10/20/13 12:00pm
10/20/2013 12:00 PM

Riverhead Blue Waves football

The Riverhead football team improved its record to 5-1 with a 28-0 victory over Walt Whitman Saturday.

You can read a full recap, including sound bites from interviews and game video by clicking here.

View more photos from the game in the gallery below:

Next Saturday at 2 p.m. is the Waves’ regular season home finale against 5-1 West Islip.

09/22/13 10:17am
09/22/2013 10:17 AM


We’re used to seeing instant replays from a handful of angles following a disputed call in a televised football game. But in the world of high school football, it’s rare you ever see an instant replay.

News-Review contributing photographer Daniel De Mato has given us that rare opportunity this week.

You could hear grumbles from the East Islip crowd Saturday when Riverhead wide receiver Dan Czelatka made a spectacular diving catch along the sideline in the end zone during the fourth quarter. The officials ruled it a touchdown.

De Mato’s photo shows Czelatka did, in fact, get a foot down in the end zone. Or did he?

You be the judge.

09/12/13 7:24pm
09/12/2013 7:24 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead sophomore Ryun Moore had an impressive varsity debut in the Blue Waves’ win over North Babylon Thursday.


Coming off a county championship and featuring a roster loaded with underclassmen, the players on the 2013 Riverhead football team know they have big shoes to fill this season.

If Thursday’s season-opening win over North Babylon is any indication, the Blue Waves will be up to the task.

Riverhead scored three first half touchdowns, cruising to a 35-6 home victory.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Riverhead head coach Leif Shay, who noted that several academically ineligible and injured players have forced others into a larger role to start the season. “The young kids stepped up.”

Most notably among them were sophomore Ryun Moore, who started at running back for injured returning starter Jeremiah Cheatom, and junior linebacker Raheem Brown.

Moore, who admitted after the game that he didn’t lose the jitters until halftime, carried the ball 18 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. His longest run was a 35-yard carry early in the fourth quarter.

Coach Shay said Moore will continue to develop over time.

“He’s powerful and compact and he doesn’t even really know what he’s doing yet,” Shay said. “That’s the scary part. He’s built like a man, but he’s still a young kid.”

The same can be said about Brown, who recorded a pair of sacks in the game, and even carried the ball three times for 44 yards in the fourth quarter, setting up the Waves’ final touchdown — a 9-yard yard run by senior Taiheem McKay.

Brown and the defense, led by senior defensive lineman Ryan Harkin and linebacker Mike Van Bommel, forced two early turnovers and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the game’s first 43 minutes.

The teams actually traded early turnovers after the Waves fumbled the opening kickoff.

Perhaps the biggest question for Riverhead coming into the season was how well quarterback Cody Smith could fill in for three-year starter Ryan Bitzer, who graduated in June. He quickly responded by completing his first 10 pass attempts. He finished the game 13 of 17 for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also scored on a 1-yard run that put the Blue Waves ahead 20-0 with 7:59 to play in the second quarter.

“It was a little nerve wracking,” he said of his first varsity start. “But once you get on the field and you get that first play in, it just flies off you and you get in a zone.”

Smith’s first play Thursday was a 20-yard completion to the tight end Van Bommel, who would later add catches of 18 and 19 yards, the latter a fourth quarter touchdown.

Fellow tight end Jaron Greenidge caught Smith’s first touchdown pass, a 9-yard scoring strike to cap the Waves’ first offensive series. He finished with a team-high five catches.

Senior Daniel Czelatka led all receivers with 61 yards on four receptions.

The Blue Waves defeated North Babylon twice last season, including a 52-20 victory in the Division II championship game at Stony Brook University. Despite being the defending champion, Riverhead is ranked third this season and North Babylon slipped to No. 6.

Moore said the season-opening win is exactly what the Blue Waves needed.

“It’s real important,” the sophomore said. “It sets the tone for the season and let’s everyone know we’re playing no games this year.”

Coach Shay said next week’s road matchup against top-ranked East Islip made winning the opener, which he called a “confidence builder,” that much more important.

“We needed to get this one,” he said.

Cheatom said he expects to return next week, though Coach Shay said he must first show he’s physically able to play.

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04/24/13 1:10pm
04/24/2013 1:10 PM

Riverhead High School graduate Miguel Maysonet’s professional football career begins with the NFL Draft this weekend. While it’s unlikely Maysonet will be drafted before the final rounds Saturday, it’s inevitable he’ll at least get a shot with an NFL team this season.

We sat down with Maysonet this week to discuss his football career and the upcoming draft. Read more about it in this week’s News-Review and later this week on riverheadnewsreview.com.

