Eleven former Spartans on collegiate football rosters

From Eastern Washington to the Dakotas, former Sumner High School student athletes are making names for themselves while continuing their education.

The recent Friday night success of Sumner High football players has translated to the world of Saturday afternoons, as 11 former Spartans were on the roster of collegiate programs this fall.

Five of those athletes are true freshmen, having graduated with the Sumner High class of 2018. Five more hail from the class of 2017 and one is from 2016. Of the 11 players on four-year rosters, eight are found on the offensive side of the ball.

Here’s a quick look at the elite 11 who matriculated through the Spartan program run by head coach Keith Ross and were provided an opportunity to play at the next level.

BEN WILSON

Sumner High class of 2018, linebacker, Texas Christian University.

After a dominant career with the Spartans – he was the No. 1-ranked linebacker in the state and No. 18 nationally – Wilson packed his bags for Fort Worth, Texas, and the TCU campus.

Seeing playing time as a true freshman, Wilson recorded two tackles and recovered a fumble during the Horned Frogs’ season opener against Southern University. He assisted on a stop against Kansas State and had solo tackles in the final two games against big-time opponents Baylor and Oklahoma State.

The Horned Frogs went 4-5 in Big 12 Conference play and 6-6 overall. Wilson and his teammates will finish the season Dec. 26 with a Cheez-It Bowl appearance against Cal’s Golden Bears.

TRE WEED

Sumner High class of 2018, wide receiver/special teams, Eastern Washington University.

Through games of last week, each of the Eagles’ 23 true freshmen – including the versatile Weed – had retained his redshirt status. If things do not change, all would have another four years of collegiate eligibility.

Coach Aaron Best and his staff are keeping close watch on the Eagle newbies, having made a decision each will play only when mentally and physically ready for the rigors of Division I football. Weed was the first of the 23 newcomers to see playing time.

In the EWU opener against Central Washington, Weed returned four punts. He also saw action Sept. 8 at Northern Arizona and in a pair of home games, Oct. 6 against Southern Utah and Nov. 10 against UC-Davis.

During those four games, Weed returned six punts for 64 yards and, from his safety position, recorded one solo tackle and one assist (both in the game against UC-Davis).

Weed headed to the Cheney, Washington, campus after a stellar Spartan career that concluded with him being named the 12th best collegiate prospect in the state of Washington by both 247sports.com and scout.com.

He has enjoyed continued team success at EWU, where the Eagles went 9-2 this year and shared the Big Sky Conference title. The team began the FCS playoffs with a Dec. 1 victory over Nicholls State and, last Saturday in the quarterfinals, defeated UC-Davis.

LUKE ROSS

Sumner High class of 2018, quarterback, Valley City State University.

After leading the Spartans to the state 4A semifinals during both his junior and senior seasons, Ross is redshirting this season for the Vikings. He will have four years of eligibility for a program that finished this season 6-4 overall and 5-2 in league play.

He has been assigned No. 17 and is listed by the Vikings at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds.

The Vikings, who make their home in Valley City, North Dakota compete at the NAIA level as part of the North Star Athletic Association. The league’s eight members are located throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa.

TORBEN DEESE

Sumner High class of 2018, defensive line, Claremont McKenna College.

Deese was part of a Stags program that won its first league title in 31 years and made an appearance in the Division III playoffs. The experience was short-lived, as the team trekked to Spokane, Washington, only to fall to Whitworth College.

Deese, who wears No. 70 for the Stags, is listed at 6-2 and 240 pounds. He played in all 11 games for Claremont this season, registering six solo tackles, 10 assists and 1.5 tackles for loss.

AUSTIN ROTH

Sumner High class of 2018, offensive line, South Dakota School of Mines. Now playing for the Hardrockers and wearing No. 57, he is listed by the university at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds (or 6-5 and 300, depending upon the source).

Roth started nine games for the Hardrockers, who finished the season with an overall record of 5-6 and went 4-6 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play.

