11/16/13 6:39pm
11/16/2013 6:39 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead running back Jeremiah Cheatom races toward the end zone for one of his three touchdowns Saturday against Newfield.

DIVISION II SEMIFINALS  |  BLUE WAVES 34, WOLVERINES 20

The end zone was never farther away at any point this season. Still, that’s where Jeremiah Cheatom stared ahead, knowing that somehow, that’s where he needed to be.

Late in the third quarter Saturday, trailing by a point against Newfield in the Division II semifinals, Riverhead began its second straight drive pinned as far back as possible: inside the 1-yard line, the end zone a full field away.

“When I’m at the 1-yard line, I’m looking at the end zone,” Cheatom said. “That’s where I want to go.”

With their backs pinned against the wall and the game’s momentum slipping away, the Blue Waves mounted their most impressive drive of the season when it counted most. The Blue Waves marched 99 yards on 16 plays, capped by a stirring 22-yard touchdown run from Cheatom that helped lift Riverhead to a thrilling 34-20 victory at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.

The Blue Waves punched their ticket to Friday’s Division II county championship game at Stony Brook University, where they’ll look to successfully defend their county title. Riverhead (9-1) will meet East Islip, the only team that’s defeated the Blue Waves this season.

There was nothing easy about taking down the fifth-seeded Wolverines, a team the Blue Waves defeated 21-8 in Week 8.

“This was a battle,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay, who was as emotional on the sideline in the second half as at any point in the season, even earning a flag for a sideline warning from an official.

The two-touchdown difference wasn’t entirely indicative of just how close it was. The Wolverines grabbed the lead at 20-19 on the third play of the second half when quarterback Dylan Harned bounced out of a scrum and bolted up the right sideline for a 64-yard touchdown run.

After Riverhead went three-and-out, the Wolverines got the ball back twice with a chance to add another touchdown. And both times Riverhead’s defense came through with a monumental stop on two fourth-and-goal plays.

The Wolverines missed two touchdowns by about four total inches.

“Those goal-line stands were great,” said Riverhead linebacker Mike Van Bommel. “I’m so proud of my guys.”

The first stop came on an 10-yard scramble from Harned on fourth-and-goal from the 11. He was stopped inches shy of the right pylon. The Blue Waves took over, but three plays later, Cheatom fumbled the ball on a play Shay was adamant should have been ruled down by contact. But the Wolverines got the ball right back on the Riverhead 6-yard line. And again, the Blue Waves got a stop when Josh Hanna was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 4.

That set up Riverhead’s go-ahead drive, which spanned 6 minutes and 4 seconds.

“Our O-line took great pride in themselves,” Van Bommel said. “We were able to drive the whole length of the field for a score and I was really proud of our guys for that.”

When the Blue Waves defeated Half Hollow Hills West in the first round of the playoffs last week, Cheatom noted after the game how he didn’t break a big run. He predicted one was coming.

Late in the fourth quarter against Newfield, Cheatom delivered. After the defense came through with a huge three-and-out, Cheatom took the handoff on first down and sprinted 79 yards for the clinching touchdown, his third of the game.

“It came at the perfect time for us,” Shay said. “Jeremiah’s a special player. Obviously we’ve been leaning on him heavily this year. Hopefully one more game we’ll keep leaning on him.”

Van Bommel said as he saw Cheatom break open the run up the right sideline, there was no feeling like it.

“One second you’re blocking, the next second you see the best running back on Long Island sprinting down the sideline scoring a touchdown,” he said. “It’s great to know you have a guy in the backfield like that.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead junior R.J. Foster returned the game’s opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown.

The Blue Waves have been a strong second half team all season and they proved it once again in the fourth quarter. Newfield had zero yards of offense in the fourth quarter, punting on both possessions after three-and-outs. After scoring a touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter, Newfield totaled 26 yards of offense the remaining portion of the game and did not score.

