By FRANCIS FEDOR
The Sumner Stingrays took control of their destiny with a 40-7 dominance of the Riverview Sharks at the Tank on Sumner HS Homecoming night, Friday, Oct. 14.
With a fall feel in the air, the ‘Rays welcomed back star QB Greg Smith III and reestablished themselves as the team to beat in the South Shore. It didn’t take long for the Stingrays to get on the scoreboard. As has been their modis operandi this season, they won the toss and deferred. Special teams got a huge block on a Sharks’ FG attempt after Riverview marched down the field and stalled at the Sumner 15-yard line and changed the early momentum of the game. Sumner took the field for its first drive, and Greg Smith hooked up with Malik Brown on an 80-yard pass play that went for the Stingrays first score to ignite the crowd. Brown finished the game with 175 yards receiving. The ‘Rays have scored first in every game this season. The gravity of the game, outside of a huge crowd that had the band seated on the field to make additional room in the bleachers for an overflow crowd between the two rivals, was highlighted by the visit of scouts from the University of Virginia, West Virginia University and a few others that weren’t easily identifiable. The visit was no doubt an opportunity for the colleges to get a look at Greg Smith and Devin Spencer, both seniors, who are having great seasons and HS careers. It is a tribute to the program that HeadCoach Alonzo Ashwood has built at the school, which has served as the cornerstone for Sumner athletics.
The Sharks took advantage of their own special teams play and blocked a Sumner punt to set up their offense in Sumner territory and cashed the field position in for their first, and only, TD of the night to tie the score at 7’s as the first quarter wound down. But the Stingray’s were not done with taking advantage of the long ball, and Greg Smith connected with Malik Brown again for a long TD. With a defender in the face of Brown, he maintained focus and hauled it in for the score. Smith and Brown had tried to connect two plays earlier, but the ball went through Brown’s hands. However, the Stingray coaches went right back and trusted Brown to make the play. Devin Spencer got on the score-sheet as the half closed with his own dynamic play to move the Stingray lead to 19-7, and that’s how the half ended.
The Stingrays essentially put the game away on the first play of the second half with another Smith to Brown hook-up that went 80 plus yards for the score and the rout was on. There were a few moments on the field where the emotion got the best of the players, but the coaching staff reminded the team to stay focused on the goal. The defense played its best game after a couple of tough outings vs. Durant and Lennard, only surrendering 147 total yards. It was a great night for the Stingray program as the team showed that it continues to be the program against which all of the other South Shore teams will measure themselves.
Newsome will visit the Tank next, on Friday, Oct. 28, (Sumner has a bye this week) as we march towards Halloween and the HS football playoff season. The Stingrays will use a bye week to refresh and work on getting ready for the last two games of the season. They will close the regular season at Middleton on Nov. 3 and look for the FHSAA playoff brackets to come out. Sumner, Riverview and Durant all are 1-loss teams in the FHSAA 4M District 8 bracket, with Durant holding the top spot with a 2-0 district record. Playoff football is right around the corner, but last Friday night at the Tank had that playoff feel to it, and it looks like the Stingrays are back on track.
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