North Shore captures county championship

Vikings earn first football title in 46 years


They’re partying in Glen Head and Sea Cliff like it’s 1975.

For a third straight playoff game, North Shore spotted its opponent an early lead only to storm back to victory.

The second-seeded Vikings captured their first Nassau County football championship in 46 years on Saturday afternoon, defeating No. 4 Cold Spring Harbor, 21-14, for the Conference IV title at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. Senior Daniel Quigley’s 2-yard touchdown run with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter held up as the winning score.

“It feels so amazing,” said Quigley, who had 75 of North Shore’s 264 rushing yards and a crucial interception to end Cold Spring Harbor’s final possession with 5:01 left. “Getting back to the finals has been on our minds since May 1,” he added. “We worked so hard for this.”

Junior Nicholas La Rosa had 101 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns, and junior quarterback Peter Liotta added 81 yards rushing for North Shore (9-2), which advances to face Shoreham-Wading River in its first-ever Long Island championship appearance next Saturday at Stony Brook University at 4:30 p.m.

“I can’t say enough about these kids,” North Shore head coach Dan Agovino said. “I’m so proud of them. They’ve been on a mission since last season ended and this is what we all worked for. It’s just great.”

Instead of burying last season’s county final loss to Wantagh in the closet, Agovino said the Vikings talked about it often and used it as added motivation to be the last team standing this fall.

“It feels so surreal,” said junior two-way lineman Reece Ramos. “It’s the result of all the work the coaches and us players put in during the offseason. We’ve been waiting for this day a long time and we got the job done.”

Once again, North Shore had to come from behind to taste victory. The Seahawks (7-4), fresh off an upset of top-seeded and previously unbeaten Seaford, opened the game with an impressive 20-play scoring drive covering 76 yards and all but the final 43 seconds of the first quarter. Charles Tauckus capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

“The kids might make it seem like they like playing from behind, but I don’t,” joked Agovino. “It’s the third week in a row we dug an early hole and fought our way out of it. It’s the kids’ staying focused and keeping their composure and executing the game plan.”

After punting away its opening possession and turning the ball over on downs on its second drive, North Shore marched 83 yards on nine plays late in the second quarter to get even. La Rosa, on a nifty cutback, raced 41 yards for a touchdown with 1:31 remaining in the half. The first of junior kicker Michael Fleming’s three successful extra points made it 7-7.

The Vikings began the second half with a wrinkle and Cold Spring Harbor’s defense had no answer. Quigley moved to quarterback and ripped off runs of 10, 8, 7, 5, 14 and 5 yards to highlight an 81-yard drive that culminated with a La Rosa 1-yard touchdown plunge.

North Shore led 14-7, but the Seahawks needed fewer than four minutes to get even on Tauckus’ 4-yard touchdown run.

It was tied at 14 heading into the fourth quarter when the Vikings, after starting on their own 37 late in the third, continued their game-winning drive. It was keyed by Liotta (29 yards on 5 carries) and the offensive line of Ramos, Nicholas Caparella, Anthony Santoro, Patrick Godfrey and Andrew Fabilli.

The offense got back to work after Quigley’s go-ahead touchdown and burned the final five minutes of clock after Quigley’s interception of a pass deflected by senior David Berlin.

“It’s really incredible,” Ramos said. “I can’t wait to get back to practice on Monday and prepare for one more game.”