By FRANCIS FEDOR
Sumner won their fourth in a row with a solid 46-28 road win over the Gaither Cowboys. The Stingrays have had successful starts in each of their previous three seasons but never started 4-0. The hot start has the team making a move in various rankings. They are ranked #131 for the state of Florida and #20 for the Florida Division 4M bracket. They are tied with Riverview for tops in the 4M District 8 standings that include Durant (3-1) and Newsome (1-2). The Stingrays travel to Durant on Sept. 29 for a marquee game that will be one to watch. Durant has provided Sumner their first loss in two of their first three seasons and if the ‘Rays can defeat Wharton at home on Friday, Sumner will have an opportunity to get over what feels like the Cougar curse.
The Stingrays scored first as has been their MO this season with senior QB Greg Smith III punching it in from the 1-yard line. It was the beginnings of a 427-yard night for the offense. The passing game was on target for a number of big plays including an 89-yard strike from QB Smith to WR Malik Brown, his first of two TD catches on the night, with the other coming on the next offensive series as a 19-yard hookup. Smith also connected twice with his tallest target, Tyler Williams, for TD connections of 64 and 42 yards. The passing offense racked up 329 yards on the Cowboy defense. Devin Spencer led the rushing attack with 36 yards on the ground with one TD. The Sumner defense has been stingy so far this season but Gaither dented the defense for 354 yards in their first test against solid competition. The Stingray defense did force three turnovers that prevented the Cowboys from adding to their total yardage and finished off the win.
The Stingrays return to the “Tank” on Friday, Sept. 22, to face the Wharton Wildcats and will look to move to 5-0. Wharton comes into the game with a 2-1 record narrowly defeating Gaither on Sept. 9 for a home win and trounced Plant City 50-3 the previous week, also at home. The only blemish to the Wildcats record is a 34-20 loss on the road at Jesuit to open the season. The Wildcats will be a good test for the Stingrays and give the ‘Rays a chance to tighten up the defense against a tougher opponent prior to traveling to Durant.