Sophomore Ryun Moore tossed and turned as he tried to get to sleep the night before Riverhead's Long Island Class II championship game against undefeated Carey.
But the lack of sleep did not slow down Moore, who started at running back after senior star Jeremiah Cheatom was deemed academically ineligible this week.
"To get the start in the LIC as a sophomore was real crazy,'' Moore said Friday after Riverhead's 20-6 loss. "I have just been thinking about what I had to do today and I just came out here and played football like I've been doing since I was 6 years old.''
Riverhead hung with Carey throughout the game and had a chance to pull within one score late in the fourth quarter.
"Every week we were losing bodies,'' coach Leif Shay said. "Tonight we were down about six starters, but we played tough and we kept pushing through.''
Moore's contributions were a big part of that. He gained 126 yards on 20 carries and was all over the field defensively, recording seven tackles from the defensive backfield.
"That kid Ryun Moore is going to be a great football player -- he is a great football player right now,'' senior quarterback Cody Smith said. "He's so young, but he's big and strong and smart and he's going to be great -- he already is, actually.''
Smith, who finished 21-for-32 for 161 yards and a touchdown and ran for 42 yards, was instrumental in Riverhead's success in the playoffs.
"He's done this for us all year,'' Shay said. "He's a very gritty kid and he's the type of guy you want on your team.''On Carey's next drive after Smith hit Jaron Greenidge for a 14-yard touchdown pass, the Seahawks marched into Riverhead territory before Moore forced a fumble that was recovered by Tyrese Kerr.
"Ryun is a gamer and he is going to be the future of our program,'' Shay said. "He's a great kid, and kudos to him for stepping up when he had to.''
The entire Riverhead team stepped up throughout the season, filling in admirably for injured players and filling voids left by the senior class from last year's Suffolk champions.
"We're at a good place,'' Shay said, "and the program is going to be strong for the next couple of years.''