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.”

gparpan@timesreview.com

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.