Cheatom finished with another monster day. He tallied a game-high 199 rushing yards on 30 carries. Quarterback Ken Simco, filling in for the third straight game in place of injured senior Cody Smith, was 8-for-10 passing for 112 yards. He threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to senior Daren Jefferson that put Riverhead ahead 19-6 in the second quarter.

“The more reps he gets the better he’s going to get,” Shay said.

For the second straight game Riverhead opened with a huge special teams play. The Blue Waves recovered an onsides kick to start the Hills West game. And against Newfield, junior R.J. Foster returned the opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown. Riverhead led 12-0 after the first quarter. Cheatom scored on a 9-yard run with 30 seconds left in the first.

The Blue Waves will face a tough challenge against East Islip, which defeated Smithtown West in overtime Friday night.

The Blue Waves wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’re looking for revenge,” Cheatom said. “They beat us early in the season so we’re definitely looking to get the win.”

joew@timesreview.com

11/16/13 8:00am
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Riverhead senior Jeremiah Cheatom powered the Blue Waves' offense on the ground Saturday against Newfield.

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Jeremiah Cheatom leads the Blue Waves in the semifinals today against Newfield.

For the second time in three years, the Riverhead Blue Waves and Newfield Wolverines will meet in the Division II playoffs. The teams will kick off at 1 p.m. today at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field with a trip to the county championship game on the line.

The teams come into the game from opposite directions compared to when they met in 2011. The Blue Waves lost 37-0 on the final day of the regular season in 2011 to Newfield and promptly lost in the playoffs, 49-19.

It’s a different story this year, as the Blue Waves are the top seed in Division II and defeated Newfield 21-8 on the final day of the regular season. Both teams opened the playoffs with wins. Riverhead defeated Hills West, 44-21, while Newfield, the No. 5 seed, defeated West Islip, 18-14.

For updates from today’s game, follow the News-Review on Twitter

Riverhead’s defense bottled up Newfield throughout the previous matchup in Week 8. The only touchdown the Blue Waves allowed came in the final seconds of the first half set up after Newfield completed a long pass amid a crowd of Riverhead defenders. The Wolverines connected on two straight passes to reach the end zone in under 20 seconds.

Junior Ken Simco will start at quarterback for the third straight game in place of injured senior Cody Smith. Simco’s first start came against Newfield.

The winner of today’s game will advance to the Division II county finals Nov. 22 at Stony Brook University against East Islip, which defeated Smithtown West Friday night.

joew@timesreview.com

11/15/13 10:05pm
11/15/2013 10:05 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Babylon senior Jake Carlock makes a one-handed interception on a pass intended for Shoreham-Wading River receiver Isreal Squires in Friday night’s Division IV semifinal.

DIVISION IV SEMIFINALS  |  PANTHERS 42, WILDCATS 13

One of the most successful seasons in Shoreham-Wading River’s history came to an end Friday night at the hands of a team that’s well versed in sending other teams packing.

Top-seeded and unbeaten Babylon rolled to its 22nd straight win by walloping Shoreham, 42-13, in the Division IV semifinals at Babylon High School. The Wildcats, the No. 4 seed, finished the season 7-3.

Babylon advances to play No. 3 John Glenn in the county finals next week. Glenn rallied from a 14-0 hole to defeat Mount Sinai, 21-14, in the other semifinal Friday night at Mount Sinai High School.

The Wildcats never had much of a chance against the talented Panthers, whose spread offense and multitude of weapons made life miserable for the Shoreham defense. Babylon led 20-0 late in the second quarter before Shoreham broke through with a 36-yard pass play for a touchdown. Quarterback Daniel Hughes connected with junior Bryce Casey on a slant pattern for the touchdown with 4:03 left in the second quarter.

The Wildcats were in position to maybe make a game of it if they could get a stop on Babylon’s next possession. Shoreham had the ball to to start the second half.

But the Panthers marched 73 yards in just under three minutes to score another touchdown before the half and extend the lead to 26-6 at halftime.

