A River Hill football player was given four hours of detention, ordered to perform 10 hours of community service, required to write a letter of apology and was benched for one quarter of last Friday's game for punching an opponent during a game on Oct. 23, River Hill Principal Bill Ryan said yesterday.

There was no penalty called on the play, but the incident was recorded on videotape that was provided to Ryan last week.

The tape, a copy of which was obtained by The Post, showed a Long Reach running back moving to his right to block a River Hill linebacker. The River Hill player brought his right arm back and threw an uppercut into the Long Reach player's stomach.

River Hill Coach Brian Van Deusen met with the player and his parents last Wednesday, and Van Deusen said the player acknowledged the mistake and regretted his actions.

Under Howard County school rules, a student who hits another student at school could be suspended, reassigned to another school or expelled. But Ryan said this incident was different because it occurred on an athletic field.

"On the athletic field you have officials supervising the game and players running into each other at, say, 30 miles per hour and there is a high level of intensity," Ryan said. "So it's different than, say, if it would have happened in the cafeteria where you have school administrators and kids are quietly eating their lunch."

-- Jon Gallo