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Class II Long Island Championship primer: Riverhead vs. Garden City

Garden City Justin Guterding reacts after his team

Garden City Justin Guterding reacts after his team stopped Carey on a dramatic fourth down from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter of the Nassau II semifinals at Hofstra University. (Nov. 17, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

The Long Island Championship game is familiar territory for Garden City. The Trojans are playing in the event for the 13th since it began in 1992.

Coach Tom Flatley’s team is 4-8 in the big game, but never an easy out.

Riverhead has been here twice before, losing to Garden City, 20-0, in 2003, and rolling to the title, 42-6, over Elmont in 2008, behind Hansen Trophy-winning running back Miguel Maysonet.

The Blue Waves’ offense has blossomed with the development of junior running back Jeremiah Cheatom (1,674 yards 14 touchdowns). Cheatom provides a nice complement to the potent passing game of quarterback Ryan Bitzer (1,839 yards, 18 touchdowns) and wide receiver Quinn Funn (49 catches, 975 yards, 13 TDs). Riverhead averages 32 points per page.

Garden City isn’t as explosive, but this season has been especially rewarding because the Trojans graduated most of their starters from last year’s team, which lost to Newfield in the LIC. But new players stepped up, led by junior quarterback Brett Stewart who set a school record with 20 touchdown passes. Two of them, plus a two-point conversion pass, came in a tense 22-18 Nassau II semifinal win over Carey. He’s also a running threat.

Justin Guterding, a lacrosse star headed to Duke, ran for the game-winning TD run in a 21-17 victory over Wantagh in the Nassau II title game and, along with Ed Blatz, gives Stewart a couple of big targets. Linebacker Scott D’Antonio leads a typically tough and opportunistic Garden City defense.