05/13/14 8:12pm
05/13/2014 8:12 PM
Riverhead senior Ryan Hubbard matched a career-high with seven goals against West Babylon Tuesday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Riverhead senior Ryan Hubbard matched a career-high with seven goals against West Babylon Tuesday. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

BLUE WAVES 15, EAGLES 8

When Vic Guadagnino became the varsity lacrosse coach at Riverhead four years ago, he took over a relatively unknown program compared to the many powerhouses spread throughout Suffolk County. Slowly, he began to put his mark on the program, building from the bottom up.

That first season, a quartet of promising freshmen joined him on the varsity. As the years went by, and the win totals started to increase, the presence of those four players began to leave an indelible mark.  (more…)

12/03/13 7:00am
12/03/2013 7:00 AM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Ryun Moore, making his third start at running back, navigates around Carey's Joseph Lucito for a first down.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Ryun Moore, making his third start at running back, navigates around Carey’s Joseph Lucito for a first down.

Ryun Moore has been referred to by Riverhead High School football coach Leif Shay as the team’s future. On Friday, though, the future became the present when Moore, a sophomore, was handed the starting running back assignment in the Long Island Class II championship game.

That’s a big spot for a young player. Moore admitted he felt nervous as the team bus pulled into the Hofstra University parking lot, “but after the first play, all of that goes away, you know. Football is football.”

Indeed, with a Long Island championship on the line, a game was to be played, and Moore played well in Riverhead’s 20-6 loss to Carey at James M. Shuart Stadium.

Two first-string Riverhead players, running back Jeremiah Cheatom and outside linebacker Taiheem McKay, both seniors, had to sit out the Long Island final. That meant a heavy dose of double duty for Moore, who also started on defense at outside linebacker.

“We had a lot of confidence in him,” Shay said. “There’s a difference between being the number one back and then being the complimentary back.”

Moore said he was excited by the opportunity to be his team’s primary ball carrier, and he didn’t let the Blue Waves down. Facing a tough Carey defense anchored by the likes of Conor Colasurdo (8 1/2 tackles), Matt Robison (7 1/2 tackles) and Joseph Lucito (7 tackles, 1/2 sack), Moore had his work cut out for him. Running behind an offensive line of tackles Michael Drexel and Ethan Greenidge, guards Jonathan Lee and Ryan Harkin, and center Edward Wills, he got the job done. Moore averaged 6.3 yards per carry and totaled a game-high 126 rushing yards, his longest run going for 30 yards.

That wasn’t all, either. Moore excelled on both sides of the ball. He made a team-leading 7 tackles, including one for a loss and forced a fumble.

“Ryun stepped up big and played his heart out,” said Riverhead senior Jaron Greenidge. Greenidge added: “He’s going to be something special in two years. … He’s going to be here again.”

Shay knows what type of an athlete he has in Moore. “He’s a good football player,” the coach said. “He’s matured a lot, too. He’s understanding that, ‘Hey, I got to make those tough three- and four-yard runs.’ Not every play is going to be a touchdown like it was on JV.”

This wasn’t the first time that Moore started a game at running back for Riverhead; it was his third start at that position. With Cheatom ineligible to play in the season opener against North Babylon, Moore used his explosiveness to produce 112 yards and a touchdown from 18 carries in that game.

Jaron Greenidge gave kudos to Moore and two other sophomores. “Tyrese Kerr, Ryun Moore and Sharon Trent are going to be, I’d say, superstars in two years,” said Greenidge.

Following the loss to Carey, Moore reflected on a season that he couldn’t feel too bad about.

“This was a great season,” he said. “Back in August, before two-a-days started, I honestly didn’t think we were going to make it back this far. We made it to LIC — again — so it’s a good feeling. A great season.”

With Moore returning next year, the Blue Waves have more to look forward to. They already know that Moore can carry the load offensively.

“He’ll come in next year and be a good player for us,” Shay said. “He’s the future. You’re going to see a lot of that kid in the future.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

11/29/13 11:28pm
11/29/2013 11:28 PM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead's Jaron Greenidge runs for a first down before meeting up with Carey's Taylor Steinberg.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead’s Jaron Greenidge runs for a first down before meeting up with Carey’s Taylor Steinberg.

