Sumner's success derived from hard work

of the HeraldJanuary 1, 2014 

There is a reason why the Sumner Spartans’ football team has won 20 games in the past two seasons.

Head coach Keith Ross, who recently was named the West Central District III Coach of the Year, is a big believer in his players utilizing the weight room in order to improve their skills, and it was evident during the final week of December.

While most high school athletes were enjoying down time and relaxing with family and friends, close to 20 Spartans football players woke up for 9 a.m. weightlifting sessions at Sunset Chev Stadium. The Spartans lifted on Monday, Thursday and Saturday during Christmas week.

Ross, who paced around the weight room and shouted instructions while he sipped on a 20-ounce cup of coffee, said lifting has been a priority of his program for the long haul.

The Spartans have won back-to-back South Puget Sound League 2A titles because of their physicality. Quarterback Chase Torgison and wide receiver Tristan Wedington were a lethal combination this season, but the Spartans’ bread and butter has been their ability to run the football and stop the run.

The Spartans’ mantra was evident all season as running backs Brandon “Juice” Tuileapa and DeJon Lynch each rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

“Ground and pound is our motto, and we stick with it, no matter what,” Tuilaepa said after Sumner’s 28-14 victory against W.F. West in the first round of the state playoffs. “It’s nothing too fancy, it’s just smash-mouth football.”

That kind of mindset started in the Sumner High School weight room, and it translated onto the field.

It’s quite fitting that the weight room is located at Sunset Chev Stadium. When players walk into the front gate on game day, they know they’ve put in the work and the hours in order to be successful.

That is the definition of a confidence builder.

Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.

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