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09/10/16 6:29pm
09/10/2016 6:29 PM

Riverhead football player Chris DeBose 091016

First it was the Bulldogs and then the Lions that took nice-sized bites out of the Riverhead High School football team. Now the Blue Waves must feel a sense of relief, with a bye week to look forward to and the roughest part of their schedule in the books.

Jake Guercio passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and Drew Cestaro picked up 104 rushing yards, including a 23-yard touchdown, as the West Islip Lions rolled over Riverhead, 41-0, at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field on a steamy Saturday afternoon.

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04/20/16 6:59pm
04/20/2016 6:59 PM

Riverhead softball player Kim Ligon 042016

Bye, bye playoffs.

The Riverhead High School softball team will not return to the postseason this year. Thanks to the busy bats of West Islip’s offense and the strong right arm of its standout pitcher, Rachel Wandzilak, Riverhead was eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday. A 15-2 defeat to West Islip in a five-inning game shortened by the mercy rule did the trick.

09/13/14 6:44pm
09/13/2014 6:44 PM
Riverhead's Raheem Brown evading West Islip's Joe Rushton during Saturday's season-opening game. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Riverhead’s Raheem Brown evading West Islip’s Joe Rushton during Saturday’s season-opening game. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)


An overcast, gray day got uglier in the second half when rain began to fall, lightly at first, and then with growing intensity, making for slick conditions and a slippery football. That was fitting enough because Riverhead was turning in a performance that was at once disturbing and ugly. But what the Blue Waves lacked in points for artistry, they made up for in drama and excitement.

The Blue Waves, defending Suffolk County Division II champions, dodged a bullet in their season opener on Saturday, narrowly averting an upset loss to West Islip in the final seconds. Steven Reid III pulled in an 18-yard touchdown reception with 15.1 seconds left to play, allowing the Blue Waves to escape with a 28-25 result in their favor at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead.

Call it Riverhead magic. (more…)

01/14/14 10:29pm
01/14/2014 10:29 PM


The Riverhead High School boys basketball team certainly lived dangerously on Tuesday night.

Every time the Blue Waves grabbed a 10-point lead, West Islip would come charging back to make it close and interesting.

But when push came to shove in the fourth quarter, they withstood a late comeback attempt by the Lions and recorded a 58-51 win in Suffolk County League III action in West Islip.

“We got that 10-point lead, it came down to six, 10, six. We couldn’t get it to 15,” coach John Rossetti said. “To their credit, they knocked down a couple of three-pointers in a row to cut it tight. You know what? We finished them off when we had to.”

Coupled with a 64-30 victory over Centereach last Thursday, the Blue Waves (3-8, 2-5) won back-to-back games for the first time this season as West Islip fell to 1-10, 1-6.

“You now what? We’ll take it,” Rossetti said. “It’s another win, another notch in our belt. It wasn’t our best effort over all, but we’re finding a way to win and that’s an improvement from earlier in the year.

“Give the kids credit. They’ve never been down on themselves. They’re continuing to work. They’re going to continue to push. It’s nice getting the two wins, don’t get me wrong, but this team knows there’s more in them.”

Especially for a young team. The Blue Waves started and finished with three sophomores.

“It’s not about sophomores, it’s about team,” Rossetti said. “There’s a lot of kids who came off the bench who gave us good, quality minutes. That’s what a team’s about.”

Still, the sophomores did make a contribution. Guard/forward Charles Manning led the way with 12 points, adding 7 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. Forward Tyrese Kerr added 7 points and 6 rebounds. Lintell Brown came off the bench to score 9 points.

“He’s fearless,” Rossetti said of Manning. “He’s a tough ball player and he’s long. He’s deceptive.”

When he was asked about his favorite part of the game, Manning replied, “Defense, because defense wins games and often sells tickets.”

Rather than just talk about it, the 6-foot Manning demonstrated it by blocking 6-foot-5 center Bill Hellem’s shot with 1 minute 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter to preserve a 41-31 lead.

