Sumner High was believed to be capable of a top-three finish in the 3A South Puget Sound League, but a recent surge has the Spartans sitting alone at the top of the league standings.
After Sumner (6-0, 4-0 league) dismantled Auburn, 42-21, on Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium, and with Auburn Mountainview overcoming Lakes, 46-42, the Spartans are now alone atop the standings.
“We’re a little better team (than last year),” Sumner coach Keith Ross said. “Last year the little mistakes would derail us. But they don’t derail us right now because we’re good on offense, we’re good on defense and we’re great on special teams. We’re dangerous all over the field.”
Auburn Mountainview (5-1, 3-1) is in second ahead of Lakes (5-1, 3-1) after the Lions’ comeback win over the Lancers. Sumner is in the driver’s seat for the league title and can pretty much secure it with a win over Lakes this Friday at home.
On Friday, it was an explosive offensive attack, again, which proved too much for a Sumner opponent. Connor Wedington and the ground game gashed Auburn.
“It’s all about the blocking,” Wedington said of Sumner’s offensive line dominance of Auburn. “The blocking was good and the linemen did good, and that’s what happens when I get my blocks.”
What happened was Wedington gashing Auburn for 170 yards on 15 carries with two long touchdowns of 38 and 79 yards. The junior also brought back a 70-yard punt return for a score that put Sumner up 14-0 early.
“There was a hole and then I got a couple of (key) blocks down the field and then I just got to outrun the final guy,” Wedington said of his 79-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that put Sumner up 42-14.
Last year, getting over that proverbial hump was an issue for Sumner as they slipped into a midseason skid in its first year in the 3A SPSL. This year it seems like it has been smooth sailing as Sumner keeps building its momentum each week.
“I knew that Mountainview would give Lakes a hard time just with their athletes,” Ross said. “We’re 6-0 and we’re healthy, we’re eligible and we’re getting better every week.”
No player exemplifies this progression better than quarterback Luke Ross, the coach’s son. With each week, the sophomore has become more confident in himself and his abilities on the field.
“I’m feeling more confident as the year goes on, and our receivers played great today ... it was a good team game,” Luke Ross said after the game.
No better example came when Ross (10 for 11, 132 yards) hooked up with tight end Jack McDonald on a 29-yard drag route for Sumner’s only passing touchdown in the third.
“It was a great throw by Luke and they were playing zone coverage,” McDonald said. “Tyson (Rainwater) had a great block that I took around the corner, around him for the score. It was a great play all around.”
Ross has two options on that play: McDonald underneath and receiver Tyson Rainwater over the top. Ross went for the smarter, safer pass to McDonald, but a vicious block by Rainwater allowed the tight end to easily score on the play.
“I was thinking I just need to help out the team. Let him get in the end zone,” Rainwater said of his block. “You just gotta do what you gotta do for the team.”
Puyallup 40, Spanaway Lake 20
For two and a half quarters, Puyallup High quarterback Nathaniel Holcomb looked sharp, completing 13 of 19 passes for over 200-plus yards. By all accounts, it looked the junior was right where he’s been lately, making plays and leading the Vikings to victory.
“Nathaniel looked good and poised out there,” coach Gary Jeffers said.
Then, about halfway through the third, Holcomb injured his knee and left the game. The injury’s severity was still being determined as of Monday afternoon.
“(The injury) made it more difficult than it need to be,” Jeffers said about the win at Art Crate Stadium. “We had to change things up a little bit after he went out.”
With a matchup against 4A SPSL top ranked Graham-Kapowsin (6-0, 4-0) on tap for Friday, Jeffers believes his Vikings can be ready for whatever the league favorites have to offer. As this season contests, anything can happen.
“In high school football, you always have a shot,” Jeffers said. “You have to believe that there’s always a chance to win any game.”