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.

11/10/12 5:13pm
11/10/2012 5:13 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead wide receiver Quinn Funn catches a 38-yard pass in the team’s 36-13 playoff win over Walt Whitman High School Saturday.

BLUE WAVES 36, WILDCATS 13

Superstorm Sandy might have knocked their power out and left their families unable to heat their homes. It might have also turned their school into a shelter, forcing a couple practices to be canceled and the playoff opener to be delayed.

But there’s one thing Sandy and her wicked wind gusts couldn’t keep the Riverhead football team from doing when it finally took the field again Saturday: It couldn’t stop them from winning.

The Waves, who entered the playoffs on a three-game win streak but hadn’t played since Oct. 27 due to the storm, scored three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes en route to a 36-13 Division II playoff win over Walt Whitman Saturday.

“You always worry whenever you’re forced to break from routine and your team can’t practice as normal,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay. “But these kids prepared well. They took it all in stride and went out and played some good football today.”

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE GAME

CLICK FOR A PLAY-BY-PLAY RECAP OF THE WIN

It didn’t take long for things to return to normal on the football field at Riverhead High.

After a quick three-and-out for Whitman (4-5) on the game’s first series, the No. 2-ranked Waves (7-2) took advantage of good field position on their first possession, moving the football 42 yards on 10 plays before scoring the game’s first touchdown. Tight end Vincent Brodeur caught the 4-yard scoring pass from quarterback Ryan Bitzer, who then converted a two-point conversion run for an 8-0 Riverhead lead midway through the first quarter.

It was a sign of things to come for Bitzer, a three-year starter, and his Blue Waves teammates.

The quarterback, who Coach Shay said has really taken his game to the next level as this season has progressed, seemed to have an answer for everything the Wildcat defense threw at him. He used the run, mostly from tailback Jeremiah Cheatom, to set up his passing game. And when receivers weren’t open, he used his legs to pick up the first down.

Bitzer would finish the game with 150 passing yards and two touchdowns, while scrambling for 38 more yards and his team’s final score.

After Whitman answered Riverhead’s first touchdown with one of its own, Bitzer found wide receiver Quinn Funn open for a 13-yard scoring strike and a 15-6 lead with 9.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Cheatom then put the game away with a pair of second quarter touchdown runs, the first from 5 yards out and the second on a 3-yard run.

“We lost two days of practice, but we worked really hard on the days we did have it,” said Cheatom, who finished the game with 159 yards and the two touchdowns on 22 carries and one catch. “The coaches did a great job of having us prepared.”

Cheatom pointed out that not only did the team have to contend with the storm’s aftermath, but also with the challenge of having to play the same team two games in a row. The Blue Waves defeated Whitman 42-8 in the regular season finale.

Whitman quarterback Mitchell Bermudez threw one touchdown pass and ran for another in the loss.

Riverhead will now host West Babylon (5-4) in the semifinals next Saturday after the Eagles shocked previously unbeaten and top-seeded West Islip,  20-19. Teams are re-seeded after the first round, so the Blue Waves are now the No. 1 seed, playing the No. 4 seed in West Babylon. The Blue Waves opened the season with a 42-0 victory over the Eagles.

Bitzer said he expects he and his teammates to be ready to go when the game kicks off at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

“We need to watch film and fix our mistakes,” he said. “If we can work out what we did wrong, it will all work out for us.”

The winner of next week’s game advances to the Suffolk County Division II Championship at Stony Brook University. That game has been moved to noon on Sunday, Nov. 25.

gparpan@timesreview.com

11/04/11 4:50pm
11/04/2011 4:50 PM
Blue Waves car crash Riverhead football

JOSEPH TUMMINELLO PHOTO | Football gathers near the Route 58 accident scene.

A man suffered an arm injury Friday when he was struck by a car driven by Riverhead High School football players as he tried to cross Route 58, police and the players said.

The man was crossing the busy Riverhead thoroughfare near the Peconic Bay Diner when he was hit about 4:30 p.m., police said.

His injuries were not described as serious.

About a dozen football players, many still in their Blue Waves jerseys, were following one another in their cars after leaving practice when the accident happened, the players said.

All of them pulled over and waited for the ambulance to arrive, they said, with one player adding the team “sticks together” no matter what.

The victim was loaded into an ambulance on a gurney, with his arm slung up in the air.

Police at the scene did not suspect any wrongdoing.

tgannon@timesreview.com

10/23/11 5:50pm
10/23/2011 5:50 PM

Though it seems as though he’s been doing it forever, even Pat Kelly, Voice of Riverhead Football, has an origin story.

And when a guy like Kelly speaks — the same guy who’s spent 24 years weaving stories out of downs and distances for 1390-WRIV radio — it’s probably best to let the quotation marks do the talking.

Read the complete story on Newsday.com

10/07/11 12:17pm
10/07/2011 12:17 PM

The Riverhead football team came from behind Thursday to defeat Whitman 34-27 on the road.

The Waves are now 5-0 on the season. They’ll travel to fellow unbeaten West Babylon next Friday night.

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Blue Waves, Quinn Funn, Walt Whitman

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead receiver Quinn Funn makes one of his great catches from Thursday's 34-27 win over Whitman.