“He got up there, one that he took off the rim basically and he got another key one when they were on a two-on-one fast break and he came in and erased another shot,” Rossetti said. “That takes four points off the board. In a close ball game like that, you don’t recognize it early, but you look at it late. They were crucial plays.”

The Blue Waves led for virtually the entire game. They enjoyed a 13-3 advantage early in the second quarter before West Islip whittled it to 15-12 with 2:24 remaining. But the Blue Waves ran off an 9-0 spurt and a 14-4 tear to go into the locker room with a 29-16 lead. Brown had 5 points during that surge, which saw five Riverhead players score.

In the third quarter, West Islip came within 33-29 with 5:10 left before the Blue Waves rattled off 8 straight points — 5 on Deon Shorter’s five free throws en route to his 10-point game.

In the fourth period, the Lions made the visitors sweat a bit again, moving within 49-43 with 4:16 remaining, but the Blue Waves managed to score a couple of key baskets and sink a few foul shots down the stretch, including two by Manning to seal the game with 20 seconds remaining.

“It was pretty frustrating,” senior forward Brandon Tolliver said about Riverhead’s inability to pull away. “But we knew what we had to do defensively to try to help us hold the lead.”

Riverhead had another encouraging performance from Tolliver, who had been slowed down in his recovery from a knee injury with a knock on his left knee. He contributed 10 points, 9 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.

“I’m coming back slowly, but surely,” he said. “I feel better, feel great actually. I’m grabbing more rebounds and I feel that I’m being more active that what I was before the knock-up with my knee.”

10/26/13 8:14pm
10/26/2013 8:14 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead's Rahemm Brown, left, and Ryan Harkin wrap up West Islip's Max McNichols for a loss.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead’s Raheem Brown, left, and Ryan Harkin wrap up West Islip’s Max McNichols for a loss.


Senior running back Jeremiah Cheatom ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns to spark Riverhead to a 33-21 victory over West Islip in a Suffolk County Division II football game at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon.

The win solidified the Blue Waves’ prospects of hosting at least one game in the upcoming playoffs, which are to begin on the weekend of Nov. 9.

The first half was a see-saw battle.

Riverhead (6-1) grabbed a 7-0 lead on Darren Jefferson’s 30-yard touchdown reception and Dylan Pace’s’ point after with 3 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter, but West Islip (5-2) tied it on quarterback Sam Iliaro’s one-yard run and Liam O’Donnell’s ensuing PAT 29 seconds into the second period.

The Blue Waves retook the lead on Cheatom’s 48-yard scoring run on the next possession with 9:47 remaining in the half, but could only extend the margin to 13-7 as Pace failed to convert the extra point.

Iliaro’s 20-yard TD run and O’Donnell’s point after boosted the visitors into a 14-13 halftime lead.

Senior quarterback Cody Smith’s three-yard run and sophomore running back Ryun Moore’s successful two-point run lifted the Blue Waves into a 21-14 advantage they would not relinquish with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

Cheatom, who carried the ball 36 times, including on 23 occasions in the second half, sandwiched a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs around a West Islip score. He ran in from 12 yards with 10:15 remaining and from five yards with 4:09 left.

Iliaro had a one-yard run for West Islip with 7:03 to go in the game. The Blue Waves finish their regular season next week at Newfield, 22-8 winners over Central Islip on Saturday.

09/15/12 8:04pm
09/15/2012 8:04 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead wide receiver Quinn Funn hauls in one of his nine catches Saturday against West Islip.


In a flash, a game that seemed destined for overtime came down to one kick.

The Riverhead Blue Waves, after dodging a bullet on a near 99-yard drive from West Islip, held the ball at their own 40-yard line on fourth down and less than a minute to play Saturday afternoon at West Islip High School.

Senior Nick Ross, who had pinned the Lions on their own 1 on his previous punt, lined up in the backfield. All afternoon Ross, whose main duty is middle linebacker, had ample time to catch the ball, take a second and punt.

But this time the Lions came in a hurry. West Islip senior James Murray lined up on the right side and surged across the line and straight toward Ross. He batted the ball as Ross attempted to kick it, sending it soaring directly up into the air and bouncing back onto the field and eventually out of bounds.

