By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
East Bay, Sumner, and Spoto registered victories in last week’s gridiron action. Coming up on the short end of scores were Lennard and Riverview.
Coach Frank LaRosa’s 2-2 East Bay Indians hooked up in a donnybrook with the 1-3 Sharks from Riverview. The Indians built an early lead and hung on for dear life to finally claim a 41-35 win. Lennard celebrated Seniors Night in Ruskin, but the Longhorns could not put the icing on the cake, falling 26-7 to the hungry, red-hot Wolves of Newsome. The 3-2 Spoto Spartans continued their winning ways with a 10-7 squeaker over 0-4 Blake in Riverview. Sumner took its rookie campaign to Tampa and returned with a win over Leto.
The pigskin parade rolls on this week with a slate of 7:30 p.m. contests Oct. 16 and a Sumner varsity match with the East Bay JV at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15. East Bay varsity treks to Wesley Chapel to do battle with 2-3 Wiregrass Ranch. The Bulldogs fell 42-14 to Mitchell of New Port Richey last week. Meanwhile, Coach William Mosel’s Sharks entertain their namesakes from Sarasota. The Riverview Rams are 3-1 and already have a resounding win over South Shore foe Lennard. The Longhorns look to snap a 2-game losing streak in Davenport at the expense of 2-3 Ridge Community. Spoto has a Friday evening home date with 2-1 Hillsborough High.
The Riverview Sharks made the short trip from Boyette Road to East Bay on Big Bend Road. It was a busy night for the scoreboard operator. When the dust finally cleared, the Indians had nipped the Sharks.
East Bay started fast, with sophomore QB Nathan Carter running for a 4-yard TD with eight minutes in the opening stanza. Even though the Indians missed the extra point, they had the first of 28 straight points. But the Sharks staged an unbelievable comeback to tie 28-28 with 11 minutes left in the game.
The Indians’ Daris Jackson added an 8-yard rushing TD, and Carter hit Jordan Kow for a 2-point conversion to push East Bay to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Coach LaRosa’s defense did not let up. Marlow Freye victimized Riverview with a 55-yard pick six in the second quarter. Another interception by EB’s Trent Cherry set up running back Armone Bostick for a 25-yard dash to the end zone. Nicholas Linebarger booted the extra for a seemingly insurmountable 28-0 lead in the first half.
Riverview refused to wilt. The Sharks started a comeback with a 15-yard TD toss in the waning moments of the first half. The Sharks continued their surge. By the time, Riverview was through, it had scored 28 unanswered points and knotted the game 28-28 with a quarter of football remaining.
Those who had left earlier in the game missed a resounding climax. East Bay finally responded to Riverview’s flurry. The Indians Ethan Lyons bulled in for a score from the 1-yard line. Linebarger’s PAT made it 35-28 with an exciting eight minutes to go.
East Bay held Riverview on downs. Back on offense, the Indians went up 41-28 as QB Carter scampered into the end zone on a 15-yard TD. A missed extra point set the stage for even more drama.
With less than a minute in the game, Riverview’s Ricky Lundstrom gathered in a 9-yard TD pass. East Bay 41-Riverview 35 read the scoreboard with seconds remaining. The Sharks furious rally put the visitors within a TD and extra point of a possible win. But the clock said no. The Indians breathed a huge sigh of relief with the nail-biting victory.
Lennard’s passing game could not supply the necessary offense to offset Newsome’s well-balanced offensive attack. The Lithia visitors stymied the Longhorns running game all night, restricting Lennard to a measly 22 yards on 17 totes. Even though junior QB Gavin Henley put up good numbers through the air for Lennard, Newsome cruised to the win after racing to an 11-0 halftime lead. The Wolves polished off the Horns with a 15 point exclamation mark in the fourth quarter after Lennard had scored seven in the third quarter on a 26-yard scoring toss from Henley to sophomore Elijay Singleton. The Horns score was sparked after a turnover fumble prompted by the tackling of Lennard’s Jaylin Hobbs, a USF commit, and a recovery by Braylen Henry.
A large home crowd in Ruskin, enjoying a crisp fall night with the first relaxed Hillsborough County spectator covid restrictions, was energized by Lennard’s apparent comeback. But Newsome’s punting game by highly recruited junior Ryan Eckley and two short scores by Jason Albritton squelched all Lennard hopes.
Stats show QB Henley hit 24 of 34 passes for 213 yards and the lone Lennard score. Singleton continued his pass reception prowess, nabbing five for 56 yards and a TD. Co-captain senior Dax Corr chipped in with six catches for 71 yards. Defensively, senior co-captain Amari Jones continued yeoman’s work with five solo tackles and eight assists. Senior Marcus Carn Jr. and junior Dominick Murphy helped slow down the Newsome offense.
Newsome was sparked by its QB Kamarii Austin, a senior, who hit 7 of 11 passes for 116 yards. The Wolves balanced that with 185 rushing yards on 37 carries, led by junior Albritton and sophomore JC Roque.
Sumner posted another varsity win in its 4-1 inaugural season last week. Now the surprising senior-less Stingrays face two Junior Varsity teams on successive Thursday evenings before concluding the 2020 season with the winless varsity of Brandon Oct. 30 at 7:30 pm.
Coach Alonzo Ashwood’s exciting Rays bopped winless Leto’s varsity 22-6 in Tampa. Junior QB Jason Rivera, sophomore QB Braxton Maenza and sophomore running back Keoni Denney continued to pace Sumner on offense. Rivera completed 4 of 12 against Leto for 37 yards. Maenez hit 5 of 11 for 90 yards. On the ground, Denny carried nine times for 79 yards and 2 TDs. He was complemented by frosh Dominic Jones with 5 rushes for 32 yards. Key receivers were Kade Ray, Kason Stokes and Manny Noesi. On the other side of the ball, the Stingrays have received consistent defensive performances from Denny, Mekhi Slater and Al’Varado Lewis. Against the Falcons, Denny registered 5 tackles, Lewis had 8 tackles and Slater harassed Leto with 5 sacks.