No one expected the Westhampton Beach football team to make the Suffolk County Division III Championship for a second straight year. The Hurricanes were ranked in the preseason to finish fifth and, after a couple of tough losses during the regular season, it was doubtful that the Hurricanes would even make the playoffs.
Westhampton Beach surprised everyone, though, when it upset Miller Place, 19-14, in the county semifinal game on November 17 to reach the finals and force a rematch with Sayville for the county title. On Sunday, the Hurricanes finally met their match, as they lost, 36-7, to Sayville in the Suffolk County Division III Championship at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University.
The victory gave Sayville its second consecutive county title and its sixth since 1998. The undefeated Golden Flashes, who have the longest current winning streak on Long Island at 23 consecutive victories, will face Nassau County Champion Lawrence in the Long Island Championship for the Rutgers Trophy on Friday at Hofstra University.
Westhampton Beach kept up with Sayville, for the most part, for the first 15 minutes of Sunday’s game. The Golden Flashes scored the first touchdown of the game with 6:44 left in the first quarter. Senior running back John Haggart broke into the end zone from two yards out, and after the extra point by senior Brendan Halton, Sayville led 7-0, which was the score heading into the second quarter.
Westhampton Beach head coach Bill Parry said if his team could keep things close throughout the game, it would have a great chance at upsetting the Golden Flashes. But with 8:31 remaining in the second quarter, things started going downhill for the Hurricanes. Sayville senior quarterback Zach Sirico ran for a 64-yard touchdown, and, with Halton’s extra point, Sayville led 14-0.
Then, on their next offensive drive, Sirico connected with senior James Giattino on a 33-yard pass play to set up the Golden Flashes on the Westhampton Beach 20-yard line. A few plays later, Sirico passed to senior Matthew Starr for an 8-yard touchdown strike with 3:37 remaining in the first half. After the failed extra point, Sayville all of a sudden had a commanding 20-0 lead at halftime.
“Those three big plays, and that was it for us,” Parry said. “I think our kids just went south. It’s tough. I preached all week that if we keep it close we can win this game. Once it wasn’t close, that was it.”
Sayville received the ball in the second half and eventually scored when Haggart ran 31 yards for a touchdown to make it a 27-0 game a little over halfway through the third quarter.
Westhampton Beach then took its next drive on its own 15-yard line and a botched snap sent the ball over senior quarterback Jack Murphy’s head. After chasing down the ball in the end zone, Murphy went down, giving Sayville the safety for two points and a 29-0 lead.
Sayville scored its final touchdown on a 4-yard run from Haggart with 7:43 remaining in the game. The Hurricanes responded quickly when Murphy scored on a 29-yard touchdown run with 6:47 remaining in the game. Westhampton Beach senior Peter Broccoli was successful on his extra point try.
Murphy ran the bell seven times for 32 yards and the touchdown. He also completed nine of his 16 passes for 62 yards and also made six tackles and had an interception on defense. Senior Brian Corrigan ran the ball eight times for 73 yards and had seven tackles on defense. Senior Zach Moore also had seven tackles while senior Brian Culhane had 10.
Parry was visibly disappointed after his team’s loss but was extremely satisfied with how the season turned out overall. Following a 27-20 loss to Harborfields at homecoming on September 14, Parry was less than confident, to say the least, that his team would make it back to the county final.
“We’re very happy to be here,” he said. “If you told us after the Harborfields game that we’d be playing here, I would have thought you were crazy. Everybody in Suffolk County would have said the same thing.
“The kids scratched and clawed every week and battled their way back,” he continued. “There were a couple of times when we thought we were down and out, and the next week we’re back, and you have to give them credit for that.”
Much of the team’s success could be attributed to the seniors on the team, who will now be graduating in June. Corrigan, Culhane and Murphy, the team’s three captains, will all be gone next season. Corrigan and Culhane spend three years on varsity and were key in bringing the Canes to two Suffolk County finals. Moore, Justin Siraco, Ben Zaqiri, Peter Broccoli, Andrew Tufariello, Devon Hogan, Tim Curry, Sebastian Antonio, Vito Strippoli, Joe DiBenedetto, Andres Herrera, Kyle Rubin, Alex Peele, Dan Irving, Tal Gordon and Frank Zambik are all slated to graduate.