No. 3 Sports Story of 2012: Riverhead football wins county title

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.