SLIDESHOW: SHS FOOTBALL: Sparts whisper title
September 1, 2010 · Updated 9:06 AM
Although it’s been several months, Sumner High’s football squad hopes to feed off the late-season run it made in 2009 – the Spartans are hungry for a league title and postseason play.
“Where Unstoppable Starts” is the theme.
The 2010 campaign gets under way at 7 p.m. Thursday at Auburn Memorial Stadium against Auburn Mountainview.
It’s a fitting start since it was the Spartans’ Oct. 21 victory over the Lions that sparked the wave of momentum. The Spartans, winless to that point, won three of their last four contests to finish at 3-7 overall.
Coach Keith Ross, starting his ninth year at the helm, thinks the Spartans’ maturity, experience, offseason work ethic and move to the South Puget Sound League 2A will make a difference.
“Things are really looking up here at Sumner,” Ross said.
“We’re talking league champs, which we usually don’t talk about, but we’re talking about it this year,” Ross said.
It’s literally a whole new league for Sumner.
The Spartans, along with fellow SPSL 3A Clover Park, Franklin Pierce and White River, make the move to the SPSL 2A classification this fall. Rounding out the league will be former Nisqually League members Eatonville, Fife, Steilacoom and Washington.
“It should be a pretty good race this first year,” Ross said. “There’s no clear-cut favorite like Lakes.”
“Fife and Eatonville have been great double-A teams.”
The smaller classification isn’t hampering turnout. When all is said and done, Ross expects 85 on the field, many freshmen and sophomores who will get their experience on the C-team, but 18 returning starters in key positions.
Running offensive coordinator Mike Ernaga’s offense will be 6-foot-4, 190-pound Aaron Clark. The junior has been barking signals for the Spartans for the past two years.
“We’re looking at him to be the best quarterback in the league,” Ross said.
He’ll have an experience line to protect him.
“They’re all back,” Ross said, including all-league, second-team, senior Sean Dorfler. “All six are back and bigger and stronger.”
Clark will have a strong receiving group, Ross said – one of the deepest in recent history. A group of veterans will be joined by twin-tower transfers Dan and Dave DeVries.
But the Spartans’ strength will be its defense with three-year starter, senior Cody Haavik at linebacker.
Haavik, a 5-10, 190-pound, first-team, all-league selection led the league in tackles with 112, was second in sacks and third in tackles for loss.
“He knows the defense as well as I do,” said Ross, who serves as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Defensive lineman Ben Taua, a three-year starter, currently sideline with an ankle sprain, also returns, as does Tyler Salisbury at linebacker.
Back this year are also Joey Ziegler, who started as a sophomore, and sat out last season with a back injury, and Talis Abolins, who started as a sophomore but took last year off to concentrate on his advanced studies. He was a two-way starter and kick returner.
If there’s a downside, it’s the loss of all-league punter Zach Powers who moved to Virginia. But special teams will be boosted by the return of senior Peter Marth, who in addition to receiving and defensive back duties, returns kicks and punts.