11/23/13 3:00am
11/23/2013 3:00 AM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Hubbard, shown returning the game's opening kickoff, scored all three Riverhead touchdowns, including the game-winner, an 84-yard punt return with six seconds to go.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Hubbard, shown returning the game’s opening kickoff, scored all three Riverhead touchdowns, including the game-winner, an 84-yard punt return with six seconds to go.

SUFFOLK DIVISION II FINAL | BLUE WAVES 20, REDMEN 14

Jaron Greenidge was probably one of the few people at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Friday night who didn’t see what may go down as the greatest special-teams play in Riverhead football history.

Greenidge, you see, was preoccupied on the Riverhead sideline. “I was too busy bowing my head, praying, hoping for a miracle to happen,” the tight end/free safety said, “and there it is.”

Indeed. There it is. Greenidge’s prayers were answered.

Just about everyone in the stadium was expecting the Suffolk County Division II final to go into overtime as time wound down. The only thing is, Ryan Hubbard and his Riverhead friends had other ideas.

With the score tied at 14-14, an East Islip drive stalled, and the Redmen punted. Hubbard caught the ball at his own 16-yard line, darted to his right before immediately cutting to his left. A block by Steven Reid guided him to an open lane down the sideline, and Hubbard’s speed took things from there as he sped to the end zone for an 84-yard return for a touchdown with six seconds left, giving top-seeded Riverhead a 20-14 triumph. Talk about dramatic endings.

“It’s one for the ages,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay. He added: “It was just an amazing turn of momentum. Time stood still for me during that play.”

Riverhead tight end/linebacker Mike Van Bommel said: “We thought for sure we were going to overtime, and then Hubbard returns a punt [84] yards. Where did that come from?”

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Jeremiah Cheatom surges forward, bringing Riverhead yardage against East Islip.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Jeremiah Cheatom surges forward, bringing Riverhead yardage against East Islip.

As Hubbard scored his career-high third touchdown of the night, the Riverhead bench erupted in celebration. It was a rare trifecta for the senior, who scored an offensive, defensive and special-teams touchdown.

“My teammates just came over and started smacking me in the face and jumping on me and stuff,” Hubbard said. “It was crazy. I couldn’t even think. I was just jumping.”

On the kickoff that followed, Roger Foster made the tackle that ended the game. Riverhead helmets flew in the air as the Blue Waves raced toward each other on the field.

The victory gave the Blue Waves (10-1) their second county championship in a row and seventh over all.

“Words can’t even describe [it], you know,” Van Bommel said. “On the bus here, I was thinking to myself, ‘When am I going to wake up from this dream?’ And now that we won, it’s like the dream keeps going, you know. It keeps getting better and better.”

The dream has been extended another week. Riverhead earned the right to face Nassau County champion Carey in the Long Island Class II final on Friday at Hofstra Stadium.

This is the fourth county title Riverhead has won under Shay. “This one’s special because of what we’ve had to go through this year to get to this point,” he said. “It’s been a rocky road, just fighting, fighting, fighting. The resolve of our kids is just unbelievable.”

“Unbelievable” is a good word to describe Hubbard’s performance against No. 3 East Islip (8-3). He scored two touchdowns within nine seconds of each other in the second quarter. On the first one, Cody Smith zipped a 3-yard pass to Hubbard, who fell into the end zone for the score. On the next play from scrimmage, Hubbard stepped in front of a pass by Hugens Tranquille and returned the interception 22 yards for a touchdown. Nico Bossey’s extra point made it 14-0.

“The kid’s spectacular,” Van Bommel said of Hubbard. “The kid’s got moves and that interception was just crazy. He’s just a playmaker, you know.”

Hubbard, a wide receiver and defensive back, was humble afterward, crediting his teammates for his glory. “This is awesome,” he said. “This is probably the biggest game of my life. I’m just glad to be here.”

Riverhead is 18-3 against Suffolk teams over the past two years. Two of those losses came at the hands of East Islip, including a 50-36 defeat early this season.

This time, though, Riverhead’s defense tightened the screws considerably, with the aid of Ryun Moore, who made a game-high 10 tackles, 7 solo.

East Islip was held to 53 yards of offense in the first half, but came out strong in the second half. With nothing happening for East Islip in the air (the Redmen completed only two passes for 8 yards), it leaned heavily on the running of Erik Adon (26 carries, 121 yards). A 6-yard run around the right side by Matt Walter put East Islip on the scoreboard in the third quarter. Adon’s 9-yard scoring run, followed by Jake Piacenti’s kick, evened the score with 5:22 left in the fourth quarter.

Just like that, it was a new game.

“We were feeling it, you know,” Van Bommel said. “The game wears on you, and by the fourth quarter you got to dig deep, dig through that pain. We just dug deep, we stayed strong and got the job done.”