LONG ISLAND CLASS II FINAL | SEAHAWKS 20, BLUE WAVES 6

Black Friday will forever have a different meaning to the Riverhead High School football team.

As extraordinary as this season has been for Riverhead, one couldn’t help but feel that a Long Island championship wasn’t in the cards for the Blue Waves on Friday. For one thing, Riverhead had lost the services of two senior starters, running back Jeremiah Cheatom and outside linebacker Taiheem McKay, because of academic ineligibility. At this final stage of the postseason, that would be a significant blow for any team.

Then again, that has been the way things have gone this year for the Blue Waves. They meet a challenge, and then prepare for the next one. So, what’s another obstacle?

Well, Carey, as it turned out, was quite a formidable one. Just ask Carey’s opponents in its previous 11 games, all wins by the Seahawks.

For the second year in a row, Riverhead’s quest for a second Long Island crown fell short in the Class II final. Carey, playing in its first Long Island final in team history, saw to that. The Seahawks scored all of their points in a span of 8 minutes 49 seconds in the second quarter and made it stand for a 20-6 triumph at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium.

Afterward, it was the Carey players jumping for joy and hugging each other for having capped a perfect 12-0 season while the Riverhead players solemnly trudged toward their sideline.

“It was just an off day,” said Riverhead senior Jaron Greenidge.

This has been a magical season for Carey, which a week earlier defeated Garden City for its first Nassau County title since 1978. Considering what Carey has now accomplished, it was only logical to ask the team’s seventh-year coach, Mike Stanley, if this is the best team the Seahawks have ever had?

“We can say it now,” replied a grinning Stanley, clutching a giant plaque shaped like Long Island.

How much of a difference did it make not having Cheatom and McKay on the field?

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Carey running back Mike DeLeo is stopped by Riverhead defensive lineman Jonathan Lee for no gain.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Carey running back Mike DeLeo is stopped by Riverhead defensive lineman Jonathan Lee for no gain.

“It’s hard when you have a leader like Jeremiah be at the heart of your running game, and you know Taiheem has been instrumental to us as the outside linebacker, but we’ve been doing it all year, replacing guys, next man up, next man up,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay, whose team is 1-3 in Long Island finals. “It was a little more difficult against a great team. Give Carey credit. This wasn’t us losing to Carey, this was Carey beating us.”

Cheatom’s absence was big, considering he ran for 1,742 yards and scored 18 touchdowns this year. Ryun Moore, a good-looking sophomore, started his third game of the season at running back in place of Cheatom, who missed the season-opening game because of academic ineligibility. Roger Foster started in place of McKay.

Asked about the impact of not having those two players, Moore said, “Honestly, it hurt us a lot.”

Although perhaps not as much as it might have, thanks a good deal to Moore, who also played outside linebacker. He ran for 126 yards on 20 rushes and made 7 tackles (5 unassisted), one for a loss.

Carey has been an offensive juggernaut, outscoring its opponents by 456-64. Its quarterback, senior Ray Catapano, put up video-game numbers, remarkable numbers this season: 36 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 2,163 yards.

So, imagine what went through the Seahawks’ minds when they completed the first quarter on Friday without having scored a point. “That never happened to us before,” said Catapano, who went 7 of 16 passing for 92 yards and was sacked three times.

For all of Catapano’s passing skill, it was his legs, not his arm, that brought Carey its first points. With the ball at the Riverhead 7-yard line, Catapano went back to pass. Seeing no one open, he scrambled first to his right before trekking back to his left and finding an opening into the end zone. He then made a 2-point pass to Nick Spillane for an 8-0 lead 1:34 into the second quarter.

With the Carey fans chanting, “Carey! Carey! Carey!”, the Seahawks wanted more. On the ensuing kickoff, Luke Spano scooped an onside kick that caught Riverhead (10-2) by surprise. Mike Catanese covered up the ball, giving Carey possession at the Riverhead 36.

No points came out of that drive, but Carey later went to the air to score on successive possessions. Catapano found Andrew Ris for a 24-yard scoring connection.

