Homecoming week comes with its fair share of responsibilities — from community members setting up the parade to pee-wee football players holding the Blue Wave banner that the players crash through.

But no responsibility is more important than a Riverhead victory.

Unfortunately, that responsibility was left unfulfilled.

After falling behind 21-0 to the East Islip Redmen with 9:48 left in the fourth quarter, the Blue Waves walked off the field with their heads hanging low. A crowd that had little to applaud for throughout the game began to disperse to the exits.

That’s when a loyal fan shouted, “Hey! It ain’t over yet. A lot can happen in nine minutes.”

Riverhead sent its kick return on the field and a long kick landed in the arms of Ryun Moore who at the five-yard line took a step back and settled himself before bursting forward. Two quick cuts and Moore was through the gaping hole down the middle of the field. The crowd was suddenly on its feet. Moore had one man to beat, the kicker. He faked to the left and cut right, making the kicker lose his feet in the process. He made it all the way to the end zone for a 95-yard kick return for a TD to make it 21-7.

Whatever spirit this week had brought to the field seemed to still be around. The Blue Waves all of a sudden had life. The defense urged the crowd to stay on its feet the following possession right in tim for another spurt of spirit.

Ryun Moore eludes tackle. (Photo: George Faella)

East Islip set up a screen pass to the running back on third down and long in their own territory. The Blue Waves were flushed through the line as the offensive lineman pushed forward leaving defenders exposed. A high lob pass left the hand of East Islip quarterback Jack Hannigan but it never made it to the running back. Ethan Greenidge, all 6’5″ of him, leaped up and snagged the pass from his defensive tackle position. Instead of hitting the turf and giving the ball back to the offense, Greenidge took it upon himself to cut the deficit. He chugged forward, using his teammates as a plow and ran over anyone and anything in his way all the way to the end zone for a touchdown.

One minute had come off the game clock and the Blue Waves were in contention again.

The defense did its job and stopped East Islip multiple times to give the offense an opportunity to tie the game. But nothing came of it. The offense was stymied the entire game and that continued to be the case throughout the fourth quarter. The Blue Waves surrendered four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble.

East Islip (4-2) left the field as winners 21-14.

Riverhead quarterback Kenny Simco. (Photo: George Faella)

“It was a dog fight from the beginning,” Moore said. “We knew it was going to be that way and I guess we just didn’t get it done.”

The running game never got going, head coach Leif Shay acknowledged, which prevented the passing attack to establish itself.

“We have two offensive lineman out so we couldn’t run the ball against a real power team,” Shay said. “Our offense is run first and then throw second. We were just terrible offensively today.”

A lack of attention in practice may also be to blame, a few players admitted.

“We needed more noise in the background in practice, more excitement and more attention,” Moore said. “We seemed confused or lost at some points in the game today.”

“We had a bad practice in the middle of the week,” defensive captain Raheem Brown said. “We were out of sync. Me and Ethan (Greenidge) got everyone together and had a talk with them. That one practice might have done it.”

“I have to push myself harder as a captain,” Brown said. “I need to get everyone on the same level as me. Pushing myself harder will make others do the same. You lead by example. It starts with the captains.”

There’s a chance East Islip and Riverhead could meet in the playoffs which would bring a chance for revenge.

“Don’t worry,” Brown said. “We’ll see ’em again. And there ain’t nothing sweeter than revenge.”

Riverhead (4-2) plays (1-5) North Babylon next Saturday at home. Game time: 2 p.m.

Photo caption (top): Ethan Greenidge snares an interception in the 4th quarter. He ran it in for a touchdown to bring the score to 21-14.


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Michael Hejmej is a freelance writer, real estate agent and native of Riverhead.