The Sumner High School football team’s defense might not be the best in the state, but if not, it’s close.
No. 3 Sumner held No. 10 Franklin Pierce to 94 total yards of offense, six through the air, as the Spartans rolled to a 28-6 South Puget Sound League 2A victory Friday night at Franklin Pierce High.
Sumner (5-0; 3-0 SPSL) has held four of its five opponents to seven points or less.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and this is one of the top defenses I’ve ever had,” Keith Ross said. “They’re hungry, they study during the week and they don’t like giving up points.”
Sumner did all its scoring in the first half and was stymied offensively in the second. Its scintillating running back Dejon Lynch had six carries for 52 yards and a touchdown in the first half but did not play the second because of a left big toe injury.
But with a stout defense led by linebacker Austin Striplin, Sumner was able to contain a normally solid Franklin Pierce running game and essentially eliminate the pass.
Franklin Pierce quarterback Daniel Wheelock completed 2 of 12 passes for six yards and threw two interceptions.
With that kind of defensive effort, on the road against a top-10 team, it’s hard not to make a case for Sumner having the best defense in Class 2A.
“The only thing that scares me is that we are a little undersized. But athletic-wise and speed-wise, yes,” Ross said of his defense’s capability of matching with any 2A offense. “We’ll have to see if anyone can line up and be physical and run the ball on us. But we are really athletic and really fast.”
Senior Brandon Tuilaepa said the Spartans make up for their size with every other facet of their game.
“We know we aren’t blessed with the biggest size,” said Tuilaepa, who is 5-foot-11, 195 pounds. He ran for 77 yards and a TD on Friday. “But we believe that we have enough heart and speed to make up for it.”
Sumner built a 28-0 first-half lead because of some costly mistakes from Franklin Pierce.
After Sumner threw an interception, the Cardinals gave it right back with an interception that Sumner’s Josh Riley returned 55-yards for a TD and a 14-0 lead.
With less than a minute before halftime and Sumner looking to add to its 21-0 lead, Sumner quarterback Chase Torgison dropped back, but was sacked by Franklin Pierce’s Dakota Smith for a 12-yard loss that would have set up a long third down.
But the officials said Torgison’s facemask was grabbed, which put the ball in Cardinals territory. Franklin Pierce had 13 penalties for 120 yards.
The next play, Torgison found Austin Gregg wide open near the goal line for a 47-yard TD pass with 28 seconds left.
It was Gregg’s first catch and touchdown of the season after a near-fatal accident during the summer involving an all-terrain vehicle. He was named to the all-SPSL first-team as a sophomore last year.