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Nov 16, 2019 10:59 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

East Islip's Air Attack Is Too Much For Westhampton Beach Football In County Semifinal

Westhampton Beach sophomore Deegan Laube takes down East Islip player on the opening kickoff. DREW BUDD
Nov 18, 2019 4:56 PM

The current season was eerily similar to the 2016 campaign for the Westhampton Beach football team. Three years ago, the Hurricanes won their first seven games of the regular season, a school record, which included a victory over a daunting East Islip team, but lost to East Islip in the county semifinal, falling just short of the championship game.

This year’s crop of ’Canes didn’t start the season on a seven-game win streak, but they did win seven straight to finish the regular season, including a 31-21 victory at home over East Islip on October 18. But on Friday night, history found a way to repeat itself.

The Redmen used an acute air attack that Westhampton Beach could not stop, leading to a 42-27 victory on the ’Canes home field. East Islip will face Sayville, which defeated Kings Park, 35-7, in the other semifinal, this Thursday, November 21, at Stony Brook University for the Division III county championship at 7 p.m.

It was a tough end to the season for Westhampton Beach, which had its sights set on making its third straight run on a county title. But now, after losing just two games all season long, the ’Canes will see their season come up a bit short.

“The end comes fast and furious,” Westhampton Beach head coach Bryan Schaumloffel said. “It’s a long season, it’s a year-long process, and our kids and coaches put a lot of effort into it. We have them out there in the heat in July and August getting ready for the season and they’re literally practicing in the snow in November. I don’t know if there is another sport, or anything in general, where kids their age have to prepare for and go through that. And when it comes to an end, that’s it. Football isn’t the type of sport where you’re going to play a pick-up game with your friends. There’s really nothing to replace high school football for a lot of these kids.”

East Islip and Westhampton Beach were knotted up at 14-14 at halftime and it seemed like both teams would continue to go tit-for-tat in the second half. With Westhampton Beach showing a propensity all season long to be a second half team, it seemed to have the edge in that regard, but that wouldn’t stand true this time around.

Nick Baldino brought the opening second-half kickoff to midfield, and a few plays later, East Islip quarterback Brandon Miller locked up with Rob Kreush on a 28-yard touchdown strike to give the Redmen a 21-14 lead. After a four and out by Westhampton Beach, Miller and Kreush hooked up again, this time from 20 yards, and with 5:27 remaining in the third, East Islip led, 28-14.

The ’Canes drove the ball down field on its ensuing drive, and after a pass interference call, they were set up on East Islip’s 10-yard line. But East Islip’s Troy Burrell intercepted Christian Capuano’s pass at the 5 and took it all the way back to the Westhampton Beach 42. That set up East Islip’s third touchdown pass of the third quarter, when Miller connected with Derek Burrell for another 28-yard strike, putting the game out of reach for good at 35-14.

The Redmen tacked on another touchdown with just about eight minutes remaining in the game. Westhampton Beach didn’t lie down even though the score was a little out of hand. Some nice one-handed catches by Jesse AlfanoStJohn set up his twin brother Jaden for a touchdown with 4:17 left. After the ’Canes recovered an onside kick, Jaden AlfanoStJohn scored what was his fourth touchdown of the game with just under a minute remaining. The ’Canes recovered another onside kick as well, but East Islip intercepted a pass that clinched the victory.

Miller completed 12 of 19 passes for 252 yards and the three third-quarter touchdowns. Dylan Rigo scored the other three touchdowns for the Redmen. Jaden AlfanoStJohn rushed 28 times for 105 yards, and scored all four touchdowns for Westhampton Beach, three on the ground and one through the air.

Schaumloffel said the difference between Friday night’s game and the game from earlier in the season was his team was able to get out to a 17-0 lead and take East Islip out of its game early on back in October. That simply didn’t happen this time around.

“We got them in situations of third and long, they just made some plays,” he explained. “You make a couple of those stops on third downs, and it’s a different game.

“Their quarterback is pretty good. Their receivers made some nice plays. I thought we had them covered on some of the long plays, their kids just made a nice play.”

“We knew this was going to be a tough game, like a dog fight,” Westhampton Beach senior Jesse AlfanoStJohn said after the game. “We just came out slow and it really just progressed. They kept on scoring and we just didn’t really do what we needed to on defense. Offense played pretty well, but defensively we just didn’t have it for this game.”

The AlfanoStJohn twins will be graduating this June, along with a host of other players who have spent two to three years on the varsity team. Jaden AlfanoStJohn, Shavar Coffey and Jeff McBurnie are some of the last remaining players who were on the team during the program’s first ever Long Island Championship in 2017. Jaden AlfanoStJohn committed last week to play football at LIU with former Hurricane Liam McIntyre, who enjoyed a solid first season there. Coffey doesn’t have any offers and hasn’t committed to a school yet, but Schaumloffel is confident that will change once the college season comes to a close. Jesse AlfanoStJohn has already committed to playing lacrosse at Stony Brook University.

“It’s really tough,” Jesse said on the season coming to a close. “Great season, great group of kids. Wish I could play with them again, but everything has to come to an end.

“I think we played very well,” he said of his and his brother’s play over the season. “I think Jaden is one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen in my life, and I really think he should be up for many awards in the next couple of months. Both played our hearts out, came up short.”

Even with losing 17 seniors, Schaumloffel said there is a group of 30 or so sophomores who are ready to make the jump to varsity after a successful junior varsity season. In fact, the JV program has gone undefeated the past three straight seasons.

After losing the county semifinal to East Islip in 2016, the ’Canes went on their run of winning 22 straight games, including county and Long Island titles in 2017, and reaching the county final again in 2018. Whether or not his team can make history repeat itself again and win county and Long Island titles next season, Schaumloffel couldn’t say, but he that’s the expectation now going into every season.

“I think we have a real talented group coming up with those sophomores and our junior class is blessed with great athletes. It’s hard to say that another Long Island Championship is in the future, but we’re at the point now, and I’ve mentioned this before, that’s the goal heading into every single season. The expectation is to do the best we can and the years of 4-4 and 5-3 simply aren’t good enough anymore.”

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