Babylon senior running back Eric Schweitzer scored two touchdowns on the ground and tallied 113 rushing yards. Quarterback Nick Santorelli completed 7 of 11 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Ray Wardell, who’s 6-foot-5, caught four passes for 63 yards and had one touchdown. Wide receiver Jake Carlock caught a 30-yard touchdown pass and also returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown on the Wildcats’ first possession of the second half.

Shoreham senior Tyler Anderson tallied a game-high 167 yards on 14 carries. He scored an 82-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for Shoreham’s second score and ran for 25 yards on the game’s final play.

Hughes completed 7 of 15 passes for 117 yards. He was picked off three times.

Shoreham was without receiver/defensive back Isreal Squires in the second half because of a hip injury. Sophomore defensive back Chris Rosati was also limited with a nagging hamstring injury.

It was the second straight year Shoreham’s season ended in the semifinals. Two years ago the Wildcats lost to Babylon in the first round of the playoffs.

The Wildcats are now 1-15 all-time against the Panthers, who are marching toward a second straight Long Island title.

joew@timesreview.com

11/15/13 12:30pm
DANIEL DE MATO FILE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Daniel Hughes scrambles with the ball against Babylon in Week 2.

DANIEL DE MATO FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Daniel Hughes scrambles with the ball against Babylon in Week 2.

When the Shoreham-Wading River football team lines up against Babylon tonight in the semifinals of the Division IV playoffs, the odds will most definitely be stacked against the Wildcats.

The Panthers, defending Class IV Long Island champions, will take a 21-game win streak onto their home field, where they’ve been nearly unbeatable over the past decade. The Panthers have lost just twice since the start of the 2011 season.

While the top-seeded Panthers (9-0) enter as favorites, there’s reason for Shoreham (7-2) to be optimistic.

How can the Wildcats pull off the upset?

1. Control the clock

The Wildcats have relied on their ground game all season behind a veteran offensive line and the aggressive running of senior Tyler Anderson. In the first round of the playoffs, Anderson exploded for more than 400 rushing yards to break his previous school record. It won’t be that easy against Babylon, which has allowed double-digit points only twice this season. The Wildcats were one of those teams. But their 14 points scored were toward the end of the game after it already was lopsided. The Wildcats will need to control the pace of the game in order to win, running long drives, even if they end up without points.

2. Limit Babylon’s passing attack

Babylon quarterback Nick Santorelli lit up the Shoreham defense in the regular season matchup. Babylon’s strength is its ability to spread out a defense and throw the ball, which opens up the running game between the tackles. The Panthers have two dynamite receivers with tremendous size in 6-foot-5 Ray Wardell and 6-foot-2 Jack Carlock. The two combined for 12 receptions and three touchdowns when the teams last met. The Wildcats will need to avoid giving up big plays through the air, especially early in the game. If the Wildcats can force Babylon to run the ball, they’ll have a much better chance on defense.

3. Special teams

A key ingredient in any upset is the play of special teams, which can help swing the momentum of a game. The Wildcats have a tremendous kicker in Zach McAuley, who has the potential to add three points with a field goal if a drive stalls. A kick-off return or punt return for a touchdown would go a long way toward helping the Wildcats win an upset. Anderson has been returning kicks for Shoreham. He returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in Week 8 against Port Jefferson.

4. No mistakes

It goes without saying in any football game, but for the Wildcats to have a chance, they can’t cough the ball up or commit needless penalties. If the Wildcats can win the turnover battle, the game could be there in the end for the taking. And if the Wildcats can put Babylon in an uncomfortable position of being in a tight game in the fourth quarter, who knows what might happen.

11/10/13 10:00am
11/10/2013 10:00 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead running back Jeremiah Cheatom carried the Blue Waves on the ground Saturday against Hills West.


The 8-1 Riverhead Blue Waves opened the playoffs in style Saturday with a 44-21 win over Half Hollow Hills West. The win sends Riverhead into the semifinals next week against No. 5 Newfield.