The South Dakota college is located in Rapid City and participates at the NCAA Division II level.

CONNOR WEDINGTON

Sumner High class of 2017, wide receiver, Stanford University.

Following a breakout season as a freshman, injuries caught up with the athletic former Spartan. During the 2017 campaign, Wedington played in all 13 Cardinal games, caught 31 passes, carried the ball three times and finished with 306 all-purpose yards.

This year, the 6-foot, 198-pound wide receiver was hurt in the season opener and missed seven games. He had one catch and returned two punts in the season-opening victory over San Diego State, went in the injured list, then returned Nov. 3 to haul in three receptions during a loss to the Washington Huskies and three more during a victory over Oregon State the following week.

The question now is if the Stanford coaching staff will close the book on Wedington’s season, allowing him to redshirt and retain three more years of eligibility. Contacted by email last week, the Stanford sports information office replied, “this is still undecided.”

Following his final season at Sumner, Wedington was considered the state’s third-best recruit by Scout and Rivals, fifth by 247Sports and sixth by ESPN and PrepStar.

TYSON RAINWATER

Sumner High class of 2017, wide receiver, Central Washington University.

After redshirting his first year in Ellensburg, Rainwater has made an impact this season. He had catches in eight games and scored three touchdowns. Among the highlights were five grabs against the formidable Eastern Washington Eagles and two TDs against Humboldt State.

In all, Rainwater had 16 catches for 193 yards, helping the Wildcats to an impressive 8-3 season record, which included a 7-1 mark, good for a co-championship in the Great Northern Athletic Association.

JACOB CLARK

Sumner High class of 2017, offensive line, Carroll College. Clark spent the season as a backup right tackle for the Helena, Montana, college. While he saw no playing time this year, offensive line coach Tony Arntson said “we will look for him to contribute in a big way next fall.”

Clark, who wears No. 79 at Carroll College, was on redshirt status during his first year (2017) in Helena.

The Fighting Saints, members of the Frontier Conference, finished the season with a 4-6 Frontier record and went 5-6 overall.

SETH CARNAHAN

Sumner High class of 2017, offensive line, University of Idaho.

Listed by the Vandals at 6-7 and 281 pounds, Carnahan was initially a grayshirt (meaning he delayed his enrollment at the university until the second semester of the 2017-18 academic year) and played in four games this season. He was used primarily on special teams and saw some playing time as a reserve offensive lineman.

The Vandals’ sports information office reported that Carnahan is expected to use this fall as his redshirt season. Under NCAA rules, an athlete can participate in four games and maintain his redshirt status. “We did not travel him to the final game of the year to ensure that he did not play in a fifth game,” the football staff reported in an email.

The Vandals finished 4-7 overall this season (3-5 in the Big Sky Conference).

CHASE SKUZA

Sumner High class of 2017, offensive line, University of Washington.

After earning Sumner’s Distinguished Athlete Award as a high school senior, Skuza headed north to Seattle, where he redshirted his first season, thus retaining a year of eligibility. The 6-6, 306 Skuza did not see any action this season for the Huskies, who finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, won the Pac-12 North title and will play Ohio State in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl.

KOLBY NIKOLIASEN

Sumner High class of 2016, defensive back, Pacific University.

During the recently-completed season, the former Spartan participated in nine games for the Boxers. From his defensive back position Nikoliasen was credited with 26 tackles, 21 of those being solo efforts, and recorded three sacks. Showing his versatility, he also forced two fumbles, blocked a kick and had one punt return.

Nikoliasen played in all 10 Pacific games as a freshman, credited with 38 tackles. He had a career day against Willamette, recording 10 tackles and forcing a fumble, which he recovered.

The 5-10, 175-pound junior is a two-way athlete for the Boxers. Aside from football, he keeps busy with the track and field program; as a freshman, he won the pole vault competition at the Northwest Conference championships, where he also ran a leg on the Pacific 4100 meter relay.

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