By FRANCIS FEDOR
The Sumner High School Stingrays rolled to a 49-8 victory over Newsome on Friday night, Oct. 27, in The Tank on Senior Night to close out their home portion of the schedule. The Stingrays (8-1 overall, 2-1 in district play) travel to Middleton on Nov. 3 to play the Tigers for the final game of the regular season before setting their sights on 4M District 8 playoff action the following week. Durant leads the district standings with a 3-0 record, but is 8-2 overall. The ‘Rays have the best overall record in the district with their 8-1 record.
The pregame was a chance to honor all the senior players as they close out their Sumner careers. Many will have opportunities to play in a football program after they graduate. Some will be serving our country in the military. There will be more to come as the commitments become finalized. The student section dressed in pink for Breast Cancer awareness, and the band was seated outside of the bleachers for the second game in a row. It was a festive night, and the fan base was rewarded with a win that they hope was not the last one at the Tank for 2023.
Sumner opened the scoring, keeping alive the streak of opening every game by scoring first. Friday night’s game against Newsome saw the Stingrays assert their dominance early by putting up 43 points in the first half while holding the Wolves (2-7 overall, 0-3 district) scoreless until the fourth quarter. Senior Malik Brown and junior Tyler Williams are the receiving stars of the Sumner offense, and this game was no different. Both Brown and Williams scored two TD’s each by way of the pass. Brown had 116 receiving yards, and Tyler Williams added a three-yard rushing score. The Stingrays gave starting quarterback Greg Smith the second half off after he racked up 185 yards passing on the night, including five TD passes. Smith also contributed two tackles and one assist on defense. The blowout and running clock offered the opportunity to get backup QB Mikalen Troyer some live action as Layton Kennison, who opened the season as the backup on the depth chart, is sidelined with an injury. Troyer went three-for-three in pass completions for 33 yards. The defense, which has stepped up in the past few weeks, held the Wolves to only eight first downs and didn’t allow a Newsome score until the fourth quarter, when Eli Hiscock found the end-zone on a two-yard run. Stingray linebacker Jaheim Hudson had nine assists to lead the defense.
The ‘Rays are on a roll as the season winds to an end with a three-game winning streak. Sumner will look to take care of business at 4-5 Middleton, who are 3-0 in a relatively weak district bracket, and then wait for the FHSAA to make its decisions as to who will get a playoff berth. The Stingrays are ranked #79 in all of Florida and #12 Florida 4M grouping and #14 for the Tampa region. The Alonzo Ashwood-led team, with a strong compliment of experienced coaches, has had an outstanding season. The only blemish being the Durant game, which was impacted by rain and forced the ‘Rays to play the conclusion back at Durant the next day with very little rest; it was decided on the last play of the game. As it currently stands, they appear to have earned the right to play in the post season and will hope that the FHSAA rewards them for their hard work and commitment to success.
Special thanks to Karis Fedor for contributing to this write-up.