The Shoreham-Wading River defense knew exactly what Seaford was going to try to do.
With the run-heavy, ball-control style of offense Seaford employs, the Shoreham-Wading River defense's ability to control the line of scrimmage would largely determine how often dynamic Wildcats quarterback Xavier Arline would have the ball. Shoreham-Wading River did that to near perfection in its 49-7 victory over Seaford in the Long Island Class IV championship game at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“We knew we had to come out and be physical and we did just that,” said Matt Zahn, a 6-4, 270-pound senior offensive and defensive lineman. “We shut them down early and took the momentum and that transferred into offense, which put points on the board for us.”
Shoreham-Wading River (11-1) held Seaford (10-2) to 192 yards of offense on 55 plays, an average of 3.5 yards per play, including 1.8 yards per play in the first half. The Wildcats gained 406 yards on 48 plays, an average of 8.5 yards per play.
Senior linebacker Mike Casazza led the defense with 12 tackles.
“I think we shut them down and we really didn’t let them dictate the clock like they usually do,” Casazza said. “We pinched the line together and could stop them every time. They weren’t really able to do what they wanted to do.”
He added, “We stacked the box and we have a lot of mean players on our team. We are going to hit you hard and we did that the whole game and that’s what happened.”
Seaford’s lone score came on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Logan Masters to Craig Ackerman with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against the Wildcats’ second-team defense.
“Defensively, we had a tremendous effort,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Aden Smith said. “Guys ran to the ball, they swarmed the football, which was part of our game plan, and they just attacked. We were prepared for a grinding style of play. We had to prepare ourselves mentally for that.”
Dylan Kiely made nine tackles, Robert McGee had six and Jeffrey Lachenmeyer added four for the Wildcats.
“We knew what we had to do defensively,” Zahn said. “We knew we had to stop the run and I think we came out here and we did that perfectly, and it just all tied together and showed in the outcome.”
Shoreham-Wading River won its fourth Long Island championship in the last six years and first since 2016, and the players said it was important to continue the program’s legacy.
“It’s a tradition that we’ve had at Shoreham for a while and we just want to keep it going,” Kiely said. “We were just trying to stop the run at all cost and when they passed, we were there.”
“I can’t even put it into words,” Zahn said. “Since my freshman year when I saw the older guys take it home, every single year I came in with the mentality that this is the goal. And to finally achieve it, I can’t even describe the feeling.”