By FRANCIS FEDOR
The Alonzo Ashwood led Sumner Stingrays get ready to kick off their 4th season with a Kickoff Classic game at East Bay High School on Aug. 18th at 7:30 p.m. and play their home opener against Bloomingdale on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. in the “Tank.” Sumner will look to continue what has been a very successful program over the previous three regular seasons. It opened the 2020-21 season playing a mixed schedule, JV and varsity as the school established its student population. The varsity program exploded onto the scene in 2021, finishing with a 9-3 record, and running the table with a 5-0 district record on its way to a district title in its first full varsity season. It went 8-3 on the field but was forced to forfeit four of those wins. There was an appeal, and the wins are in the process of being restored. The Stingrays have built a reputation for winning and will have teams looking to measure themselves against a strong Sumner squad.
The Stingrays return Greg Smith III, a commit to USF, who will be back under center for his senior season. Greg could see time on defense from the free safety position. He can ignite the offense and is always a big play threat. One of his favorite targets, Tyler Williams, will create match-up issues for the secondary and is always a deep threat. Devin Spencer, a senior, will line up in the backfield as the starting running back. Kylen Webb will be a key member of the defense from the strong safety position. Cameron White, returning for his junior season, will pressure QBs from the defensive end position. Kevin Elsner will handle the kicking and punter duties for special teams for his final season at Sumner HS.
After a first glance at the schedule, one notable game is an away game vs. the Durant Cougars. The Stingrays have played Durant in each of their first three seasons but have not solved the Cougars to earn the win. The ‘Rays have been in each of the games, but the Cougars have done just enough to finish the game and take the victory. Durant squeaked out a 14-13 win last season in the Tank. Sumner will be looking to turn the tables on the Cougars in Plant City on October 3rd. The Stingrays will play South Shore rivals Lennard, at the Tank, and Riverview on the road. They will see the Newsome Wolves, just outside of the South Shore boundaries, visit the Tank for another marquee match-up.
It is set to be another fun season of Stingray football. Sumner plays its home games in a top-notch facility right here on Balm road and draws a big home crowd to its games. It is a fun atmosphere and a good chance to watch some great football. It all starts for real on Aug. 18th.