
They had just survived a thrilling Long Island Class IV championship game in which they beat Miller Place, 29-27, and coach Rob Perpall strolled around that circle, delivering one final, impassioned speech that concluded with the words, “Nothing beats the family.”
The Vikings then rose and mobbed their 70-year-old patriarch, who had told them during the week that he was retiring. The gift of a Long Island championship was much better than an engraved watch.
Especially after his team entered the playoffs with two losses.
“There weren’t many people who believed we could win,” said Perpall, who had guided Seaford to the Long Island title in 2009. “Our players came out smoking hot and executed the game plan. I look up there and see what we achieved and I really believe high school kids are capable of anything.”
Seaford, which finished 10-2, proved it was capable of reversing regular-season losses to Cold Spring Harbor and Locust Valley in the playoffs and also proved capable of diversifying its offense when necessary.
The Vikings did not throw a pass in beating CSH, 21-0, in the county final. But there was sophomore quarterback Logan Masters delivering perhaps the biggest play of the LIC through the air. On the last play of the first half, from the Miller Place 31, Masters hit a tumbling Zachary Grof for the touchdown. Hail Mary Lite put Seaford ahead for good at 15-12.
“Last week, it was best for the team to run,” Masters said after the game. “Today it took the pass for us to win.”
Masters completed 8 of 15 passes for 147 yards. The Vikings’ main form of travel, by land, also was effective as Joe Angelastro rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns and Tyler Volpi added 57 yards on 17 carries. Their roles were reversed in the Cold Spring Harbor game as Volpi ran for 133 yards and Angelastro contributed 67.
For the season, Angelastro totaled 1,530 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns and Volpi had 775 and eight scores. “We were all hurting a little bit. It’s been a long season,” Angelastro said. “But we kept telling each other, ‘we can’t stop now.’ ”
Seaford was hard to stop because of its fine offensive line, led by Anthony Chirico at guard and Sean Allen at tight end, that primed the pump for the running game and a swarming defense led by linebacker Nick Calandra and defensive back Ryan Butler.
In the LIC, Butler made a clinching interception with 2:15 left to end Miller Place’s final drive. That was his priceless reward for the arduous work he did to return from ACL surgery in Week 4. “It means everything,” he said after the championship game. “I’ve never loved a group of brothers as much as I do them.”
In Seaford’s circle of life, nothing beats the family.