BROOKSVILLE — Sift through the transcripts of every presidential debate waged so far, and you're unlikely to find a statement as clear, compelling and with as little risk of being refuted as the one Nature Coast made Friday night.
Beneath a full moon, the Sharks (6-0) went full throttle, overwhelming traditional North Suncoast nemesis South Sumter in every facet en route to a 41-14 rout.
To say the win avenged last season's double-overtime loss to the Raiders (6-1) would be limited.
This was more than atonement, this was affirmation — against one of the state's premier Class 2A programs.
"This shows that we are the No. 1 team on the schedule," senior Mike Fields said, "and that we can come out here and play with the big boys."
Fields (six catches, 125 yards, two TDs, one INT) was among a legion of stalwarts for the Sharks, who collected 453 total yards and held the Raiders' no-huddle, ball-control attack to 156 yards on the ground.
"We were relentless today," Fields said.
And bold to the challenge. The tone for the night may have been set on the Sharks' first drive of the second quarter, when coach Jamie Joyner went for it on fourth and 1 from his own 44.
Junior tailback Tevin Drake converted with room to spare, and five plays later, Danny Colon nailed a 20-yard field goal to give his team a 3-0 lead.
"Our boys wanted to run the ball," Joyner said. "I guess the statement is, when we need a first down we'll go get it."
From there, the group effort flourished. Drake and Antwan Story combined for 190 rushing yards, the defense registered at least four sacks, quarterback C.J. Baker totaled 260 yards and the receivers caught seemingly everything.
Including a break.
South Sumter sustained a major blow when senior quarterback Denzel Smith was knocked from the game with an apparent right foot injury while scrambling toward the end zone on his team's first possession of the second half.
The Raiders scored from a yard out on the next play to trim their deficit to 17-14, but it's unlikely Smith's presence could have neutralized the avalanche of Sharks offense to come.
Nature Coast scored on four of its next five possessions, taking a 20-14 lead on Colon's 39-yard field goal and a 27-14 advantage on Baker's 78-yard TD strike to Fields.
"A big point in the game is (Smith) going out; you can't overlook that," Joyner said.
"But our guys played a full 48 minutes. We had to come out here and capitalize on their mistakes when they made turnovers. And we played great defense tonight and offensively we were able to move the ball throwing and running."