Bitzer, Riverhead make statement in season-opening win
This top seed appears really fertile.
Riverhead's in-it-to-win-it mantra in Suffolk II started from its first play on offense when star quarterback Ryan Bitzer served up a 46-yard scoring pass to Jeffrey Pittman. That started a resounding day for the home team. The Blue Waves became a tsunami, turning yesterday's season opener against West Babylon into a 42-0 victory.
"There's a lot of doubters out there, saying we shouldn't be No. 1," said Bitzer, who threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in less than three quarters. "We just wanted to come out and prove them wrong. I think we showed today we deserve it. This is a team to look out for."
Pittman heartily agreed, saying, "We have a target on our back. We have to let everybody know we are here to win it all. That [first] play was for our community. We wanted to come out with a big bang and let everybody know Riverhead is here and here to play hard."
There wasn't much of a drop-off when Bitzer was rested as junior QB Cody Smith did a nice job, throwing a 33-yard TD pass to Ryan Hubbard for the final scoring play. Devrim Kuckuk kicked six extra points.
Riverhead dominated in every facet and in the process displayed another offensive weapon beside Bitzer in junior running back Jeremiah Cheatom, who scored on a 62-yard dash in the first quarter and added his second TD on a 61 yard run to give Riverhead its fourth score of the first half.
"We have a prolific passing game," coach Leif Shay said. "That's what people tend to look at. We think we can run the ball, too. [Cheatom] has explosiveness and stability."
Cheatom rushed 11 times for 163 yards. "It feels good," he said of his day's work. "Our passing game opens everything up. Everybody [on defense] is looking for our receivers, so they are backing up, leaving me a hole or a cutback just to run."
Riverhead's offense did not have much time to rest, courtesy of the defense, which thwarted West Babylon and QB Clifton Melhado. Pittman, also a defensive back, had two interceptions. Linebacker Matthew Hejmej had an INT and fumble recovery. Daniel Czelatka also had an INT. Michael Von Bommel had eight tackles and a forced fumble. Nickolas Ross had eight tackles. Jamaal Hall and co-captain Joseph Napoli each had a sack.
Bitzer will take all the help he can get. "That's fine with me if we are getting three picks a game and fumble recovery," he said. "Our defense stepped up, pitched a shutout."