“There’s nothing like this feeling,” he added. “We’ve all had a great year. We don’t want this to end, but a Long Island championship would be pretty nice to end on.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

11/22/13 10:29pm
11/22/2013 10:29 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | The Riverhead Blue Waves celebrate their second straight Division II county championship Friday night after a thrilling 21-14 win over East Islip at Stony Brook University.

DIVISION II COUNTY FINALS
Riverhead 20, East Islip 14
Stony Brook University, LaValle Stadium

Ryan Hubbard scored three touchdowns — one on a pass, one on an interception and an 84-yard game-winning punt return — to give Riverhead its second straight Suffolk County Division II title Friday night.

Hubbard crossed the goal line for the game-winning score with just six seconds left on the clock. The game had been tied 14-14.

WATCH THE GAME-WINNING RETURN HERE

It’s the first back-to-back championship in Riverhead football history.

“It’s way better [for me this year],” said Riverhead’s Jaron Greenidge. “Senior year and we’ve been through a lot. Nobody thought we could make it here, but we made it here. We came through adversity and our team really pulled it out big time.”

Riverhead led the game 14-0 at halftime, but East Islip (8-3) responded with second half touchdowns from Matt Walter and Erik Adon, who led all players with 123 yards on 25 carries.

Jeremiah Cheatom had 87 yards on 22 carries for Riverhead, which has now won seven county titles. Waves quarterback Cody Smith completed nine of 15 passing attempts.

The Blue Waves (10-1) will play Nassau champion Carey (11-0) at 4:30 p.m. next Friday for the Long Island championship.

To read a play-by-play recap from tonight’s game, click on the blog below:

 

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Riverhead fans were fired up for tonight’s Division II county championship game against East Islip.

10/10/13 11:12pm
10/10/2013 11:12 PM

BLUE WAVES 17, 25, 25, 25, REDMEN 25, 17, 20, 18

The Riverhead High School girls volleyball team did not exactly get off to a rousing start against East Islip on Thursday, playing sluggishly while losing the first game.

You might say the Blue Waves were feeling, well, a bit blue due to the aftereffects of a tough loss to Suffolk County League IV leader Hauppauge last week.

That lackluster start did not last very long, though, as they bounced back in fine fashion, winning the next three games against the hosts to put themselves on the verge of reaching the Suffolk County Class AA Tournament for the first time in three years.

“It was a big-time win,” Riverhead coach Amy Greene said. “We have four more games left and we need to win one of them to make the playoffs. It’s good.”

To qualify for the postseason, teams must finish at least .500 in their league.

“It would be great to get to the playoffs again,” senior middle hitter Megan Brewer said. “I went to playoffs as a freshman, but we haven’t been there since.”

Riverhead (8-3, 5-3) hardly looked like a potential playoff team early on. After dropping the first game, 25-17, the Blue Waves won the next three over the Redmen (6-6, 3-4) — 25-17, 25-20 and 25-18.

Junior middle hitter Rachel Clement finished with 8 kills and 1 block. Junior libero Joscelin Morrow contributed 35 digs and 2 kills. Senior setter Sara Tucci added 21 assists and 16 digs, and Daniele Thomas had 5 kills and 16 digs.

But it took a while to get rolling.

“I think the regret of last game really took a toll on us,” Morrow said. “But I think it was a good warmup for the rest of the game and we put it together really well.

“Today was really important to build back our confidence. … We really needed to be the aggressor in that game. I thought we were a little timid, but we’re starting to get back that aggression … and not let them get the advantage.”

Instead, it was the Blue Waves who took advantage.

“After we picked it up it, we started playing our tone of volleyball,” Greene said. “We like to keep things fast. The faster we play, the better we are and the louder we are. When we picked up the momentum a bit we played a lot better.”

Morrow played a vital role to snap Riverhead out of its early doldrums.

“She picked it up for us, especially in that second match when we were trying to get going,” Greene said. “She was our boost on defense, picking up the ball. She was all over the floor. We can always rely on her back there to read the hits and be there. She did a nice job of that. Also in the front row, I think Megan Brewer did a real nice job at the net today, with blocking, with transitioning off to give us some kills.”

Riverhead became stronger as the match progressed and it showed in the final game. Leading by 17-16, the Blue Waves secured 6 consecutive points on Brewer’s serving to move into a commanding 23-16 lead, and never looked back.

“I was picking spots a lot more today,” Brewer said. “I have been getting better as the season goes on.”

“That leadership to take the aggression really spread to all of us,” Morrow said. “That gave us that push to finish it.”

The Blue Waves won’t have to play again until they meet Deer Park next Friday. They were scheduled to have a competition, though, a team scavenger hunt on Friday, Oct. 11. The team will be broken into smaller groups as a parent will drive them through town.

