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LIC Class IV: Seaford’s Danny Roell and SWR’s Chris Gray lead teams into title game

Newsday's Gregg Sarra breaks down the Long Island Championship game in Class IV between Seaford and Shoreham-Wading River on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. at Stony Brook University. (Credit: Newsday)

In this age of spread formations and no-huddle passing offenses, Seaford’s Danny Roell and Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Gray are throwbacks.

Actually, they are runbacks. The Long Island Class IV championship game — which will be played at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium at 4:30 p.m. Sunday — is a showcase for two of the best and most prolific runners on Long Island.

Roell has gained 2,167 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. “He’s a pit bull,” Seaford coach Rob Perpall said of the player who led his team to an 11-0 record.

Gray has rushed for 1,967 yards and 34 touchdowns. “He’s got the heart of a lion,” Wildcats coach Matt Millheiser said of the star of his 9-2 team, which is seeking a third consecutive Long Island championship.

Beyond the numbers, the two are remarkable for something else. Both are average-sized players with above-average ability and giant-sized will.

“He’s the best we’ve ever had at Seaford,” Perpall, in his 20th season at the school, said of his 5-9, 175-pound senior.

According to Newsday records, Roell has the sixth-best single-season total in Nassau public school history and, with a typical game against SWR, could move up to No. 3.

Of Gray, a 5-7, 170-pound senior, Millheiser said, “He has tremendous ability to hit the hole, stop, and then take a step and be back at full speed going in the other direction. He doesn’t quit.”

Both players seem to thrive on a heavy workload. Roell had 40 carries for 190 yards last weekend in a 20-0 victory over Carle Place/Wheatley. Gray was even busier with 44 carries for 341 yards in a win over previously unbeaten Babylon.

“His athleticism really was on display last week,” Millheiser said. “To carry it 44 times the way he did, and yet he looked just as fresh at the end as he did in the first quarter.”

Roell, like Gray, is the kind of runner who extends the play. Many times he has appeared to be tackled, only to keep his feet moving and somehow escape from the pile for a long gain. “He’s got a lot of skill. He doesn’t need a lot of room to make his cuts,” Perpall said. “He has tremendous second effort. He’s always making positives out of negatives.”

Both players also are starting defensive backs and kick returners who hate to come off the field — another throwback trait. Because both teams favor the running game (though Seaford’s A.J. Cain is an effective passer), there’s little secret who is getting the ball most times. Which makes their achievements even more impressive.

Perpall acknowledged their similarities. “The biggest difference is that they have a seasoned, veteran offensive line and we have kids who played on the JV last year,” Perpall said. “We’ve had excellent blocking from our fullback [Nick Calandra], but Danny really has had to step it up himself.”

Millheiser said Gray has evolved into a more complete runner this season, mostly after the wipeout blocks of tight end Ethan Wiederkehr and tackle Dean Stalzer. “He’s found a balance between when to use his speed to get outside and when to be patient and use his blockers,” Millheiser said. “And for a small back, he takes a pounding.”

Ditto for Roell. To which both say, “Bring it on.’’

SEAFORD roster

No.PlayerGradePos.

1Mike Andersen12RB/LB

2Robert Boulukos11SE/DB

3Zach Grof11SE/DB

5Tom Kennedy12RB/LB

7Tyler Volpi11RB/LB

9Tyler Kirincic11QB/DB

10Ryan Butler10QB/DB

11Andrew Pich12WR/DB

12Andrew Cain*12QB/DB

15Kevin Murphy*12WR/DB

19Nick Calandra11RB/LB

21TJ Catapano11RB/DB

22Jake Benderman12RB/DB

23Danny Roell*12RB/DB

24Jack Supinsky11RB/DE

25Carter Skretch12WR/DB

29Joe Angelastro10RB/LB

35Alex Dupkin12TE/LB

36Nick Lanyo12SE/LB

39Josh Pinnock12K

40Brandon Cella10SE/CB

41Austin Pasco10RB/S

42Matthew Andersen10RB/LB

43Luke DiCapua10TE/DE

44Tom Umano11RB/LB

50Chris Barrieros12C/DL

51Jake Brandimarte12OL/DE

53Justin VanDusen11C/DL

55Andrew Chirico11OL/DL

56Jake Masters11C/DE

59Michael Erhart12OL/DL

60Sean Kelley10OL/DL

64Corey Marks10OL/DL

65Tim Rodriguez11RB/DB

66Khris Luciano11OL/DL

68James Poole*12OL/DL

69Carl Bloom10OL/DL

70John Dalton11OL/DL

71Ryan Koenig12OL/DL

73Billy Farkash12OL/DL

75Chris Higgins11OL/DL

76Chris Suppone12OL/DL

77Hunter Wing10OL/DL

80Greg Rosenberg12WR/LB

85Nicholas Sylvester10WR/DB

86Sean Allen11WR/DE

88Dante Botti12RB/DE

89Luke Farrant11WR/DB

99Paul Scaccia10OL/DL

Coach Rob Perpall

SHOREHAM-WADING RIVER roster

No.PlayerGradePos.

1Jack Schirtzer9WR/FS

2Ethan Baumack11FB/LB

3Daniel Cassidy12WR/SS

4Chris Gray12RB/LB

5Xavier Arline9QB/CB

6Ryan Ledda11WR/CB

7Kevin Cutinella*12QB/SS

8Joe Miller12WR/CB

9Noah Block11QB/CB

10Alex Angerman12WR/CB

12Jalen Wright12WR/CB

20Kyle Boden11RB/SS

21Dylan Meloni12WR/CB

22Rocco Caputo12FB/DE

24Jake Meeker10FB/LB

26Joe Cusano12K

32Jason Guevara11WR/CB

33Chris Sheehan12FB/LB

40Ethan Wiederkehr*12TE/DE

41Christian Aliperti12FB/LB

42Kyle Lutz11WR/CB

43Joshua Tejada12K/P

50Kyle Higgins12C/DE

51Liam Mahoney10G/DT

55Tyler McAuley11K

56Logan Snyder12G/DE

58Dean Stalzer12T/DT

60James Mirabell11T/DE

62Charles Caputo12G/LB

63Ryan Mullahey11C/DE

66Jack Logan10G/DT

75Ryan Condon12T/DE

76Daniel Curtin11G/DT

77James Logan12T/DE

78Nick Serdock12T/DT

79Joe Puckey10C/DT

81Max Santiago12WR/CB

84Sean DePhillips12WR/CB

99Charles Doolan12K/P

Coach Matt Millheiser

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