12/18/14 8:57pm
12/18/2014 8:57 PM
Riverhead guard Sharron Trent goes up for a basket against Hills West Thursday. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Riverhead guard Sharron Trent goes up for a basket against Hills West Thursday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

COLTS 63, BLUE WAVES 46

Riverhead junior Ryun Moore dribbled into the paint, spun around a Half Hollow Hills West defender and lofted the ball up with one hand off the glass and through the net. It was a slick move, but one that came with an unfortunate side-note.

At 3:35 remaining in the second quarter, it was the Blue Waves’ first field goal.  (more…)

11/07/14 5:00pm
11/07/2014 5:00 PM
Riverhead's Raheem Brown rushes up the middle for a first down. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Riverhead’s Raheem Brown rushes up the middle for a first down in last week’s win over Bellport. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Riverhead coach Leif Shay didn’t need to watch hours of film to get a handle on Deer Park’s offensive approach.

“They run Thompson and then they run Thompson and then after that they’ll run Thompson,” Shay said before practice Friday.  (more…)

10/01/14 9:00pm
10/01/2014 9:00 PM
Riverhead junior William Mitchell eludes a final tackler on an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Wednesday against Hills West. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Riverhead junior William Mitchell eludes a final tackler on an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Wednesday against Hills West. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

COLTS 42, BLUE WAVES 28

Ray Lyte made his varsity debut on the Half Hollow Hills West football team as a freshman three years ago as a call-up during the playoffs. Hoping to make an impact as a sophomore, his season was wiped out by a broken wrist. Then last year, as a junior, injuries again kept him in and out of the lineup.

“Last year I was the ‘injur-bug,’ ” Lyte said.

Now healthy for his senior season, Lyte has become a key player for the Colts, although his role on offense has been mostly limited. Through three games and the first half of Wednesday’s game against Riverhead, Lyte hadn’t gotten more than four carries in a game.

That trend continued for the first half against the Blue Waves in Dix Hills on a rare mid-week game. After the Colts saw a 14-0 lead turn into a 21-14 hole, their offense switched gears. Lyte, a speedster who can attack the outside, became the focal point in an offense that exploded for four second-half touchdowns.

Lyte scored twice, helping the Colts to a 42-28 Division II victory while handing the Blue Waves their first loss of the season. Lyte continually burned the Blue Waves (3-1) on runs to the outside and he tallied 89 yards in the second half on 10 carries. His 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter broke a 28-28 tie and put the Colts ahead for good.

“I had a lot of rest in the first half,” Lyte said. “I was just playing defense. So I was more energized coming out.”

Lyte’s running, combined with the arm of quarterback Anthony Lucarelli, overwhelmed the Riverhead defense in the second half. Lucarelli picked apart the Blue Waves’ secondary, completing 8 of 10 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns.

“They scouted us well,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay. “They knew we had a weakness on the perimeter. We weren’t able to set the edge. They were able to get the edge and they kept going to it.”

After trailing 14-0 in the first half, the Blue Waves bounced back to tie the game at the half with a pair of rushing touchdowns from Ryun Moore.

Riverhead appeared to be taking control of the game at the start of the third quarter. The Blue Waves forced a three-and-out on the Colts’ first possession, powered by a pair of sacks. Riverhead got the ball back and Moore ripped off two big runs to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by William Mitchell that gave Riverhead a 21-14 lead.

But it was all Hills West the rest of the way. The Colts (4-0) outscored Riverhead 28-7 over the remainder of the game. Riverhead’s lone score during that stretch came on an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Mitchell that tied the game at 28. The Colts answered that score with a nine-play drive — their longest of the game — to retake the lead, 35-28.

The Blue Waves relied heavily on the running game until the score tipped against their favor in the fourth. Moore finished with 135 yards on 21 carries. Mitchell added 32 yards on 10 carries.

Lyte walked away from the game impressed with what he saw from Moore.

“Ryun Moore is probably one of the best backs I’ve ever seen in this division,” he said.

The Blue Waves have overcome regular season losses in each of the past two seasons that ended with a county championship. In Week 2 last year, the Blue Waves lost 50-36 at East Islip before beating the Redmen in the county championship. Two years ago, the Blue Waves lost twice in the regular season.

“It’s a black-and-blue division,” Shay said. “Whoever limps out of it is going to play for a Long Island Championship.”

joew@timesreview.com

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