Sunlake is off to a strong start to the season thanks to fast starts in all three of its games.
The Seahawks (3-0, 1-0) racked up 20 points in the first quarter against Hudson, 20 against Wiregrass Ranch and 21 last week against Springstead.
“We’re starting fast and furious, which is something we like to do,” coach Bill Browning said.
Those early offensive fireworks have been more than enough for Sunlake’s defense. The Seahawks have allowed only 16 points all season — the lowest total on the North Suncoast — heading into Friday’s game against Mitchell (3-1, 0-1) in a District 6A-6 battle.
The offensive and defensive lines have paved the way for Sunlake’s success. The defensive front has allowed only one rushing touchdown all season, while the offensive line — led by tackle turned center Nate McCoole — has given up only one sack.
Quarterback Cameron Stoltz (10 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) and athlete Rashaud Daniels have played well, but the biggest surprise last week was Jerome Samuels.
Browning said before the year that the 6-foot-2 senior had to get the ball more this fall. Samuels touched the ball more against Springstead — and responded with 115 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He leads the team with 284 rushing yards.
“Coming into the program, he barely knew what a football looked like,” Browning said. “He’s just really developed. His potential’s unlimited.”
The Seahawks got off to a fast start last fall, too, before struggling late. Sunlake opened the year with seven consecutive wins before losing to Land O’Lakes and Pasco in back-to-back weeks to fall out of the playoff hunt.
Browning said the team’s returning players learned from that experience, which could propel them to the program’s first postseason appearance this fall.
“We want to keep winning,” Browning said. “Win and the next one gets a little bigger.”
Staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.