After Riverhead went into punt formation on its next series, a high snap to punter Dylan Pace forced Pace to tuck the ball and run for a two-yard loss on fourth down. That handed the ball over to Carey on the Riverhead 35, prompting the Seahawks to try some more trickery. On the first play after the botched attempted punt, Catapano lateralled to Ris, who threw to a wide open Spillane in the end zone.

“There’s no tomorrow, so we have to pull out everything that’s going to work,” said Stanley.

A fumble recovery by Raheem Brown set up the seven-play, 80-yard drive that brought Riverhead its only points of the game through a 14-yard pass from Cody Smith to Greenidge with 9:21 left to play. Smith went 21 of 32 passing for 161 yards.

Carey’s next drive ended when Moore forced a fumble that Tyrese Kerr recovered for Riverhead. The Blue Waves moved the ball on 12 plays before the drive stalled on the Carey 9. Carey then ran out the final 1:31 for the biggest win in team history.

“It’s unreal,” Ris said. “For the past couple of years we just wanted to get to this game and finish the season strong. No matter how we got here, we just wanted to finish it.”

What did this Carey team have that set it apart from others? Perhaps togetherness.

“It’s just a special night, a special season,” Stanley said. “We played a lot of young kids last year. They grew up fast and our commitment in the off-season was terrific, but this group cared about each other probably more than any other group we ever had.”

Catapano said: “I think our team defines the word family. The camaraderie on this team, you can’t find it anywhere else on the island. … There’s no other team I’d rather play for.”

Addressing his players after the postgame awards ceremony, Shay told them he didn’t want to see any tears or sadness.

“They should never hang their heads,” he told a reporter. “They’re Suffolk County champions. They’re back-to-back Suffolk County champions, and for everything that they’ve had to endure, the town should be very proud of these kids and they should be proud that the program is in a good place.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

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

11/17/13 12:00pm
11/17/2013 12:00 PM

RIVERHEAD SCHOOLS PHOTO | Riverhead seniors Jaron Greenidge and Carolyn Carrera both inked National Letters of Intent Friday to play lacrosse in college. Pictured are: Front Row, seated (l-r) Jaron Greenridge, Xann Greenridge, Mario Carrera, Carolyn Carrera and Dawn Carrera. Back Row, standing (l-r): Athletic Director Bill Groth, boys lacrosse coach Victor Guadagnino, guidance counselor Chris Martin, Jaron’s dad—Robin Greenridge, assistant girls lacrosse Coach Jim Janecek, girls lacrosse Coach Ashley King and RHS Principal Charles Regan.

Two Riverhead lacrosse players signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period to continue playing their sport in college.

Jaron Greenidge signed with Brevard College, a Division II school in Brevard, N.C. Carolyn Carrera signed with Hofstra University, where she also plans to play soccer. The signing period for soccer starts in February.

Greenidge, who’s currently playing on the Blue Waves’ football team that is headed to the county championship game, is a defenseman on the lacrosse team. As a sophomore, he was the Suffolk County Rookie of the Year. During that time, the Blue Waves have enjoyed their most successful seasons in program history, culminating in a playoff appearance last year.

Greenidge was a scholar athlete in 2012 and 2013 and was an all-county selection for lacrosse and football.

“Jaron has a lot of athleticism, dedication and a strong commitment to excellence,” said lacrosse coach Victor Guadagnino, who is also a social studies teacher at Riverhead. “He’s strong and he has a lot of speed.”

Carrera has not only been a star athlete at Riverhead, but one of the top students in her grade. She ranked third in her class with a 98.75 unweighted GPA.

On the field, Carrera is an All-American midfielder who was chosen to play on the Long Island Metropolitan Team that competed in the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s Division National Tournament at Lehigh University. Carrera was the first Riverhead lacrosse player selected for a such an honor.

Carrera was recently honored as one of 12 national finalists for the Wendy’s Heisman Award. She was the female winner of the award for New York. There was 102 state winners in contention to be one of the 12 national finalists.

“She’s a leader and a role model,” said lacrosse coach Ashley King. “She definitely has a bright future. I’m in awe of her efforts and abilities both on the playing field and in the community.”