Three plays later, West Islip kicker Zach Hageman lined up for the first field goal in his varsity career, a 36-yarder to potentially win the game.

The 5-10 junior calmly drilled the ball between the uprights, lifting West Islip to a 16-13 victory and handing Riverhead its first Division II loss of the season.

“It was like slow motion as it went through the upright,” said West Islip coach Steve Mileti.

The Blue Waves (1-1) had one last chance on the ensuing kickoff, but only 4 seconds remained and the clock ran out as Jeremiah Cheatom tried to go the distance.

Special teams proved to be the difference in a game Riverhead dominated for much of the first half until turnovers started to pile up.

Riverhead coughed the ball up twice on punt returns and quarterback Ryan Bitzer was picked off twice.

“We hurt ourselves in this game,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay. “Penalties, turnovers, things like that are going to kill you against West Islip.”

The first two Riverhead turnovers led directly to 13 West Islip points, which came in the final three and a half minutes of the second quarter.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | West Islip halfback Dan Johnson provided most of the offense for the Lions by carrying the ball 25 times.

The Lions (2-0) took a 13-6 lead into halftime before the Blue Waves got back on track in the third quarter. After Bitzer threw 24 passes in the first half, the Blue Waves opened the second half by relying on the legs of Cheatom.

“We felt we had an advantage,” Shay said. “They were tiring out and we were able to pound the ball on them a little bit. Those are things will look at on the film and get better at.”

Cheatom carried the ball 26 times for 145 yards.

Riverhead tied the game with 4:52 left in the third quarter when Bitzer threw a quick pass on fourth-and-2 to Quinn Funn on the left side. Funn raced up the left sideline for a 27-yard touchdown.

Funn had a big day with nine catches for 120 yards. Bitzer had to rely more on Funn after Jeff Pittmann went down early in the first quarter with an ankle injury. Pittmann, who starts on both ends of the field, did not return.

“I think he’ll be fine, but he just couldn’t go today,” Shay said.

Losing Pittmann hurt on special teams as well as he was unavailable to return punts.

Riverhead quickly got the ball back after tying the game and appeared on the verge of retaking the lead. But on second-and-7 from the Lions’ 34-yard line, Bitzer (18-33, 191 yards) threw over the middle to tight end Vincent Brodeur and had the ball deflect off his hands. The ball floated in the air for Joe Barcia to intercept.

After a Riverhead drive stalled near midfield midway through the fourth quarter, the Blue Waves punted and pinned West Islip on the 1-yard line. But behind the running of Dan Johnson (157 yards on 25 carries) the Lions marched deep into Riverhead territory.

The Lions momentarily appeared to capitalize on a 37-yard pass play for a touchdown to complete the 99-yard drive, but an ineligible receiver penalty negated the score. The Blue Waves’ defense buckled down and forced the Lions’ backward.

West Islip went for it on fourth-and-20 from the 30 but couldn’t convert.

The Lions only had 24 seconds to work with after getting the ball back following the blocked punt. They ran the ball twice, using their final two timeouts, to set up the field goal attempt.

“Credit to our kicker,” Mileti said. “To be put in a situation like that in your first varsity kick to win a game against a team like Riverhead, that’s football. What a life experience and memory for that kid.”

West Islip had its own injury problems to deal with when quarterback Sam Ilario had to leave the game after a head injury. Mileti said afterward he didn’t think it was as serious as a concussion.

AJ Ilchert slid over to quarterback to carry the Lions home.

Riverhead, kicking into the wind, missed two long field goals in the first half. The second came at the end of a 17-play drive that ate up a good chunk of the first quarter. Devrim Kuckuk tried a 38-yard field goal that missed. He missed on his first attempt from 43 yards.

“There’s a lot of good football teams in this division,” Shay said. “West Islip, give them credit. They executed well.”

Junior Jaron Greenidge caught five passes for Riverhead. Bitzer scored the first Riverhead touchdown with an 18-yard run.

Riverhead travels to North Babylon at 2 p.m. next Saturday.

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