“We have to get a certain amount of things that we are asking people,” Morrow said. “It will be like a person in a yellow shirt and [we] say, ‘Can we take a picture with you?’ And then we’ll get points and win stuff.”

The winners will win goody bags.

Moreover, the Blue Waves will gain some more camaraderie.

“It’s more of just team bonding, getting the girls together and going to hang out,” Greene said. “I know they’re looking for that final prize at the end, which is that goody bag.”

If the chemistry is real good, then perhaps the real prize could be the Blue Waves reaching the playoffs for the first time in three years.

09/21/13 5:03pm
09/21/2013 5:03 PM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead running back Jeremiah Cheatom scored two touchdowns Saturday against East Islip.

REDMEN 50, BLUE WAVES 36

The added jolt Jeremiah Cheatom provides Riverhead’s offense is unmistakable. The Blue Waves on Saturday were more than happy to welcome back their senior running back, who missed Week 1 and most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Cheatom quickly reminded everyone why he’s one of the top backs in Division II. But even the added boost of Cheatom’s running wasn’t enough to overcome a multi-threat offense of East Islip.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead quarterback Cody Smith drops back to pass in the first quarter Saturday.

Behind four touchdowns from senior running back Erik Adon, the Redmen won a shootout, 50-36, on homecoming at East Islip.

The Blue Waves (1-1) took a 22-21 lead on the first possession of the second half when quarterback Cody Smith threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Greenidge, who also hauled in a two-point conversion pass from sophomore Ryun Moore.

But after that play, the East Islip (2-0) offense rolled off three straight touchdowns, all on runs from Adon to blow open what had been a close, back-and-forth game.

The preseason No. 1 seed, East Islip showed off an ability to score in a variety of ways. Their big, tough offensive line put the Blue Waves in a position to have take some chances on defense. And when the holes were there, East Islip’s runners converted.

Quarterback Jack Hannigan threw two long touchdowns, a 75-yarder to Matt Walter and a 66-yarder to Hugens Tranquille. Walter rushed for a second touchdown late in the fourth quarter, a 33-yard scamper for the final East Islip touchdown.

While the Blue Waves’ defense faltered, the offense showed it can put up some big numbers this year. Cheatom rushed for more than 170 yards and scored twice. Wide receiver Dan Czelatka caught two touchdown passes, the second one coming from backup quarterback Ken Simco with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter.

Starter Cody Smith threw two touchdowns.

The Blue Waves capitalized early in the game on some East Islip miscues. The Redmen coughed the ball up on the opening kickoff, giving Riverhead great field position to start the game. After East Islip’s first touchdown, the Redmen’s next two possessions ended with an interception. Czelatka and Ryan Hubbard both came down with picks.

East Islip didn’t turn the ball over again. Instead, the Redmen scored touchdowns on six of their next seven possessions.

Riverhead can walk away from the game knowing it can compete with one of the top teams in the league. And also the knowledge that last year after losing in East Islip, the Blue Waves still went on to win the county championship.

Riverhead returns to action next week at home against Central Islip.

joew@timesreview.com

09/21/13 12:50pm

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead running back/linebacker Raheem Brown leads the Blue Waves against East Islip today.

Riverhead (1-0) vs. East Islip (1-0)

Division II

East Islip High School

The Riverhead Blue Waves travel to East Islip this afternoon to face the preseason No. 1 seed in Division II. The Redmen opened the season with a 30-7 win over Walt Whitman.

Riverhead won against North Babylon 35-6 in a rematch of last year’s county championship.

Both teams had extended time to prepare for this game after starting the season on a Thursday.

To follow the action from today’s game, click on the live blog below:

05/13/13 11:17pm
05/13/2013 11:17 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Denise Brunskill of Riverhead took first place in the 100-meter high hurdles in 17.9 seconds.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Denise Brunskill of Riverhead took first place in the 100-meter high hurdles in 17.9 seconds.

Riverhead’s girls track and field team sealed the League IV championship in its final dual meet of the season on Monday, an 84-56 victory at East Islip.

Rachel Conti led the way for the Blue Waves, posting wins in both the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races. Her times were 5 minutes 18 seconds in the 1,500 and 12:26 in the 3,000. Another Riverheader, Denise Brunskill, finished first in the 100-meter high hurdles in 17.9 seconds.

Undefeated Riverhead completed its dual-meet season with a 6-0 record. East Islip is 4-2.

10/06/12 8:00pm
10/06/2012 8:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead cornerback Jeff Pittman tries to break up the pass play in front of East Islip receiver Hugens Tranquille.

REDMEN 24, BLUE WAVES 14

The stat line alone hardly jumps off the page: 99 rushing yards on 31 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per carry.

