Ground game lifts North Shore over East Rockaway


North Shore High School’s homecoming festivities were postponed due to the threat of more severe weather that rocked the tristate area Friday, but the Vikings still had plenty to celebrate on the field Saturday as junior Gianlucca Sferrazza’s three touchdowns highlighted a 34-0 victory over East Rockaway.

Senior quarterback Garret Gates and junior Jack Damphouse added touchdowns for two-time defending Nassau Conference IV champion North Shore, which won its second straight in dominant fashion after starting the year 0-2. The Rocks slid to 1-3.

“We always preach it’s a long season and if we work hard and improve, things will fall into place,” Vikings head coach Dan Agovino said. “We made a few mistakes in the first two weeks but right now we have all three facets of the game clicking and we’re excited about it.”

The margin was only seven with about two minutes left in the first half when the visiting Rocks were stopped on a 4th-and-1 pass attempt, batted down by North Shore’s Matthew D’Aversa. Four plays later, Gates scored from 12 yards out and the Vikings had a 14-0 halftime lead and all the momentum.

“They made a good play to break up that pass,” East Rockaway head coach Russ Pajer said. “They’re a tough, physical team and we definitely fought hard. We have a lot of kids playing both sides of the ball and we tired in the second half.

“Next week is homecoming and it’s a big one against Oyster Bay on Friday night,” he added. “If we can get to 2-3 we’re right back in the playoff race.”

The Vikings piled up 328 yards on the ground against the Rocks, who got three touchdowns from junior Anthony Grimaldi in their Week 2 blowout win at Carle Place. Behind the work of offensive linemen Justin Rosen, Chase Goldenberg, Dan Roper, Chase Evans and Issac Bratter, Sferrazza led the way with 109, senior John Haff had 66 and Gates 67.

Sferrazza opened the scoring on North Shore’s first possession with a 41-yard touchdown run. He had a 9-yard score in the third quarter and completed his ‘hat trick’ on the second snap of the fourth when he broke outside and raced 44 yards along the home sideline.

“My third touchdown was all the offensive line,” Sferrazza said. “Everyone hit their blocks.”

Sferrazza’s second touchdown came after Agovino’s staff reached into its bag of tricks and Haff, the backup quarterback, connected with senior James Toner for a 33-yard gain into the red zone.

“We’re a pretty vanilla team and mostly like to keep the game simple, but we also like to have a little fun,” Agovino said. “Mike Yoo joined our coaching staff this year and he and coach [Bill] Madigan joined forces and are opening the playbook a little bit.”

Senior Antonio Barbetta had an interception for North Shore. Junior Antonio Buzzetta had one for East Rockaway.

The Vikings are home next Saturday to face unbeaten Malverne at 2 p.m. “They’re a great team but we feel we are too,” Sferrazza said.