Defense shines as Waves beat Smithtown West

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Mike Van Bommel had one of three Blue Waves interceptions Saturday against Smithtown West.


In many ways, the Riverhead Blue Waves see a bit of themselves in the Smithtown West Bulls. Both teams have a dynamic running back who runs behind a zone blocking scheme.

To prepare for Smithtown’s offense, all the Blue Waves had to do was line up in practice against their offense.

Facing a team Saturday that was averaging 46.5 points per game, the Blue Waves’ defense delivered an epic performance, blanking the Bulls over 48 minutes while forcing three turnovers. Riverhead bottled up Smithtown running back Logan Greco and caused fits for quarterback Matt Heldberg when he dropped back to pass.

It all added up to a 21-0 victory for the Blue Waves, who handed the Bulls their first loss of the season on homecoming night at Smithtown West High School in front of a packed house. Smithtown (4-1) was the last unbeaten team to fall in Division II.

“We told our scout team, they did a better job all week than Smithtown West did,” said Riverhead coach Leif Shay.

Smithtown West (4-1) never so much as reached the red zone against Riverhead. The Bulls closest scoring opportunity came at the end of the second quarter when John Pavacic came up short on a 47-yard field goal attempt.

Andrew Kinard, Mike Van Bommel and Ryan Hubbard all had interceptions for Riverhead. Steven Reid nearly had another, but couldn’t hang on to a pass that would have been an easy pick-six.

Senior Jaron Greenidge played a huge game on both sides of the ball for Riverhead. He caught two touchdown passes, the first on a 23-yard pass from quarterback Cody Smith. Greenidge made a terrific catch in the end zone, reaching in front of defensive back Christian Zawadzki, who had the position in front of Greenidge.

With under a minute left in the second quarter, Greenidge caught a 4-yard pass from Smith at the right pylon to put Riverhead ahead 14-0 at halftime.

The score remained that way until late in the fourth quarter when Jeremiah Cheatom ran in a 10-yard touchdown on the first play after an interception.

It’s been a dramatic turnaround for Riverhead’s defense after giving up 50 points to East Islip in Week 2, the only loss so far. Since then, the Blue Waves have given up just over 8 points per game.

The Blue Waves did it Saturday without senior Dan Czelatka, who was injured in the first quarter on defense. Czelatka appeared to land on his left elbow after leaping try to pick off a pass and suffered a dislocation, Shay said. He left the game in an ambulance.

Without Czelatka, a starter on both sides, the Blue Waves picked up the slack. Hubbard played a bigger role on both sides and caught a 22-yard pass. Daren Jefferson made an outstanding catch on a 35-yard pass play that helped set up Riverhead’s second touchdown.

Smith finished the game 11 of 13 passing for 173 yards. Cheatom carried the team on the ground with 138 hard-earned yards on 34 carries. Greenidge caught 5 passes for 87 yards.

Riverhead returns home next week for homecoming against Walt Whitman.

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