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North Shore rolls into title game

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North Shore used a smothering defense and got a pair of rushing touchdowns from junior quarterback Daniel Quigley last Saturday to move one step closer to its first Nassau County football championship since 1977.

The top-seeded Vikings knocked off No. 4 Cold Spring Harbor, 21-0, in a Conference IV semifinal before a spirited home crowd. Senior tailback Phil La Rosa’s 15-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter provided all the offense they’d need for a seventh straight victory.

North Shore will host No. 3 Wantagh (4-2) in the title game this Saturday at 2 p.m. The Warriors, who eliminated defending champion Seaford in the other semifinal, lost to the Vikings, 26-12, on March 27.

“We came out ready,” said North Shore junior David Berlin, who had two of the defense’s four takeaways on interceptions and also kicked an extra point. “It’s a very special team,” he added. “We’re trying to make history for our school and put our program on the map.”

The Vikings led 6-0 late in the second quarter when Berlin returned his second interception to the Cold Spring Harbor 5. Two plays later, Quigley followed the block of junior center Nicholas Caparella for a 3-yard touchdown run. “The first interception I just read the quarterback’s eyes,” Berlin said. “The second they had two receivers cross and I just stepped in between them and did my job.”

Sacks by senior Oliver Palone and sophomore Reece Ramos stopped the Seahawks from going anywhere on their next drive and North Shore’s offense put together a quick scoring drive to lead 19-0 at halftime. Sophomore Nick Livoti gained 44 yards on a jet sweep and had another carry for a dozen yards to set up Quigley’s 6-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in the half.

“Going up three scores there was big,” North Shore head coach Dan Agovino said. “Our defense has been a tough nut to crack all season so we felt pretty good.”

Quigley finished with 90 yards on 13 carries. “Daniel has done such a tremendous job at quarterback with not a lot of time to prepare for the season,” Agovino said. “He’s progressed every single week.”

The only scoring in the second half came on special teams when Ramos blocked a punt. Ramos and seniors Daniel Romano, Lorenzo Racine and Tayler Smith proved a handful in the trenches all day.

“It’s been an amazing season to be out here with all my friends and winning games,” Romano said. “A lot of us have been playing since kindergarten and now we have a chance to bring home a championship.”

Wantagh, a mainstay in Conference III and a perennial contender, had lost the regular-season finale to Seaford 32-6 before turning the tide in the semifinals. Agovino is expecting a battle.

“We respect Wantagh,” Agovino said. “They have a great program and coaching staff. They’ll be prepared and we will be too. The kids are excited to play for a championship in our own backyard.”