His coach calls him Eli. He prefers Elijah. Opponents undoubtedly call him something less elegant.
Whoever he plays, wherever he plays, Newfield's versatile Elijah Riley stands out.
"He's our go-to guy. We can put him anywhere and he does the job. He sells out on every play and does whatever you need him to do," Newfield coach Joe Piccininni said Friday night after Riley carried six times for 82 yards and two touchdowns plus a two-point conversion, caught a long pass to set up another score and made six tackles in the Wolverines' 32-0 victory over visiting North Babylon in Suffolk II.
At various times this season, in helping lead Newfield to the top of the league with a 7-0 record, Riley has played running back, Wildcat quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback, safety and outside linebacker.
"I like cornerback the best," Riley said with a smile. "It's one-on-one with the receiver. There's camaraderie on the defense you don't get on offense. It's more fun."
The fun began early against the Bulldogs (5-2). On Newfield's second play from scrimmage, Ryan Klemm hit Riley on a deep sideline pattern for 36 yards to the North Babylon 25. Two plays later, Klemm (7-for-11, 159 yards, two touchdowns) hit Jelani Greene (four catches, 55 yards) in the right corner of the end zone. Riley's conversion run made it 8-0.
On the Wolverines' second possession, the presence of Greene and Riley split wide, side-by-side, up on the right side created enough of a dilemma for the defense that when Klemm dropped a screen pass to Justin Ottenwalder on the left side, Ottenwalder was able to race 71 yards for a touchdown. The kick made it 15-0.
Newfield put the game on ice in the second quarter. Riley made a slick cutback move on a counter play and raced 28 yards to the North Babylon 1. He dove in for the touchdown two plays later and the Wolverines had a 25-0 lead before halftime.
Their defense, led by defensive tackle Nick Favaloro (10 tackles), linebacker Austin Gubelman (nine tackles) and Greene made sure the Bulldogs, who did not attempt a single pass, never got their running game going.
Riley wrapped up the scoring early in the third quarter with a 25-yard run on a power sweep. "Big runs are the best," Riley said. "Our offensive line keeps Ryan safe and everybody is together."
That unity is best exemplified by how Newfield welcomed Longwood transfer Greene into the program this season. Instead of jealousy over who gets the most touches on offense, there is joy about the team's success.
"The best thing about this team," Piccininni said, "is that they work so well together. It's such a good chemistry. We got a new kid [Greene] and he fit right in. They all do their best for each other and that's something special."
So are the myriad talents of Riley, who said that he's drawn interest from Army, New Hampshire, Maine and Lehigh. "I'd love to play defense at the next level. That's the dream," he said. "But I'll play wherever they put me."
That's no surprise.