10/12/13 8:46pm
10/12/2013 8:46 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Mike Van Bommel had one of three Blue Waves interceptions Saturday against Smithtown West.

BLUE WAVES 21, BULLS 0

In many ways, the Riverhead Blue Waves see a bit of themselves in the Smithtown West Bulls. Both teams have a dynamic running back who runs behind a zone blocking scheme.

To prepare for Smithtown’s offense, all the Blue Waves had to do was line up in practice against their offense.

Facing a team Saturday that was averaging 46.5 points per game, the Blue Waves’ defense delivered an epic performance, blanking the Bulls over 48 minutes while forcing three turnovers. Riverhead bottled up Smithtown running back Logan Greco and caused fits for quarterback Matt Heldberg when he dropped back to pass.

It all added up to a 21-0 victory for the Blue Waves, who handed the Bulls their first loss of the season on homecoming night at Smithtown West High School in front of a packed house. Smithtown (4-1) was the last unbeaten team to fall in Division II.

“We told our scout team, they did a better job all week than Smithtown West did,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay.

Smithtown West (4-1) never so much as reached the red zone against Riverhead. The Bulls closest scoring opportunity came at the end of the second quarter when John Pavacic came up short on a 47-yard field goal attempt.

Andrew Kinard, Mike Van Bommel and Ryan Hubbard all had interceptions for Riverhead. Steven Reid nearly had another, but couldn’t hang on to a pass that would have been an easy pick-six.

Senior Jaron Greenidge played a huge game on both sides of the ball for Riverhead. He caught two touchdown passes, the first on a 23-yard pass from quarterback Cody Smith. Greenidge made a terrific catch in the end zone, reaching in front of defensive back Christian Zawadzki, who had the position in front of Greenidge.

With under a minute left in the second quarter, Greenidge caught a 4-yard pass from Smith at the right pylon to put Riverhead ahead 14-0 at halftime.

The score remained that way until late in the fourth quarter when Jeremiah Cheatom ran in a 10-yard touchdown on the first play after an interception.

It’s been a dramatic turnaround for Riverhead’s defense after giving up 50 points to East Islip in Week 2, the only loss so far. Since then, the Blue Waves have given up just over 8 points per game.

The Blue Waves did it Saturday without senior Dan Czelatka, who was injured in the first quarter on defense. Czelatka appeared to land on his left elbow after leaping try to pick off a pass and suffered a dislocation, Shay said. He left the game in an ambulance.

Without Czelatka, a starter on both sides, the Blue Waves picked up the slack. Hubbard played a bigger role on both sides and caught a 22-yard pass. Daren Jefferson made an outstanding catch on a 35-yard pass play that helped set up Riverhead’s second touchdown.

Smith finished the game 11 of 13 passing for 173 yards. Cheatom carried the team on the ground with 138 hard-earned yards on 34 carries. Greenidge caught 5 passes for 87 yards.

Riverhead returns home next week for homecoming against Walt Whitman.

joew@timesreview.com

11/26/12 3:29am
11/26/2012 3:29 AM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead’s Andrew Kinard recovered a North Babylon Fumble and returned it to the 1-yard line before being knocked out of bounds during the Suffolk County Division II Championship.

SUFFOLK COUNTY DIVISION II FINAL | BLUE WAVES 52, BULLDOGS 20

Perhaps nothing can prepare a player who has never played in such a game for what it feels like to step onto the field for a Suffolk County football final. The prospect of playing what might be the biggest game of a player’s life can be a daunting one, even for an accomplished player like Riverhead quarterback Ryan Bitzer.

The full significance of the occasion might have struck Bitzer before his team walked onto the field for warmups before Sunday night’s Suffolk Division II final against North Babylon at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. “It was kind of unreal, just walking through that tunnel, seeing everybody, seeing the field,” Bitzer said. “It was crazy. I tried to control my emotions.”

It wasn’t long after that when Riverhead took control of the game and never loosened its grip.

For the second time in five years, Riverhead is on top of the Suffolk County football world. Facing a North Babylon team known for its running prowess, Riverhead’s high-octane offense produced a season-high point total by going to the air.

