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Football: Riverhead’s playoff hopes are doused

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The forecast wasn’t good — for the weather or the Riverhead High School football team’s playoff prospects.

Still, remarkably enough, Riverhead entered Saturday’s game with a chance to get into the playoffs. Yes, the same Blue Waves who stood in 11th place in Suffolk County Division II with only one win to their name.

Ah, there is nothing like Suffolk’s quirky power-rating system upon which the standings are based. Wins and losses alone aren’t everything.

Riverhead needed to win Saturday against third-place Half Hollow Hills West and at Centereach next Saturday in order to make that long shot possible. The odds weren’t in its favor.

Well, now it’s official. Riverhead (1-6) is out of playoff contention.

Hills West sophomore Deyvon Wright ran for three touchdowns and 204 yards as the Colts pulled away to a 26-6 win on Senior Day at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead.

Riverhead’s defense hung tough in the first half, limiting Hills West (5-2) to a 7-0 lead. But Hills West gained more separation in the third quarter, stretching its lead to 20-0 on a touchdown run that Wright banged in from five yards and a dazzling 37-yard punt return for a touchdown by Thomas Anatra. Anatra looked liked he was virtually stopped after catching Robbie Block’s punt, but he spun out of one tackler’s grasp, turned to his right and avoided another Riverheader before slipping away down the left sideline in an amazing escape act.

Those two scores occurred within 1 minute, 23 seconds of each other.

The slimmest of Riverhead hopes were rekindled when Kyle Kelly fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Chandler with 7:09 left in the game.

Wright, however, sealed the result with his third TD of the day. In the Wildcat formation, Wright took the shotgun snap and took off straight up the middle from 28 yards for the score with 2:51 to go.

With both Hills West and Riverhead contending with heavy rain and strong winds, the first half was a defensive struggle. But it was the Hills West defense that set up the first touchdown. An interception by Jeff Terry gave Hills West the ball on its own 40-yard line. On the next play, Wright took a pitch from Gerald Filardi and cut to his right where he found free space all the way to the end zone for the 60-yard score.

Riverhead was without several players because of injuries, including running back Albert Daniels, who is out with a season-ending concussion. That meant the bulk of the ball-carrying went to Lawrence Bishop. The sophomore responded with 105 yards from 29 carries.

Fifteen Riverhead seniors marched out for the Senior Day ceremony before the final home game of their careers. They were hoping for something better, but the odds were against them, not to mention one of the best teams in the division.

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Photo caption: Riverhead players and their parents march off the field following the pregame Senior Day ceremony. (Credit: Bob Liepa)