By STEVE JACKSON
Sumner High and the Riverview Sharks both crushed Tampa opponents Friday to remain unbeaten. The two best, so far, of the five South Shore high school football squads look to easily dominate again Friday, Sept. 9.
The East Bay Indians are also among the top South Shore teams in the very early-going. East Bay hosts Sickles in the Indians’ home opener Friday and, like the Stingrays and the Sharks, East Bay is highly favored to win again. Spoto and Lennard are bringing up the rear in South Shore grid action. Both suffered losses to drop to 0-2 last Friday. This Friday, Spoto is a big underdog at home against powerful, unbeaten Alonso High. Meanwhile, Lennard has a fighting chance against Middleton High in Tampa after dropping two straight to Tampa teams to open the season. Riverview welcomes 0-2 Chamberlain while Sumner travels to Jefferson, looking to make the Dragons 2-1.
The Spoto Spartans received some decent rushing yardage from sophomore Z’orey Cotton and scrapped defensively but fell to the 2-0 Strawberry Crest Chargers 21-0 last Friday night.
The loss is Spoto’s second, after dropping a wild donnybrook opener 61-32 to Robinson. Now, Coach Keith Chattin faces another tough challenge this Friday in the 2-0 Alonso Ravens, averaging 54.5 points a game. Cotton, also the Spartan captain, rushed 15 times for 105 yards against Strawberry Crest. Spartan senior running back Carri Ponder carried the ball only four times for 14 yards. The home standing Strawberry Crest methodically dominated Spoto in Dover, putting up seven in the first quarter, and seven in the third and fourth quarters. Riverview went extreme on the depth chart as sophomore Elijah Lespinasse also had a touch at running back, gaining seven yards.
East Bay took last Friday night off. The 1-0 Indians jump back into the thick of things this Friday, opening at home against the Sickles Gryphons. Head Coach Mike Gottmann knows the Indians are pretty good this season. The East Bay coach is looking for another big-scoring first quarter and an offense sparked by senior quarterback Nathan Carter and junior running back Jaelin Sneed. Sneed scored twice and totaled 100 yards on the ground in the road opener 41-0 win versus Middleton. Sneed was complemented by the veteran QB Carter who accumulated 119 yards in the air.
Sickles brings an 0-2 record to Big Bend Road. The Gryphons lost to Newsome last week 33-14 after dropping their opener 38-26 to Jefferson. Junior Brandon Royal is expected to rely on his arm for Sickles Head Coach Kyle Jolly. The Gryphons picked up 196 passing yards with two TDs from Royal, losing against Newsome as he hit 13 of 26. Sickles junior Isaiah Hudson is the team’s leading receiver, grabbing four for 144 yards and a score versus Newsome.
The Riverview Sharks lambasted 0-2 Freedom 54-0 last Friday, and you can expect more of the same this Friday night in Riverview. First-year Sharks Coach Anthony Rodriquez is awash with weapons on offense and defense. The Sharks have piled up 99 points in the opening season wins and yielded zero in the two victories. Chamberlain makes the trip east with its 0-2 record coughing up 59 points and not yet denting the scoreboard.
In the rout of Freedom last week, Riverview got an efficient three of six passing from transfer quarterback junior Aaron Turner, along with his four runs for 28 yards. Turner’s passing resulted in 115 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Two were hauled in by senior Harrison Hensley for scores, and one was nabbed by junior Timothy Brigman for a TD. Sharks outstanding running back, junior Nico Shoats, also had a productive game. Shoats carried six times for 107 yards and two TDs. Three soph ball carriers each scored on a lone run. Andrew Lee went for the longest rushing score on 43 yards. Also finding the end zone for the Sharks were Isaiah Washington and Zy Floyd.
Lennard Head Coach Matt Kitchie has seen his offensively-challenged Longhorns lose two straight to Tampa high school opponents. This Friday Coach Kitchie and Lennard fans are looking for a different conclusion against the 0-2 Middleton Tigers in Tampa. Lennard is also 0-2 after losing 41-12 to Robinson last week. Something has to give Friday evening in the clash between two under-performing teams.
Overall, Middleton has given up 79 points and tallied only six against two early tough foes, East Bay and Durant. Lennard has not done much better. The Longhorns were shutout 50-0 by Hillsborough High but did manage to find some points in last week’s 41-12 defeat by Robinson.
The Longhorns selected QB Tyler Russell as offensive player of the game and safety Elijah Darcueil as defensive player of the game in the Robinson loss. Russell exhibited some nifty running, gaining 143 yards on 15 carries. The Lennard offensive line and three other backs also contributed to the development of the Lennard offense. Soph Mason Burriss rambled 62 yards on four runs, senior RB Draiden Neidge picked up 40 yards on nine totes and junior Anthony Hunt finished with 30 yards and four carries. Senior Sammy Randle returned kicks for 85 yards total while senior Dural Galite contributed 42 in the same category. Hunt added eight tackles and one sack while junior Dominic Smith chipped in on seven tackles for Lennard. Russell and backup QB Liam McDowell both hit only two of five passes for scant yards.