See below for photos from Riverhead’s win over the Colts.

11/09/13 4:30pm
11/09/2013 4:30 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Tyler Anderson scored five touchdowns in Saturday’s playoff win over Center Moriches.

SUFFOLK DIVISION IV QUALIFYING ROUND | WILDCATS 56, RED DEVILS 29

More than anything, it was a testament to the offensive firepower of Shoreham-Wading River’s football team and Tyler Anderson’s running ability.

To put things in perspective, Center Moriches is not a bad offensive team itself, with several weapons to draw upon. So, perhaps a shootout was inevitable in the Suffolk County Division IV qualifying round game on Saturday in Shoreham. The statistics put up were video game-esque. Just look at them: A total of 85 points were scored. Over 1,100 yards of offense were registered. The Wildcats picked up 504 of those yards on the ground alone. Their star running back, Tyler Anderson, ran for 401 yards himself and scored five touchdowns.

Incredible numbers.

Of course, the numbers that counted most favored the Wildcats, who on their record day picked up their second career playoff win, 56-29. It was the most points the Wildcats have ever scored in the six playoff games they have played in their history. Now the fourth-seeded Wildcats (7-2) want to set another team record — for the most playoff wins in a year. To do that, they will have to upset No. 1 Babylon (9-0), the defending Long Island champion, when the teams play in a county semifinal Friday night. No easy task. Babylon defeated the Wildcats, 36-14, on Sept. 20.

But Saturday was Shoreham’s day.

No one had a bigger game — and more gaudier numbers — than Anderson. The senior was handed the ball 27 times, ran for four touchdowns (including as 78-yarder to help cap the scoring) and caught a 19-yard pass for another touchdown. He also had scoring runs of 36, 32 and 18 yards. In addition, he had 51 receiving yards from two catches.

Three of the five completions by Shoreham’s quarterback, Danny Hughes, went for touchdowns, two by Isreal Squires (two catches, 84 yards). Hughes also ran for a touchdown and had 92 yards on nine carries.

Following Anderson’s first touchdown of the day, a surprise onside kick by Shoreham’s Zack MacAuley was recovered by teammate Daniel Smith. Two plays later, Hughes hooked up on a 48-yard connection for Squires’ second touchdown. MacAuley’s extra point — one of a school-record eight for him in the game — with 5 minutes 32 seconds left in the first quarter, made the score 21-8.

The Wildcats were off and running. They generated 658 yards worth of offense.

Center Moriches (6-3), which came off a 1-7 season, picked up most of its 446 yards through the air. Tyrell Thomas threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns from 14-of-22 passing. Tarik Rountree (nine catches, 126 yards) caught two of those touchdown passes and John-Cody Cerverizzo (three catches, 136 yards) pulled in the other.

Herbert Plummer (seven carries, 88 yards) took a lateral and darted around the left side 53 yards for Center Moriches’ first touchdown. A Thomas pass to Cerverizzo for the 2-point conversion gave the Red Devils a brief 8-7 lead. It lasted 65 seconds before an Anderson touchdown dash put the Wildcats ahead to stay. The Wildcats produced touchdowns on their first three possessions.

Center Moriches, which has reached the playoffs four times in six years, has yet to experience a playoff win. Their cause wasn’t helped by five turnovers. Shoreham, which has won five of its last six games, did not turn the ball over once.

Chris Rosati recovered two fumbles for the Wildcats and Brennan Gorman came up with another one. Rosati also intercepted a pass, as did Squires. Aaron Harley-Rey led the team with 8 tackles, 5 of them solo.

Thomas made 9 tackles and defended three passes for Center Moriches.

bliepa@timesreview.com

11/09/13 4:04pm

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Ryan Hubbard (2) celebrates with Jeremiah Cheatom after returning a punt for a touchdown in the first quarter Saturday against Hills West.

