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Football: Riverhead rings victory bell on return day


The sound is like music to the ears of a Riverhead High School football player.

After each victory for Riverhead, the Blue Waves ring the victory bell outside Pulaski Street Elementary School once for every point they have scored in that game. It’s a tradition that goes back a long way. The bell was built in 1899 and christened in 1942, but rust and decay ended its use in the 1950s until the tradition was resurrected for a home victory in September 2001, according to Newsday. .

Twenty years later, the Blue Waves rang the victory bell after a Saturday 22-12 homecoming victory over Central Islip at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field. James Foster, Amari Funn, Lamarion Hopkins and Justin Mason were up there, wielding honors to cheers.

“We sounded it against Pat-Med [after a season-opening win over Patchogue-Medford]but it was late at night and it wasn’t very crowded, ”said coach Leif Shay. “It’s good for the kids, good for the community.

And this particular victory does a lot of good for Riverhead, who could be the ultimate underdog. Ranked last in 12-team Suffolk County Division I, Riverhead entered the season with just two players who had previous college experience – Foster and Hopkins. That’s it. Everyone was a beginner.

Of course, one of the main reasons was that Riverhead hadn’t played fall and winter sports in the past school year due to budget constraints. A number of players have left the program for other schools.

And yet, Riverhead now holds a 2-1 record. Who would have thought?

John Booker (10) is congratulated on his 12-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter by Amari Funn. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

“It’s a bit mind-boggling, especially without playing last year,” said Gabriel Arruda, who started things moving, finding a seam and returning the opening kickoff to 85 yards for a touchdown. . “It really is just amazing.”

“Especially after last week [a 41-0 loss to Ward Melville], we needed something big and bold, ”he said.

Amari Funn, who ran for 138 yards and his second touchdown of the season, said: “I knew what kind of a game it was going to be from there.”

It was Riverhead’s game, but it wasn’t easy. The Blue Waves need to take advantage of the breaks and be resourceful, like an old-fashioned scramble caucus game they use for two-point attempts. They start to line up like they’re going to kick the ball, then the players have dispersed. Mason, the team’s quarterback and holder, then becomes the only “lineman” to send the ball to Funn.

“We performed it about 15 years ago and we kind of buried it in the playbook and, you know, we blew the dust out of it,” Shay said. He added: “We have to do these kinds of things to try to get an advantage.”

It worked both times the Blue Waves used it on Saturday. First, Funn returned a two-run pass to Dylan Magee. Then in the fourth quarter, Funn found Justin Moore for two runs after John Booker caught a 12-yard pass from Mason for a touchdown.

Due to Joey Bonilla receiving a 20-yard pass thrown by Kevin Mills early in the second quarter (and a missed run after that), Riverhead maintained an 8-6 lead for most of the game.

It was not until the fourth quarter that the score increased. Funn found an opening for his second touchdown of the season, a 20-yard that took the score to 22-6 with 2 minutes 26 seconds remaining.

Mills (7-for-10, 121 yards) joined Bonilla (four catches, 89 yards) on a score of 17 yards with 1:12 to go.

Bonilla’s offensive kick was obtained by Mason.

“I was expecting a lot because the teammates we have on this team are very focused,” said Hopkins. “Everyone helps everyone. If one person has trouble, everybody goes up and everything. You know, that’s how teams win games.

Funn has run 342 yards on 66 carries (5.2 yards per carry) in three games.

“We were pumped up,” he said. “We were waiting, redemption, after a big loss, after Ward Melville. We got out, we did what we had to do today.

And the victory bell rang 22 times.