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…)

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

10/19/13 8:02pm
10/19/2013 8:02 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Ryan Hubbard intercepted two passes and caught a 56-yard reception in Saturday’s win over Walt Whitman.

BLUE WAVES 28, WILDCATS 0

Dylan Pace briefly played quarterback during his younger days in P.A.L. Now as a junior on the Riverhead varsity, Pace is listed as an offensive lineman and defensive end, although his niche has been on special teams as a kicker.

In Saturday’s homecoming game against Walt Whitman, Pace’s role expanded to punter after the Blue Waves lost Dan Czelatka to an injury last week during their win over Smithtown West.

Over the last few weeks, the Blue Waves have practiced a fake punt play over and over, waiting for just the right time to unveil it. After two stalled drives to start Saturday’s game and the Blue Waves facing a fourth down in Whitman territory, Riverhead coach Leif Shay decided it was time.

Pace took the snap deep in punt formation, grabbed the ball with his right hand and fired a pass to Jaron Greenidge, who scampered 40 yards for a touchdown that stunned the Wildcats and put Riverhead ahead 14-0.

“I don’t even know how I threw it,” Pace said. “I wouldn’t call it lucky,” but I can throw it pretty good.”

Pace’s first varsity touchdown helped the Blue Waves roll to a 28-0 win over Whitman in front of a packed house at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.

The Blue Waves notched their second straight shutout to improve to 5-1 in Division II.

SEE ALSO: Photos from homecoming parade

After Pace threw the touchdown, he didn’t have time to celebrate. The Blue Waves needed him to kick the extra point. Then, he had to kick off.

“I’m just glad I threw a touchdown and got my first touchdown,” Pace said.

Even the coaches were pleasantly surprised.

“Dylan’s really stepping up as an athletic kid,” Shay said. “We didn’t know he could throw that well.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Jaron Greenidge makes one of his team-leading four catches against Whitman.


Pace has gotten better and better kicking extra points for Riverhead after the Blue Waves opened the season unsure who could kick. Shay said earlier in the season that it was important for the Blue Waves to be confident in kicking extra points.

Pace has now made his last seven kicks over the past two games.

“Toward the beginning of the season I was struggling with my extra points and kickoffs,” he said. “I’ve been practicing more and got better and better.”

Pace doesn’t consider himself an “actual kicker,” but said if the team needs him, he’s ready.

Senior Ryan Hubbard, who also had to step up in the absence of Czelatka, had a big day with two interceptions. He got the Blue Waves on the board in the first quarter with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown. Late in the second quarter he picked off another pass.

“He’s been great for us all year,” Shay said. “He’s stepping up because Czelatka’s down, but he’s always been solid for us.”

Riverhead’s defense carried the load on a day where the offense didn’t generate the same spark it has in some earlier games. The Wildcats, despite a 1-5 record, made life difficult for the Blue Waves on offense.

Senior Jeremiah Cheatom still churned out 116 yards on 18 carries. He scored the Blue Waves’ final touchdown on a 12-yard run in the third quarter.

“They did a good job of presenting us some fronts that we hadn’t seen yet,” Shay said.

Riverhead’s defense didn’t allow much of anything. Whitman mustered just 53 yards of offense.

“Defensively we knew they were quick,” said Riverhead linebacker Mike Van Bommel. “No. 10 (Jaron Batts), small, shifty, we knew we had to corral him.”

The Blue Waves limited Batts to only 10 yards on 10 carries. The Blue Waves’ defense produced seven tackles for a loss.

“We finally started meshing,” Van Bommel said. “Playing as a team, we’re playing good responsible football.”

The Blue Waves scored two of their touchdowns on fourth down plays. Pace’s touchdown in the first quarter and then quarterback Cody Smith threw a 32-yard pass to Andrew Kinard in the second quarter on fourth-and-eight. That put the Blue Waves ahead 21-0. Kinard snatched the ball right out from under Terhon Legros, who was in disbelief that he let the ball go right past him.

Riverhead’s win sets the stage for what should be a good one next week against West Islip. The teams came into this week in a three-way tie for first place along with Smithtown West.

Before the season, one of Riverhead’s goals was to win “two out of the three W’s,” Van Bommel said, eluding to Smithtown West, Walt Whitman and West Islip.

So far, the Blue Waves are two-for-two.

“We would definitely like to go three-for-three,” Van Bommel said.

NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of Benjamin Goodale, a Riverhead police officer who died suddenly Oct. 15. Mr. Goodale graduated from Riverhead in 1990 and played football during his high school years.

Riverhead senior Taylor Burgess, the 2013 Riverhead Idol winner, sang the national anthem prior to kickoff.

joew@timesreview.com