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Elijah Riley, Newfield make it look easy

Newfield Wolverines' Elijah Riley (8) breaks through the

Newfield Wolverines' Elijah Riley (8) breaks through the defense during a Suffolk II football semifinal at Newfield High School on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2015. Credit: Alan J Schaefer

Elijah Riley made quite a first impression on North Babylon -- in both halves of Saturday's Suffolk Division II semifinal playoff game. The first time the Newfield halfback touched the ball, he swept around right end and darted between two defenders on his way to a 60-yard touchdown.

And on his first touch of the third quarter, Riley bolted around left end, skipped over a tackler and went for a 63-yard touchdown as Newfield cruised to a 32-6 win before a crowd of 1,100 in Selden.

Newfield (10-0) set a school record for wins in a season, and advanced to Friday night's Suffolk II final against Half Hollow Hills West (9-1) at LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University at 7 p.m.

"Elijah is the complete package,'' Newfield coach Joe Piccininni said. "He set the tone with our first offensive play with a long touchdown run and then scored on the first play of the third quarter with an explosive run. He is without a doubt the best football player on Long Island.''

Riley finished with 210 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. He also caught a 39-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, and added a team-leading 13 tackles, 10 solos.

Perhaps the signature moment of his all-around game came in the third quarter when North Babylon's Jared Ziegler made a nifty move and burst into the open field on a kickoff return. Riley closed quickly on the speedy Ziegler and hammered him on the North Babylon sideline to prevent a score.

"He's the safety on kickoff,'' Piccininni said. "If he's not there, that kid has a touchdown.''

Newfield quarterback Ryan Klemm added to the Wolverines' early lead when he connected with tight end Austin Gubelman for a 10-yard pass with 6:20 left in the first quarter to make it 13-0.

"It was a perfect throw,'' Gubelman said.

The Newfield defense came up with a huge stop late in the half. North Babylon (7-3) used a 26-yard punt return by Ryan Thompson to set up its drive. The Bulldogs methodically moved 41 yards in 10 plays on runs by Nick Grassa, Ziegler and Brandon Sobotker. They faced fourth-and-4 at the Newfield 15.

Grassa caught a swing pass but couldn't get upfield for the first down as Dylan Ferrari, who had 12 tackles and seven solos, made the stop.

"Dylan's a three-year starter and he's one of the best,'' Newfield defensive coordinator Nick Comanzo said. "We move him around to negate the other team's best player.''

Riley's 63-yard scoring run opened a 19-0 lead 17 seconds into the second half. After Justin Ottenwalder recovered a North Babylon fumble, Klemm wasted little time building on the lead. He fired a 39-yard scoring pass into a heavy wind to Riley, who'd beaten the secondary, for a 25-0 lead.

''Most of our team has been playing together since we were 5 years old,'' said Klemm, who was 3-for-6 for 103 yards and two scores. "We have great chemistry."

Ottenwalder had a 34-yard scoring run for Newfield's final points. North Babylon scored late on a 2-yard run by Jahjuan Winters.

"North Babylon can play,'' Gubelman said. "They come with a lot of lead blockers and they bring it. This was no easy win.''

Although Riley made everything look effortless.

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