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Football Notebook: Bye couldn’t come at better time for Waves

Riverhead football player Jason Davis 091216

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. The timing of the bye couldn’t be better for the Blue Waves.

“We’re going to try our best, focus in practice, go on a good win streak,” Riverhead running back/linebacker Robbie Block said. “We’re going to believe in ourselves.”

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 Saturday.

No. 2 seed West Islip (2-0 in Suffolk County Division II) has yet to give up a point this season, outscoring the two teams it has played (Deer Park was the first), 93-0.

No. 8 Riverhead (0-2), meanwhile, was licking its wounds from a 43-0 hammering by the North Babylon Bulldogs.

Riverhead’s pride might have taken a blow, too, as its offense struggled once again, managing only 69 yards of offense to West Islip’s 320. Through two games, Riverhead has 99 yards to its credit and its defense has allowed 793.

It took only three plays from scrimmage for West Islip to open the game with a six-yard touchdown reception by Antonio Alicea. It was 34-0 before the first half was over, thanks to a 22-yard touchdown run by Guercio, a 23-yard touchdown burst by Cestaro, a 28-yard interception return for a score by Rob Skibinsky and a 22-yard touchdown catch by Dylan Carrino.

Joey Rota added a touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Oh, the pain of it all

Riverhead wide receiver/defensive back Tommy Powers (broken arm) and running back/linebacker William Sanders (broken hand) are both out for the season following their injuries in the North Babylon game. Neither linemen John Anderson (dislocated elbow) or Joe Stimpfel (ankle) have yet to play, and lineman Jayson Brewer is sidelined with a concussion, said coach Leif Shay. Quarterback Kyle Kelly has a twisted ankle. He didn’t practice during the week but played some Saturday before Jason Davis took over for most of the game.

On the plus side, Ben Mearkle, a junior middle linebacker who missed the season opener to attend a wedding, made seven tackles Saturday. “It’s his first time ever on the field,” said Shay.

An enhanced role for Sheehan

Chris Sheehan often found himself stuck behind another player on the depth chart last season for undefeated Shoreham-Wading River. After a dedicated offseason, he came into this year finally primed for a larger role as a senior.

“We spoke to him in the offseason that he was going to be a two-way player for us this year and probably wasn’t going to come off the field,” Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser said. “He bought into that and really worked out hard.”

In Friday’s season opener against Center Moriches, Sheehan turned heads with not one, but two kick returns for touchdowns, showing how his role will be pivotal on special teams as well. He dodged a bevy of defenders for his first score of over 50 yards on a punt return to put the Wildcats ahead, 20-0, early in the first quarter. He scored again early in the third quarter after the Red Devils were forced to kick following a safety.

“It was awesome,” Sheehan said. “I had some great blocks and I just found a hole and got there.”

In a playoff win over Bishop McGann-Mercy last season, Sheehan scored on a 95-yard kickoff return, providing a glimpse of what the Wildcats could expect this year.

Sheehan nearly broke another punt return for a touchdown against the Red Devils before being brought down at the Center Moriches 22-yard line just over a minute after his first touchdown. The big return set up a 16-yard touchdown by junior Kyle Boden.

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Photo caption: Riverhead quarterback Jason Davis picks up a first down as he is driven out of bounds by West Islip’s Drew Cestaro. (Credit: Grant Parpan)