With homecoming comes many distractions, and in the past they may have affected what happens on the playing field for the Westhampton Beach football team. The Hurricanes, though, only have one thing on their minds lately—winning—and that’s what they continued to do on Friday night.
The Canes defeated Miller Place, 41-0, in front of a large, standing-room-only homecoming crowd, improving to 7-0 on the season to remain in first place in the Division III standings with 160.14 power points, nine points ahead of second place Half Hollow Hills West. Friday night’s shutout was the team’s first within its now 19-game winning streak and first since a 40-0 victory at Comesewogue on October 2, 2015.
“We had our share of distractions with the new uniforms tonight, we had a pep rally at the end of school, we had a couple of other issues,” Westhampton Beach head coach Bryan Schaumloffel said after the game. “Distractions are always a concern during homecoming week. We were loose before the game, but I thought we were focused, and sometimes when the kids are too loose they’re not as focused. But I thought we had, for a homecoming week coming off the pep rally and a Friday night game, our guys did a great job.”
Jaden AlfanoStJohn, a junior, scored the first touchdown for the Canes, one of three on the night, on an 18-yard run in the second quarter. After senior Liam McIntyre scored on a three-yard run, AlfanoStJohn caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Clarke Lewis to make it 20-0 at halftime. McIntyre added a 31-yard score in the third quarter, then AlfanoStJohn scored from 39 yards to give the Canes a commanding 34-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Later in the third and into the fourth quarter, Schaumloffel was subbing in reserve players on both sides of the ball to get them some much needed playing time. He was proud of the way they were able to come in and continue to play strong, including keeping the shutout intact.
“We’ve been playing good defense all year, and we want to get the other guys in; our seconds are pretty good too, so we preached and said when you guys get in tonight you got to hold it for the guys who have been doing it for three quarters, and tonight they did,” he said after the win.
Schaumloffel also lauded his seniors for how they came out and played in what was also Senior Night. The Canes’ final regular season game is this Saturday afternoon at West Babylon at 2 p.m., although they are guaranteed one home playoff game, at the very least. Chris Bender, a first-year varsity player and senior, scored his first touchdown in the fourth quarter on a five-yard run with 5:54 remaining.
“This is my first year playing high school football. Being able to score on homecoming is really huge for me,” he said. “The homecoming vibe every year is really great. All of the fans always come out to support us. And the blackout in the stands, it’s just great to see all of it.”
Jaden AlfanoStJohn carried the ball 10 times for 90 yards and also had an interception on defense. McIntyre rushed for 110 yards on 16 carries. Lewis completed three of his six passes for 45 yards. Senior Jake Bennett had two sacks on defense.
Westhampton Beach unveiled an alternate jersey on Friday night with the stars and stripes of the American flag starting on each shoulder and running down the inside of each side of the jersey, which was gray with green numbers, similar to their usual home uniforms. Schaumloffel said they were meant for what the team had planned to be a Military Appreciation Day that didn’t work out for this season but hopefully will in the future. For now, the alternates will be just that and will only come out on special occasions, Schaumloffel said.
Bender said the team just needs to keep its foot on the gas pedal going into the final week of the regular season, and his coach agreed.
“We need to keep on practicing and staying focused and doing the right things in school and we’ll be okay,” Schaumloffel said.