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December 03, 2008

Riverhead Wins Long Island Division II Title



Sports
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(click for larger version)
Elmont should have never shown up. The 2008 Nassau County Division II football champion's bus should have made a quick circle around Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium parking lot, surveyed its situation and headed back west while the getting was still good.

Riverhead, Elmont's opponent in last Saturday's Long Island Division II championship game, boasted one of the best running games in the state as well as a punishing, physical defense which allowed an average of seven points per game through its first eleven games.

The Blue Waves' 42-6 steamrolled over Elmont last Saturday, becoming the first team in Long Island high school football history to complete a season with a 12-0 record.

"It's just the greatest feeling in the world," said Riverhead senior linebacker Tyler Gilliam. "I can't ask for a feeling better than this. To be here with my family, with my guys, the crowd, the fan base. It's just made my town proud and made the fellas proud. It's just a great experience."

Gilliam helped lead a massive stone wall Waves defensive unit which shut out Elmont in the first half as Riverhead built a commanding 35-0 lead. Senior defensive end Andrew Smith along with junior linebacker Malcolm Cater and junior defensive lineman Mike Smith were also major forces in the win as the Waves defense held the Elmont (9-3) offense to small gains throughout the contest.

"As a whole, our team just played phenomenal," said Riverhead senior running back Miguel Maysonet. "Coach [Leif Shay] said he wanted our last game to be our best game of the year and I think it was. Words can't describe how I feel right now."

Maysonet solidified his stock as the best offensive player on Long Island this season; scoring four touchdowns and totaling 251 rushing yards, 202 which were accumulated in the first half. In 12 games this season, Maysonet has run for a school record 2,328 yards and 33 touchdowns. Both aforementioned statistics are tops among all Long Island football players.

Riverhead scored on its opening possession of the first quarter with Maysonet playing the offensive catalyst as he burst through a huge hole created by his offensive line and plunged into Elwood's end zone from five yards out. On the Waves next possession, Maysonet carried the ball eight times. His ninth carry of the drive resulted in a one-yard touchdown run.

After Edwin Perry recovered an Elmont fumble to give the ball back to Riverhead, Waves quarterback Tim Velys threw a high, tight spiral to receiver Tim Fitzgerald down the right side of the field and the receiver beat his man-coverage; catching a 33-yard pass in stride a second before he entered the end zone. It was 20-0 Blue Waves with time still remaining in the first quarter. In other words: it was over for Elmont.

Maysonet scored on a touchdown run of 23 yards shortly after teammate Greg Meyer intercepted a pass thrown to the right side and returned the ball 59 yards to set up the play. Meyer would then score on a nine-yard touchdown run on Riverhead's final possession of the second quarter, allowing Riverhead to walk off the field with a 35-0 lead at halftime. Maysonet closed out the scoring in the third quarter with a 23-yard touchdown run.

"It was our last chance to ever play high school football again with the guys, so everybody was real emotional in the locker room before the game and they came out and gave it their all," Gilliam said. "We came out on top, like every other week and now we're the Long Island champions."

rsmidt@indyeastend.com

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