Sumner High School Stingrays team photo.

The Sumner Stingrays hope to continue their incredible run in year three of the program’s history after going 9-3 and earning a playoff berth in 2021. The team went 7-1 in its inaugural season two years ago.

The Stingrays shocked Bloomingdale and put the rest of Hillsborough County on notice in week one with a convincing 44-32 road win.  

Junior star quarterback Greg Smith was impressive, completing 13 of 20 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The dual-threat signal caller also added 82 rushing yards on 23 carries and a score on the ground. It’s the Carrollwood Day transfer’s second year leading the Sumner offense. Expect him to have a record-breaking season.

Third-year head coach Alonzo Ashwood was an assistant at Hillsborough High School for 14 years and was the head coach for Middleton High School for three seasons.

The Stingrays run a multiple-look, pro-style offense that’s versatile and will feature many different formations. The old-school Ashwood doesn’t believe in airing the ball out every play and wants the pass-run ratio to be around 60:40. He runs different formations depending on what the defense shows, from shotgun to I-formation with two tight ends. Sumner will have to improve its offensive line play to take the next step.

Key players on offense feature sophomore receiver Tyler Williams, who had six catches for 169 yards, including a 50-yard catch against the Bulls, and junior running back Devin Spencer, who scored a rushing touchdown and also recorded seven tackles on defense. Difference makers on defense include senior linebacker Keoni Denny, who recorded eight tackles (six solo) and one tackle for loss in week one; sophomore defensive back Jaidon Walker, who snagged an interception; senior linebacker Al’Vondre Lewis had a sack and three tackles; and senior defensive end Mekhi Slater will get after the quarterback.

Sumner has a tough schedule, having to face Gaither, Wharton, Durant and Newsome. The Stingrays have a great chance to win their district if they can beat Newsome and Durant, which is no easy task, but beating Bloomingdale shows them, and the rest of the county for that matter, that they can compete with anybody.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.