The Shoreham-Wading Riv- er football program is among four finalists for a prestigious award and a $50,000 grant to be announced Sunday by the Russell Athletic company.
The "Fight Like Dylan Award'' winner will be unveiled at a news conference, then awarded before the Russell Athletic Bowl Monday in Orlando, Florida.
The award honors Dylan Rebeor, a Tennessee high school football player whose last wish was for his teammates to receive new uniforms. He died on Dec. 3, 2010, after a battle with colon cancer. That same season, his team, the Columbia Central Lions of Tennessee, won their first state crown in 58 years.
The Shoreham-Wading Riv- er community and its football team were struck by tragedy this fall when junior linebacker Tom Cutinella died after an on-field collision midway through the varsity football season.
Both schools and their respective communities lost outstanding young people of character and found the resolve to come together and support one another in a time of need.
Cutinella's Shoreham-Wading River teammates went on to complete the school's finest football season, culminating in its first Long Island Class IV championship. The Wildcats beat Roosevelt, 47-13, in the Class IV final at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium and finished the season with a 12-0 record.
"There are some eerie similarities in Dylan's story and what our community went through when we lost Tom this season,'' Shoreham-Wading River football coach Matt Millheiser said. "It's been extremely difficult, but our community and district have really been supportive and that's helped everyone get through. It'll never be the same, but his impact on all of us lives on.''
The award is presented to a team that demonstrates determination through sports, paying tribute to Rebeor's remarkable character, courage and consideration of others.
"It's just an honor for us to be considered,'' Shoreham-Wading River director of athletics Mark Passamante said. "Our booster club president, Ed Troyano, wrote a 500-word essay to nominate our program and tell our story."