In the meantime, here’s what some of the leading NFL draft websites are saying about his draft prospects:


Position rank: 10

Quote: “Workhorse. Runs with a chip on his shoulder.”

CBS Sports

Position rank: 24

Overall rank: 320

Projection: Seventh round or free agent


Quote: “He isn’t flashy and hasn’t shown passing down ability because of limited repetitions, but he could produce as a ball carrier if given an opportunity.”

NFL player comparison: Alfred Morris


Position rank: 23

Projection: Late round or free agent


Position rank: 29

Projections: Seventh round or free agent

12/29/12 12:00pm
12/29/2012 12:00 PM

DANIEL D’AMATO FILE PHOTO | Riverhead receiver Jeff Pittman scores a touchdown in the county championship game.

If the pressure of entering the season as the No. 1 seed in Division II affected the Riverhead football team, the Blue Waves didn’t show it in their season-opener at West Babylon.

Facing the team that snapped their five-game win streak to begin last season, the Blue Waves opened the 2012 season with an emphatic shutout road victory, quickly putting the rest of the division on notice.

The Blue Waves were for real.

It wasn’t a perfect ride through the regular season for Riverhead. The Blue Waves hit two bumps along the way, falling at West Islip and East Islip, ultimately finishing the regular season at 6-2 and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

But the losses helped prepare the Blue Waves for their playoff run, which was pushed back a week following the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. When the Blue Waves finally returned to the field, they did so in full stride, running away with a 36-13 victory over Walt Whitman.

In the semifinals the Blue Waves faced West Babylon and found themselves in a much closer game than in the season opener. The Blue Waves led by a touchdown at halftime before a 75-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Ryan Bitzer to Quinn Funn expanded the lead to 14. The Blue Waves added nine more points in the fourth to win 30-14.

The next stop was Stony Brook University and the Division II county championship against North Babylon. Behind a potent offensive attack, the Blue Waves scored a season-high 52 points to throttle the Bulldogs and win their first county crown since 2008. Funn scored three touchdowns through the air and added another on defense.

Through the first half of the Long Island championship against Garden City, the Blue Waves appeared on the verge of ending their season with the ultimate victory. But the Trojans, and superb quarterback Brett Stewart, rallied in the second half to take the game and the LIC.


11/18/12 12:00pm
11/18/2012 12:00 PM

Riverhead football is headed back to the Suffolk County Division II Championship Game following  its 30-14 over West Babylon Saturday.

Here are 10 more photos taken by News-Review contributing photographer Robert O’Rourk at Saturday’s game.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead defensive back Mike Von Bummel (27) and a teammate combine on a tackle in Saturday’s 30-14 win over West Babylon.

Riverhead quarterback Ryan Bitzer completed 12 passes for over 200 yards and a touchdown Saturday.

Bitzer also ran for a 4-yard touchdown in the Blue Waves’ victory.

Daniel Czelatka had a 28-yard catch in the second quarter against West Babylon.

Running back Jeremiah Cheatom has now scored four touchdowns in two playoff games this season. A workhorse, he carried the ball 33 times Saturday.

Cheatom amassed 135 yards in the Riverhead win.

Riverhead linebacker Nick Ross excited the crowd with several big hits Saturday.

Ross came close to  recording a safety here. His teammate, Matt Hejmej dod just that though on the next play.

Riverhead receiver Andrew Harkin recorded three catches for 47 yards Saturday.

Wide receiver Quinn Funn led all players with 104 receiving yards and a touchdown.

11/17/12 4:50pm
11/17/2012 4:50 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead quarterback Ryan Bitzer ran for a touchdown and threw for one more in Saturday’s semifinal win over West Babylon.

It’s been four years since a Riverhead football team could call itself a champion.

That might be about to change.

The Blue Waves, 30-14 winners at home Saturday over West Babylon, are headed back to Stony Brook. They’ll face North Babylon at noon next Sunday, Nov. 25, in the Suffolk County Division II Championship Game.

“Words can’t explain it,” said Riverhead wide receiver Quinn Funn, who caught a pivotal 74-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Bitzer on his team’s first possession of the second half. “Since ninth grade, I’ve been thinking about playing at Stony Brook my senior year. We did it. Now we need to keep winning.”

Blue Waves head coach Leif Shay called Funn’s touchdown a “watershed play.”

Before then the Waves (8-2) had held much of the momentum in the game, but they still went into halftime with just a 14-7 lead. Then the Eagles (5-5) came out of the locker room stopping two straight running plays. On third-and-14, Bitzer finally  let it fly.

