By STEVE JACKSON
The five South Shore high school football teams won three and lost one and had one bye over the Labor Day weekend. In an unusual week of weather, Friday night lights were modified to Saturday night lights for high school football all over Hillsborough County. The mid-week hurricane Idalia caused some minor field damage necessitating the temporary change.
Saturday night winners included Sumner and Riverview, both now 2-0; Lennard with a victory to go to 1-1; Spoto with a home loss to go 0-2; and East Bay still at 1-0 after a bye or open week. Next week all games are on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.
This week every squad returns to the normal Friday evening routine at home or on the road. Sumner hosts Jefferson High (see separate Sumner article in The ObserverNews print and digital).
The Riverview Sharks continue to attack with a high-scoring offense. Under Coach Tony Rodriquez, the Sharks manhandled Freedom in Tampa 35-0 for their second straight win. Another cupcake, hapless Chamberlain High in Tampa, should result in a third straight rout by the talented Sharks. Riverview quarterback senior Aaron Turner and running back Rico Shoats led the way, keeping the chains moving forward against Freedom. The senior duo is expected to do the same versus 0-2 Chamberlain this Friday evening. Next up at Riverview is a big rivalry game with neighbor East Bay, Thursday, Sept. 14.
Sharks QB Turner hit nine of 14 passes for 93 yards and a pair of TDs versus Freedom. Shoats toted the pigskin seven times for 78 yards and a score. Junior wideout Isaiah Washington scored once on five catches for 50 yards. Junior Julian Arthurs hauled in four aerials from Turner for 21 yards. The Sharks defense throttled Freedom, holding the Patriots to 31 yards on the ground on 26 rushes and to a lone pass completion for 43 yards.
The most pleasant surprise of last week was Lennard’s 28-14 victory over Robinson at Ruskin. The victory total of one already matches the Longhorns one total win from last year and first under new Head Coach KD Belton. The Middleton Tigers bring an 0-2 record to Ruskin for a Friday night clash with Lennard this week. Middleton has been whipped by East Bay 38-6 and by Durant 31-0 so far.
Over Labor Day weekend, both Robinson and Lennard came out swinging and scoring back to back in the first half. The Horns got on the board first with sophomore quarterback Jacob Mobley finding the end zone on a sneak, which was set up with Mobley’s 50 yard pass to senior Braylon Smith. Robinson High came back immediately with a 40 yard TD score and a 7-7 tie. Amari Sampson then rambled for a 20 yard Lennard score. The PAT pushed the first half lead to 14-7 in favor of Lennard. Robinson tied it at the half with a TD pass covering 15 yards.
In the second half, the Horns defense turned it up a few notches as the Lennard offense and defense combined to score 14 more to make it a 28-14 win. Lennard’s defense was staunch in the third quarter, sacking the Robinson QB four times.
Meanwhile, Horns running back soph Dorian Burns hit pay dirt from 20 yards out to extend the Lennard lead to 21-14. The final score was the defensive play of the game as senior linebacker 6-1, 200 lb. Anthony Hunt put an exclamation mark on the game with a 65 yard pick six to seal the victory for the Horns. Junior Aiden Gibbons’ extra point, his fourth of the game, made the final 28-14. Both squads are now 1-1.
“A hard fought game and a big win,” commented Coach Belton. The Lennard student section stormed the field following the win. The home victory was Lennard’s first in Ruskin since beating Alonso High in 2020.
Spoto showed a high-end offensive potential but its high octane passing game could not overcome a strong rushing attack from Strawberry Crest. The Spartans of Coach Keith Chattin welcomed Strawberry Crest to its stadium by totaling 511 yards, mainly through passing with 352 yards in the air. However, the Chargers from Dover were led by sensational senior Devin Blunt’s 189 yards rushing with four touchdowns. SC attempted only three passes, completing all for a mere 22 yards.
Statistic wise, Spoto put up good numbers but dropped a close game 35-31.
The Spartans 5-11, 225 lb. sophomore quarterback Nathan Richardson threw for four touchdowns among his 20 for 29 night for 352 yards. Last season’s offensive whiz junior Z’orey Cotton, at 5-8, 170 lbs., hauled in nine aerials for 154 yards and two scores. Sophomore teammate Jesse Harden utilized his 6-3, 162 pound frame to nab eight passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Spoto now faces three straight games on the road. First up, Sept. 8, is the 2-0 Alonso Ravens squad in Tampa. The Thursday, Sept. 14, road opponent is beatable 0-2 King High. To close out September, Spoto makes the short trip to Big Bend Road to contest the 1-0 East Bay Indians. The next home game for the Spartans is against Leto High on Oct. 6.
The East Bay High Indians of Coach Mike Gottman had a week off. The Indians are 1-0 after opening with a win over Middleton. Now EB travels to Sickles for this Friday night contest. EB won its opener easily over Middleton. Sickles, sporting a most unique nickname, the Gryphons, beat Jefferson to start the season. The Gryphons then dropped a 32-30 nail biter to Newsome High last weekend. East Bay is challenged to rebuild after last season’s 10-2 mark, and Sickles will provide a tough road game in Tampa. The Indians are looking for continued rushing performance from senior Jaelin Sneed and another good offensive game from newcomers junior quarterback William Boyd and junior running back Anthony Laurent.