The Sumner Spartans’ 2012 football season was memorable for all the right reasons.
The Spartans won nine games and advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals before they lost to the eventual state-champion Lynden Lions.
With the bulk of last year’s starters returning, expectations for this fall are sky high.
The Sumner program will no longer be able to sneak up on people, and that is just the way head coach Keith Ross likes it.
Ross believes wholeheartedly in a ground-and-pound philosophy that punishes opposing teams’ defenses with pure physicality. Last year’s star running back, Lokahi Kamau, may have graduated, but the cupboard is far from bare. Seasoned running backs DeJon Lynch and Brandon Tuilaepa will be one of the best backfield duos in the 2A classification.
The passing game will be potent as well with third-year starting quarterback Chase Torgison putting the ball on the money to No. 1 receiver Triston Wedington.
Wedington has emerged as the Spartans’ top receiver during spring and summer workouts. As talented as the offense is, the defense may even eclipse that side of the ball when it comes to raw talent.
There isn’t a weakness as middle linebacker Austin Striplin, who is being recruited by a several different colleges, calls the signals and leads the stingy defense.
Ross said defensive lineman Victor Padilla plays with more passion than anyone he’s ever coached. In the secondary, Tuilaepa is a hard-hitting free safety who also is adept at plucking interceptions from other teams’ signal callers.
The Spartans didn’t rest on its laurels or press clippings over the summer. Nearly 75 players attend 8 a.m. weightlifting sessions at Sunset Chev Stadium three times a week during June and July. I witnessed a few of them and saw how hard the Spartans pushed themselves.
The time is now. Since I started at The Herald in November 2007, the only football program I’ve seen reach the Tacoma Dome for the state tournament semifinals or finals has been Class 1A Cascade Christian. I expect the Spartans to at least reach the 2A semis this year.
Having a talented team with a top-notch work ethic will pay dividends for them.
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.