“Quinn is one of the toughest receivers on Long Island,”the quarterback said. “It wasn’t the best ball I’ve ever thrown, but I knew he’d come down with.”

He was right.

“It was a little wobbly,” said Funn, who played the game with a head cold but still caught four passes for 104 yards and the score. “I said, ‘I’m gonna go get it.'”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTOS | Riverhead wide receiver Quinn Funn hauls in a 74-yard touchdown catch off a pass from quarterback Ryan Bitzer. The score gave the Waves a 21-7 lead over West Babylon with 10:47 left in the third quarter.

The touchdown was Funn’s 12th of the year.

It was also the 17th passing touchdown off the right arm of Bitzer, a three-year varsity starter at quarterback, who was 12-of-17 passing for 202 yards and one touchdown Saturday. The Riverhead signal-caller was the first player to score in Saturday’s game, giving Riverhead a 7-0 lead with a 4-yard run in the first quarter.

Junior running back Jeremiah Cheatom, who rushed for 135 yards on 33 carries and scored twice Saturday afternoon, gave the Waves a 14-0 advantage in the second quarter. It was the eighth consecutive touchdown Riverhead had scored against West Babylon this season, after beating the Eagles 42-0 to open up the season at home Sept.8

This time, though, West Babylon answered back. Quarterback Clifton Melhado,  a senior who finished the season with 12 rushing touchdowns, scored on a 5-yard run midway through the second quarter to cut the deficit in half.

If Funn’s touchdown shifted the game’s momentum completely in Riverhead’s favor, it was a safety by linebacker Matt Hejmej that put the contest out of reach.

Facing a second and long from its own 2-yard line, West Babylon stuck with its spread offense and Hejmej was ready for the option.

“I saw it coming the whole way,” he said. “I knew he was going to pitch it.” The safety gave Riverhead a 23-7 lead and brought Stony Brook within sight.

“It’s definitely a great feeling to be going to Stony Brook,” Bitzer said. “That was our goal coming in. To get to Stony Brook and beyond.”

Jefferey Pittman recorded an interception for Riverhead and teammate Eric Hulse recovered a fumble.

Tailback Chris Lubin scored West Babylon’s second touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead running back Jeremiah Cheatom scored two touchdowns Saturday to bring his season total to 15.

Coach Lief Shay said his team’s losses to West Islip and East Islip toward the middle of the season have made the players stronger as the season progressed. As it turns out, they will not have to face either of those teams in the playoffs. West Islip became the first Long Island No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 8 seed when it fell to West Babylon, 20-19, last week. East Islip also lost at home, falling to North Babylon (7-3) Saturday.

The Blue Waves beat North Babylon 42-28 on Sept. 22.

It’s the third time Riverhead has made it to Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium since Coach Shay took over the program. The Waves won a county title there in 2003 and  county and Long Island championships in 2008.

“”We’re undefeated there,” said a smiling Coach Shay, who served as an offensive line coach for Stony Brook University in 1994. “It’s like going home in a way for me.”

[email protected]

11/11/12 12:00pm
11/11/2012 12:00 PM

The Riverhead football team is headed to the Suffolk County Division II semifinals next week. They earned it with a 36-13 win Saturday over Walt Whitman High.

Here’s 10 shots from the game, taken by photographer Robert O’Rourk:

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTOS | Jeremiah Cheatom on one of his 22 carries in Riverhead’s 36-13 win over Walt Whitman Saturday. He finished the game with 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Cheatom had his big breakout game against Whitman last year when former Riverhead running back Charles Bartlett suffered a leg injury. He said of that game: “I had to shine.”

Riverhead quarterback Ryan Bitzer threw two touchdown passes Saturday, finishing 11 of 15 for 150 yards. He also ran for a score and picked up 38 rushing yards.

Riverhead tight end Vincent Brodeur scored the first touchdown Saturday on his only catch of the game. It was from four yards out and capped a 10 play, 42-yard drive that lasted nearly four minutes.

Riverhead tight end Vincent Brodeur scored the first touchdown Saturday on his only catch of the game. It was from four yards out and capped a 10 play, 42-yard drive that lasted nearly four minutes.

Receiver Jeffrey Pittman caught three passes for 18 yards Saturday.

Riverhead’s Ryan Harkin made a big hit on this Whitman runner. The starting Riverhead defense held the Wildcats to 173 yards in 2 1/2 quarters.

Quinn Funn was Riverhead’s leading receiver Saturday with 51 yards gained on two catches. His first catch of the day was a 13-yard touchdown.

In two games against Whitman this season the Riverhead defense gave up just three touchdowns. In both games they gave up a first quarter score and then settled down.

Bitzer runs for the final score of the 36-13 win.