East Islip senior halfback Andre Deegan, at 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, may not be among the flashiest of runners on Long Island. A methodical grinder, Deegan never broke a run for double-digit yards against Riverhead Saturday afternoon at East Islip High School.

Slowly but surely, Deegan helped wear down the Blue Waves’ defense, softening the pass coverage to allow East Islip to strike through the air.

And when it was over, Deegan had a pair of touchdowns, both on 1-yard runs, to propel the Redmen past Riverhead 24-14 in a game the Blue Waves never led.

“They controlled the clock,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay. “They controlled the game and we weren’t able to answer.”

East Islip remains unbeaten at 5-0 as does West Islip, which knocked off Copiague Saturday. The loss, dropping Riverhead to 3-2, all but eliminates the Blue Waves’ chances of finishing the regular season atop Division II.

With another tough game looming next weekend against Newfield, the focus now for Riverhead is trying to secure a playoff spot and possibly a top-four seed for a home game in the first round.

East Islip and West Islip do not play each other, so both could run the table and finish the regular season undefeated.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead linebackers Ryan Harkin (57) and Nick Ross try to bring down the East Islip runner.

The Redmen controlled the line of scrimmage against Riverhead, allowing quarterback Casey Nolan plenty of time to sit in the pocket and find receivers. He got off to a rough start by misfiring on his first four passes. But he connected on nine of his next 15, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mike Lee that gave East Islip the first score of the game in the second quarter.

For Riverhead, the running game never got on track as the Redmen were able to bottle up halfback Jeremiah Cheatom. He had three big runs for 20+ plus yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run that made it 21-14 early in the fourth quarter. The three big runs accounted for the majority of Cheatom’s 112 rushing yards.

“I thought we were going to be able to move the ball a little bit better,” Shay said. “I don’t know that Jeremiah read the zone very well at times.”

Shay said the Redmen didn’t do anything defensively that they hadn’t seen on film.

“They were physical up front,” he said. “They did a nice job of bend but not break.”

After Cheatom’s touchdown cut East Islip’s lead to seven, the Riverhead defense forced East Islip to punt on its next possession after picking up one first down.

The Blue Waves got the ball back at their own 20 with 9:02 left, needing to drive the length of the field, something they hadn’t done all game. Both of Riverhead’s touchdowns came on a short field.

The Blue Waves picked up a pair of first downs to get near midfield, but Paul Dondero halted any momentum by picking off a pass from quarterback Ryan Bitzer, one of four interceptions on the day (the first came on a long pass at the end of the first half that wasn’t returned).

“The linebackers were really bailing out to take away some of the routes,” Shay said. “He needs to be a little more patient.”

Junior Jaron Greenidge led the Blue Waves with six catches for 64 yards. He caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bitzer on the Blue Waves’ first drive of the third quarter to make it a 14-7 game.

Bitzer’s top target this season, Quinn Funn, was never able to break free for big plays. He did finish with four catches for 61 yards.

“Obviously they were keying on him,” Shay said. “They were bracketing coverage on him.”

Shay said they need to be more patient and look for more receivers in the passing game.

Senior Jeff Pittman had the most game action since his Week 2 ankle injury. But he wasn’t a big factor on offense with three catches for 32 yards.

Cheatom was the only back to carry the ball for Riverhead. Bitzer scrambled three times to account for the only other rushing yards.

East Islip made it a two-possession game with a 22-yard field goal with under five minutes to play in the fourth. Riverhead turned it over again on its next possession when Steve Walsh picked off Bitzer.

“We’ve got to get smarter as a football team and stop making mental errors,” Shay said. “Execute drives and be patient. The key to beating us right now is to just be patient and smart and we’ll make a mistake.”

joew@timesreview.com

10/06/12 4:45pm

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead receiver Quinn Funn hauls in a pass during last week’s win against Hills West.

Riverhead (3-1) vs. East Islip (4-0)

Division II

East Islip High School

The Riverhead Blue Waves returned to form last week with a 42-9 victory over Hills West to finish the midway point of the regular season 3-1 in Division II. Despite the win, Riverhead dropped one spot in the power rankings and enter Week 5 third with 117.7.

The Blue Waves will face one of the two teams ahead of them in the standings this afternoon as they travel to East Islip. The Redmen are 4-0 and in second place behind West Islip.

East Islip has gotten off to an impressive start to the season with blowouts in all four victories. The Redmen are averaging 42 points per game behind a balanced rushing attack and the arm of quarterback Casey Nolan. East Islip’s defense has been equally as impressive by allowing only 4.75 points per game. The Redmen have two shutouts so far.

To follow this afternoon’s game from East Islip High School, click on the live blog below. Former Riverhead Blue Wave and Stony Brook University student Michael Hejmej will provide updates on all the action.