Bitzer, a senior, equaled his career-best with four touchdown passes as No. 1 seed Riverhead captured its sixth county championship and first since 2008 with a resounding 52-20 victory. Quinn Funn caught three of those passes as part of his four-touchdown game.

“Words can’t explain how I feel right now about this game,” Funn said. “We just do what we had to do and did what was planned, you know what I’m saying? It was a great game. Everybody played great, everybody played their role. That’s what happens, a great outcome.”

Jaron Greenidge, who was involved in six tackles and had half a sack for Riverhead, said, “This is a dream come true.”

The dream continues for Riverhead (9-2). On Saturday, the Blue Waves will play Garden City (10-1), winner of four straight Nassau County crowns, for the Long Island Class II crown at Stony Brook University. Riverhead won its only Long Island title in 2008.

“I’m really excited for these kids,” Riverhead coach Leif Shay said. “These guys really truly earned a spot here.”

No small thanks to Bitzer and Funn. Bitzer went 13 of 19 passing for 292 yards. Funn made a fine diving grab in the end zone for a 21-yard catch and later added scoring receptions of 29 and 6 yards. Bitzer also found Jeffrey Pittman open on the right sideline before Pittman shook off a defender and used his superior speed for a 60-yard scoring connection. It was his first touchdown since Week 1.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead’s Jeremiah Cheatom breaking through North Babylon’s defense for a first down in the third quarter.

“They’re big players who came up big in a big game,” said Shay.

Bitzer, who has 21 touchdown passes this season, was unfortunate not to have added another one to his collection. He hit Funn with a pass that looked like a sure touchdown, but North Babylon’s Dean Cicciari caught up to the high-stepping Funn, who slowed down before being brought down at the 1-yard line for a 75-yard completion. “I deserved that,” Funn said. “It won’t happen again, though.”

Bitzer ran the ball in for a touchdown two plays later for a 28-6 lead with 3 minutes 12 seconds left in the second quarter.

Funn finished with seven catches for 156 yards. Pittman had five receptions for 127 yards.

“I kind of surprised myself,” said Funn, who has 16 touchdown receptions this year. “I didn’t know I was going to have that kind of a breakout game.”

Riverhead’s offense generated 412 yards to North Babylon’s 214. The Bulldogs didn’t help their cause, either, by turning the ball over five times, four times on fumbles. Andrew Kinard was the cause of two of them, with an interception and a fumble recovery.

Four North Babylon turnovers led to Riverhead touchdowns, none so dramatically, though, as the first one. North Babylon’s Connor Slane lost control of the ball on a first-quarter run. The ball popped loose and right into the arms of Funn, who ran it back 6 yards for a touchdown.

“Everything seemed to be going our way tonight,” said Bitzer.

No. 5 North Babylon (7-4) scored on the game’s first drive with a 21-yard run by Melijah Purvis. It was the first of two touchdown runs for Purvis, who has 17 this season.

Riverhead registered 28 straight points before North Babylon gained some momentum going into halftime. On the final play of the first half, North Babylon’s Jake Conner caught a punt by Anthony Chiaramonte and ran to his left. Then Conner stopped and threw a crossfield lateral to Slane, who took the ball in for the touchdown. Matt Grassa ran in the two-point conversion.

But Riverhead, aided by Devrim Kucuk’s 29-yard field goal and a 1-yard touchdown run by Cody Smith, pulled away.

“We came out and did what we had to do, right from the get-go,” Bitzer said. “They couldn’t really stop us offensively. That’s kind of our mentality. We don’t ever want to be stopped.”

Riverhead lost the services of one of its linebackers, Matt Hejmej, who left the game with 5:19 to go in the second quarter. It was later reported that he tore a labrum in his right shoulder.

During the game’s dying moments, Riverhead’s Nick Ross and Eric Hulse dumped the icy contents of water bucket over Shay’s head. It could not have felt good for the coach on this cold evening, but he didn’t complain afterward about the surprise ice-water shower. He said, “You got to take good with the bad.”

So far this season for Riverhead, though, life has been mostly good.

bliepa@timesreview.com