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During the last practice of the season Thanksgiving morning, Seaford football head coach Rob Perpall loosened the mood by dressing up as Santa Claus and giving each of his players a Viking-themed blanket as a present. The next day, his team returned the favor by giving him one of the greatest gifts of all, a Long Island championship in what would be his final game on the sideline.
Joe Angelastro rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns and Luke Farrant and Ryan Butler made game-saving plays on the final defensive drive as Seaford won its third L.I. Class IV title by holding off Miller Place, 29-27, at Hofstra last Friday.
Seaford (10-2) avenged last year’s loss to Shoreham-Wading River and won its first LIC since 2009 with a miraculous playoff run. “All 41 kids and every coach on the staff played a role,” said Perpall, who announced his retirement after the game. “After we lost our second straight game in October, we had a meeting the following Monday and talked about working to get better every day. I said, ‘Let’s get better every day and see where it takes us.’”
Seaford took a 29-20 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game on Angelastro’s 11-yard scamper. But Miller Place (10-2), which came off a wild 33-25 win over Babylon in the Suffolk IV championship game, cut the lead to two points for the second time in the second half on Anthony Seymour’s 22-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Anthony Filippetti just under two minutes later.
Seaford looked to put the game away on its ensuing drive and moved the ball to Panthers 27 with just under four minutes remaining, but a fourth-and-6 run fell three yards short.
The Viking defense stood tall by holding Miller Place to just three yards on the first three plays of the next drive, but Seymour escaped the collapsing pocket and gained nine yards on fourth down to keep the Panthers’ hopes alive.
Seymour then found Filippetti in the right flat and the speedy 5-foot-3 receiver scampered up the sideline with the end zone in sight, but Farrant managed to trip him up at the Seaford 27 to prevent the score. A holding penalty on the ensuing snap moved Miller Place back 10 yards and the Panthers lost seven more seconds later when Seymour’s backwards pass to Filippetti went out of bounds.
Butler helped seal the game for Seaford by stopping Seymour on a run around the left end on a second-and-27 play that went for three yards before intercepting his pass at the Viking 23 with 1:36 left. With Miller Place out of time outs, sophomore quarterback Logan Masters kneeled down twice and the celebration began, with many of the players jumping on the rail of the stands and into the arms of family and friends.
“Butler started off as our quarterback, but we had to go to Plan B and just as Masters stepped up to run the offense, Butler did the same to help lead our defense,” Perpall said.
Seaford outrushed Miller Place 223-178 and outgained the Panthers 370-304 overall on the afternoon. Tyler Volpi, who was playing in his final game, finished with 17 carries for 57 yards and fellow senior Nick Calandra had 30 yards on seven attempts. Masters, who didn’t attempt a pass last week against Cold Spring Harbor in the Nassau Conference IV championship, completed 8-of-15 throws for 147 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Angelastro said. “We’ve been working since August, non-stop hard work every single day. We dreamed of this the whole entire time.”
The Vikings won the opening toss and immediately made a statement by traveling 72 yards on 14 plays in just under seven minutes, capped by Angelastro’s 1-yard plunge.
Miller Place nearly tied it on its initial drive of the game late in the first quarter when Seymour scored on a four-yard keeper, but the extra point hit the left upright that left the Vikings with a 7-6 advantage.
The Panthers enjoyed their only lead of the game with 54 seconds left in the first half on Tyler Ammirato’s 22-yard touchdown run that made it 12-7, but Angelastro returned the ensuing squib kick 25 yards to the Miller Place 45. Seven plays later, Masters arced a pass just long enough for senior wideout Zachary Grof to grab in the left side of the end zone with no time remaining. Masters rushed for the two-point conversion that made it 15-12 at the break.
The Vikings increased their lead to 10 points with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter on a stunning 19-yard touchdown run by Angelastro. The junior appeared to be stuffed at the line of scrimmage by Marcus Gipson, but managed to spin out of the grasp of the 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive lineman and escaped the scrum before jetting into the end zone.
After the game, Perpall, who lauded his long list of assistant coaches led by Mike Urio and Mike Wimmer, announced his retirement. “It’s something I thought about many times this season,” Perpall said. “I decided earlier in the week this would be my final game. It’s a great way to go out.”