BLUE WAVES 44, COLTS 21

As Ryun Moore surged across midfield, bring the Blue Waves one final first down, Riverhead coach Leif Shay yelled out the next play: “Aces! Victory!”

All the remained was a kneel down, as the Blue Waves put the finishing touches on a 44-21 victory over Half Hollow Hills West in the first round of the Division II playoffs Saturday afternoon at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.

The top-seeded Blue Waves excelled in all facets of the game, from offense to defense and special teams.

Backup quarterback Ken Simco, filling in for the second straight week for injured senior Cody Smith, scored two rushing touchdowns (both QB sneaks) and threw for another on a play-action pass to Mike Van Bommel. Senior Ryan Hubbard returned a punt for a touchdown on special teams. And the defense intercepted two passes (Andrew Kinard and Ethan Greenidge) and forced a safety.

Running back Jeremiah Cheatom powered the offense on the ground with 171 yards on 39 carries. Moore had a big day as well, adding 85 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.

Riverhead advances to the semifinals next Saturday where the Blue Waves will host No. 5 Newfield, the winner over No. 4 East Islip. Teams are reseeded after the first round. No. 2 Smithtown West won Friday night and No. 3 East Islip defeated Smithtown East, so the teams remain in the same bracket.

The Blue Waves haven’t trailed very often this season, but they were staring at a 14-7 deficit after Hills West quarterback Anthony Lucarelli connected with a wide open Jake Klose on a 54-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first quarter.

But the Blue Waves rallied to score the next 28 points and blow the game open. The Blue Waves took the lead into halftime at 21-14 when Cheatom scored from three yards out with under a minute to play in the second quarter.

Riverhead then opened the third quarter with an 11-play, 58-yard drive that Simco capped with a 1-yard touchdown run. The score remained the same until the fourth quarter when Simco completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Van Bommel to make it 35-14.

Simco completed 10 of 14 passes. Jaron Greenidge, who missed last week’s game, had 4 receptions.

joew@timesreview.com

11/09/13 10:00am
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Riverhead senior Jeremiah Cheatom powered the Blue Waves' offense on the ground Saturday against Newfield.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Jeremiah Cheatom leads the Blue Waves against Half Hollow Hills West today

No team in Division II has won back-to-back county championships since Bellport in 2005 and ’06. This afternoon, the Riverhead Blue Waves will take the first step toward becoming the first team to accomplish that feat since the Clippers.

The Blue Waves enter the playoffs today as the No. 1 seed in a deep division that features eight quality teams in the postseason. Look no further than today’s opponent, eighth-seeded Half Hollow Hills West. The Colts finished 5-3, have won their previous four games and have averaged 36.5 points per game over that span. The Colts ended the season with a 28-21 victory over West Islip, the No. 4 seed in the playoffs and a possible second-round matchup for Riverhead.

Today’s game kicks off at 1 p.m. at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.

The Blue Waves will once again turn to junior Ken Simco at quarterback. Senior Cody Smith will miss another game with an eye injury, coach Leif Shay said. Other than that, the Blue Waves should be back to full strength. Jaron Greenidge is expected to play today and Shay said there are no off the field issues preventing any players from starting today.

Follow the News-Review on Twitter for updates throughout the game.

Meanwhile in Division IV, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats will open the playoffs today at home against No. 5 Center Moriches. The Wildcats closed out the regular season 6-2 and will host a playoff game for the second straight year.

The Wildcats did not face Center Moriches in the regular season.

The top two seeds in Division IV both won Friday night. Undefeated Babylon rolled over East Hampton, 53-8, and No. 2 Mount Sinai hung on for a 20-14 victory over Greenport.

A win today would send the Wildcats to Babylon for the second round, unless No. 6 Bayport-Blue Point can defeated No. 3 John Glenn. That would send the Wildcats to Mount Sinai to face a team they already beat this year.

Check back tonight for full coverage of both games.

joew@timesreview.com