Quarterback Ryan Bitzer is a throwback. In this era of sport specialization, the Riverhead senior excels at three sports – football, basketball and lacrosse. In fact, Bitzer has made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Stony Brook. So what sport does he like the best?
“I like to say that my favorite sport is the one I’m playing at the time,” Bitzer said with a smile during a break from his weight room workout during Friday’s evening practice session.
So for now, Bitzer’s favorite sport is football and Blue Waves coach Leif Shay is happy about that. “He’s in his third year as a starter and is an exceptional athlete,” Shay said. “He’s remarkably accurate with his throws and he doesn’t rattle under pressure.”
Bitzer said he welcomes the challenge of being part of the top-seeded team in Division II after last year’s 6-3 finish. “There’s a lot of hype for being No. 1 but I think we’re ready for it,” Bitzer said. “Around the school, there will be a buzz around the football team. That should be fun. I hope to have as good a season as last year. Maybe even better.”
If he does, it will be in part because the Blue Waves return two of Bitzer’s favorite targets, speedy Jeff Pittman and acrobatic Quinn Funn. “The defense will have to watch out for these guys,” Bitzer said. “We have a lot of weapons and a lot of good athletes.”
Bitzer is one of them, of course. Last season he showed pocket poise in a victory over Half Hollow Hills West and scrambling ability in an upset victory over East Islip. “I trust my guy to make plays for me,” Bitzer said. “In the back of our minds, all the seniors want to leave something behind.”
The best legacy the Blue Wave could provide would be their first Long Island championship since Miguel Maysonet led them to a perfect season in 2008. For that to happen, Bitzer will have to put football first … for now.
“I enjoy the experience of all three sports,” he said. “Every sport helps me with the other sport I play. I’m happy I play all three.”
He is Riverhead’s man for all seasons.