The Raiders from Bushnell are the only team outside of Pasco and Hernando Counties in Class 5A, District 6. But South Sumter has some history with North Suncoast teams — and a new chapter will start tonight when Zephyrhills travels to Bushnell in a big district showdown.
Here are five things to know about South Sumter:
1. Coach Inman Sherman is a legend. Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts compared Sherman to former Pasco County fixtures like John Benedetto and Tom Fisher. Sherman took over the program in 1984. Five years later, Roberts suited up for Zephyrhills and escaped Bushnell with a tough 33-7 win. Sherman has led the Raiders to 17 playoff appearances, five region finals and the 2005 state title game.
2. South Sumter has fared well against the North Suncoast. Before losing to Sunlake this season, Pasco’s last regular-season loss was a 32-7 defeat in Bushnell in 2009. The Raiders thumped Hernando 38-6 last year and have won five of their past six games against the North Suncoast.
3. The alumni list is long. Clinton Hart spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Chargers and others; Earl Everett was an all-SEC linebacker at Florida; Kendall Smith started at linebacker for two seasons at Florida State; Clenton Crossley ranks among the top 10 rushing attempt leaders in USF history.
4. The Raiders are rebuilding … In theory, at least. A decorated class of five players signed with colleges last signing day, including Keanu Neal, an Under Armour All-American defensive back who already has two tackles as a true freshman at Florida.
5. …But they’re loaded. Seniors Xavier Story, Brandon Anderson and Joey Mohler lead a defense that’s giving up only 165 yards per game. A large offensive line has opened up holes for running backs JT Taylor and Anderson Faulk, who’s averaging 127 yards and two touchdowns per game.