Things were going very well for the Riverhead Blue Waves back in October. After getting upended by East Islip their record stood at a very pedestrian 3-2 – on the borderline for a playoff berth. And then the team took off.
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Sunday the locals scored their sixth straight win, and it was a big win — the Suffolk County Division II title was on the line. The Waves pummeled North Babylon 52-20 at Stony Brook University to earn a berth in the Long Island Championship Game this Saturday.
Riverhead's potent, two-pronged offense is the mighty beast that feeds the team. During the winning streak tailback Jeremiah Cheatom anchored the ground game for Leif Shay's charges – a powerful runner with breakaway speed, Cheatom proved he could take over a game unless defenses focused on him. And therein is the conundrum Riverhead's opponents faced – concentrate on the run, and the Blue Waves unleash a potent air attack.
On this day, quarterback Ryan Blitzer did precisely that, and the air attack proved fatal to North Babylon's title hopes.
The Bulldogs struck first Sunday on a gorgeous 21-yard run by Melijah Purvis, and then Blitzer took over. He hit his go-to receiver, Quinn Funn from 21 yards out. The extra point, a kick by Devrim Kucuk, knotted the core at seven. Later in the first stanza Funn returned a fumble for another touchdown. As it turned out, though, he was just warming up.
Blitzer found Jeffrey Pittman on a 60 yarder in the second quarter, and the quarterback ran for a score from the one-yard line after connecting with Funn on a 73-yarder. At halftime the locals held a 28-14 lead.
Once again Blitzer looked to Funn in the third quarter, and the pair hooked up on yet another scoring strike, from 29 yards. The pair was to do it again in the fourth, this time from six yards out.
Blitzer was on fire throughout; completing 13 of 19 for a whopping 291 yards and four TDs. Funn grabbed seven, good for 153 yards, and Pittman tallied five receptions good for 128 yards.
Cheatom did his part as well, picking up 95 yards on 22 carries. The Waves' underrated defense, meanwhile, stiffened after the first quarter and put the clamps on Purvis and company. North Babylon finished with an 8-3 mark.
"The victory was not only a triumph for our football team, but also for all of Riverhead," Superintendent of Schools Nancy Carney said. "It was so gratifying to see so many parents, students and community members in the stands Sunday night cheering our team on. I offer my congratulations to Coach Shay, his staff and his players for their dedication, hard work and talent on and off the field. These fine student athletes and the people who support them represent what is so great about Riverhead!"
The Blue Waves captured the Long Island Class II Championship with a 42-6 win over Elmont High School.
The RHS Blue Waves (9-2) will battle Garden City (10-1) on Saturday.
For the second time in five years, Riverhead has a chance to take home the LI Championship. In 2008, Riverhead became the first team in Long Island history to finish with a 12-0 record.
Garden City, 10-1, upended Wantagh 21-17 Sunday to win the Nassau County Division II Championship. Quarterback Roddy Roche threw for two scores for the winners.
Sayville overwhelmed Westhampton to take the Suffolk III title. The undefeated Golden Flashes, defending Long Island champs, were simply too much for the overmatched locals, with quarterback John Haggard doing the brunt of the damage on the ground, gaining 118 yards and scoring three times. Jack Murphy recorded the Hurricanes only score on a 30-yard fourth quarter run.