The 2019 season began with uncertainty around the Riverhead football team. The Blue Waves had bumped up to Division I for the first time and were seeded last among the 12 teams. The Blue Waves were about to face a bunch of new opponents.
What the Blue Waves knew for sure is that they had a chance to be a strong running team with senior Albert Daniels in the backfield. As a junior, he was an All-Division player, and the Blue Waves were going to rely heavily on him to carry the offense.
Daniels was more than ready for the challenge.
A superb season from Daniels that drew memories of Miguel Maysonet more than a decade earlier was the key reason for the Blue Waves’ return to the postseason. Daniels routinely carried the ball 30-plus times, finding the holes behind an offensive line that quickly jelled into a formidable unit. He ran with power, elusiveness and toughness, finishing among the top rushers in the county for rushing yards. He totaled 1,550 yards on the ground, according to Newsday stats, and scored 21 touchdowns.
Daniels made a quick impact when he scored four touchdowns and rushed for 237 yards in the team’s season opener against Central Islip. The Blue Waves won easily, 39-14, and put the rest of the division on notice that they would not be pushovers this year.
By early November, Daniels and his teammates were ringing the victory bell outside Pulaski Street School on their way to the playoffs. The Wildcats celebrated homecoming with a 37-14 victory over Walt Whitman as Daniels scored four touchdowns and rushed for 194 yards.
While the season came to an end the next week on a frigid night at Longwood, Daniels’ season won’t soon be forgotten.
For his effort in 2019, Daniels earned All-County and All-Division honors.
Photo caption: Albert Daniels celebrates a touchdown. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister/file)