After the post-national anthem fireworks, Ka’Shaun went kaboom!
Bellport quarterback Ka’Shaun Parrish showed his explosiveness time and time again Saturday, and Riverhead got burned.
There isn’t much that Parrish cannot do on a football field. The speedy 5-foot-11, 160-pound sophomore ran for two touchdowns, returned a kickoff 74 yards to set up another TD and, for good measure, showed his skills as a receiver, leaping up to make a 28-yard reception.
It was all part of Bellport’s 35-8 homecoming win over rival Riverhead at Joe Cipp Field.
“He’s probably the best athlete that we played all year,” Riverhead wide receiver/cornerback Anthony Marcello said. “He’s probably also the fastest kid that we played.”
At times it looked as if Riverhead had the elusive Parrish boxed in, only to see him slip free and bolt down the field for large gains. On one play, a tackler had two hands on Parrish, yet he still managed to wiggle away for positive yardage.
“He’s just shifty,” Riverhead quarterback/free safety Cristian Pace (13-for-25, 152 yards, one TD, one interception) said. “I think he’s got good vision when he’s running and he sees open lanes and makes a lot of people miss.”
Parrish (10 carries, 99 yards) had TD runs of eight and 41 yards to help Bellport (3-2 Suffolk County Division II) out to a 15-0 lead. (He threw a two-point conversion pass to Myles Wilson after the first score).
“We saw him on film,” Riverhead coach Leif Shay said. “He’s been doing that all year. We have a hard time with very athletic quarterbacks. When the coverage breaks down, we have a hard time containing because we have to play so much man-to-man that it hurts us.”
What Parrish did shortly before the end of the second quarter could be considered the play of the game. Riverhead (2-3) capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with Marcello’s 14-yard TD catch on a corner route. Isaiah Barbieri followed that up by running the ball in for two points. Bellport’s lead was cut to 15-8 with 1 minute and 32 seconds left in the half.
The score didn’t stay that way for long, though.
On the ensuing kickoff, Parrish collected the ball at the Bellport 21-yard line and weaved his way all the way back to the Riverhead 9. Two plays later, D.J. Trent banged his way forward into the end zone. With Christian Moreno’s extra point, it was suddenly 22-8.
“I thought we were in the game, but then they just came down with the kick return,” said Marcello, who has three TD catches this season. “I was like, ‘Wow, that just kind of killed us.’ ”
Shay said: “That’s been our Achilles’ heel all year. We kick off and we can’t tackle anybody. We have to get better at tackling.”
Parrish’s 28-yard catch of a Jhamari Bell pass led to the first of two TDs in the third quarter.
Bell fumbled on his way toward the goal line, but recovered his own fumble in the end zone. It was that kind of a day for Bellport — and Riverhead.
Riverhead’s next series was cut short when Kyler Pizzo, who also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass and returned it 21 yards for a score.
“We were hanging in there, and then basically at the start of the second half we just kind of got destroyed,” Marcello said. “I thought that we would have to play perfect to win this game.”
Riverhead was far from perfect.
Of course, Parrish had a big part in all of this. The least effective part of his game was his passing. He went 4-for-11 for 50 yards.
“We shut [D.J. Trent] down,” Shay said. “We shut [Wilson] down. The quarterback was the X factor.”
Riverhead-Bellport is a big rivalry, with the attendant hoopla and intensity. Gregg Giannotti (Bellport Class of 2000) of WFAN’s “Boomer and Gio” morning radio program took part in the pregame coin toss ceremony along with New York State Assemblyman Dean Murray. Then it was time for the national anthem and fireworks — both the actual fireworks and the fireworks generated by Parrish.
Photo caption: Riverhead’s Deontae Sykes (88) and Aaron Gaines-Bullock bring down Bellport’s speedy quarterback, Ka’Shaun Parrish. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)