Skip to main content

BUSHNELL, FL – There was a time when the South Sumter Raiders were one of the most dominant football teams annually in the Central Florida region.

The Raiders last reached a state semifinal in 2016 when they made the Class 4A state semi against Jacksonville Bolles, eventually losing 31-24. Bolles lost to Cocoa that season, 31-17, in the Class 4A state title game. However, 2016 was the last time South Sumter won 10 or more games and now head coach Ty Lawrence and crew are wanting to take on all comers with one of his more talented teams to date.

“No. 1 over the last 25 years, we are the winningest football program in the 352 area code,” Lawrence said. “We always have high expectations and 2022 is no exception. We expect to get better every game and hit the playoffs without peaking yet.”

Lawrence has a bevy of seniors starting on each side of the ball, as Eian Finkley is slated to start at quarterback and he will have Jordan Everett and Elijiah Adams to throw to. Finkley will be handing off to running back Kaden Payne-Wright and Broc Kinley is the lone senior starter on the offensive line.

The front seven is a very experienced group, with senior linebackers Jawarren Corbin, Jackson Sovercool and Filberto Padraza. Sophomore Ja’Kyrian Turner brings a ton of speed, as he was the fastest at Florida State’s mega camp, per Lawrence.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of really good football players, young and old, Lawrence said. “We have seven players with Division I offers. Team has always been about what we are about at South Sumter High School. We always lean on our seniors first. We do have four 2025 players with Division I offers.”

When it comes down to the big debate over metro-suburban redistricting, you won’t find a bigger fan of it as a coach than Lawrence. He says he was one of the first to bring it up at a football advisory board meeting two years ago. Now the Raiders will once again play within a district and get to play for district titles. With South Sumter seeing teams like Cocoa annually, it was tough to bring home a region title.

“Love suburban/metro. I was actually the first guy to bring it up at football advisory board two years ago,” Lawrence said. “Nothing changes except who we would play round four and five. Plus we get our districts back.”

“I believe it is very important for our players to play for a district title. I was happy to look at Mitchell’s Twitter account and see how proud they are for their district titles. That is really cool to me. We still have to go through Cocoa in our region. They have a really good team.”

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.