Viera still a football force despite losses to graduation


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Viera running back Brennen DePlancke is a big reason why the Hawks are in better shape than most people think. Viera was the state runner-up in Class 7A last season.

photo by carl kotala

There’s no question the Viera Hawks will have some holes to fill before football season begins next fall.

After all, they will have lost star receivers Tre Nixon and Alex Cabrera, quarterback Hayden Kingston, plus defensive backs Jamyson Boyd, Trevor Merritt, Evan Cruz and Malek Folston to graduation.

But as the Hawks go through their spring practice — it began April 25 — the situation isn’t as dire as it may seem.

“We’re better off than I think a lot of people think,” coach Kevin Mays said. “…Now, is it going to be hard to replace Tre, Alex and Hayden? Absolutely. Is it going to be hard to replace those DBs? Yeah. But we’re not as bad off as people think.”

People will be able to see for themselves on May 18, when Viera will host Spruce Creek in its spring game at 7 p.m.

For one thing, the Hawks return virtually their entire front seven on defense, including defensive end Marco Foreman and linebacker Brandon Mays, who were selected Class 7A all-state first team by Floridahsfootball.com. Defensive end Miguel Rodriguez was a second-team all-state pick.

“I definitely expect our front seven on defense to be the anchor of the team this year,” Coach Mays said. “That’s where our experience is.”

Offensively, Viera returns four starters up front — Jordan Romero, Dominic Dennelo, Austin Roberts and Lucas Delancey — plus running back Brennen DePlancke and receivers Quinton Richard and Donovan Jackson.

Keith Freeman, a transfer from Rockledge, will also be in the mix at running back.

After going unbeaten in the regular season two years ago, then advancing all the way to the Class 7A state title game last season, the Hawks have emerged as one of the top programs in the county.

Who said the cupboard is bare?

“It’s false,” Foreman said. “Everyone is doubting us and they think those were our prime years. Well, that’s not true. We still have the same coaches. We also have a lot of players that are still here, and we still have leadership.”

What the Hawks are going to have to find, of course, is a new quarterback. Because of all the players they have to replace, Kingston may be the toughest.

Stepping up to that challenge will be rising sophomore Sean Atkins and rising junior Seth Kennedy.

The two quarterbacks will compete into the fall.

“One is not way ahead of the other right now,” Mays said.

Whoever does not start at quarterback, will likely start in the secondary where they will join experienced returner Will Champion.

With that much talent coming back, the Hawks should be better than most people think. How good? Those questions will start to be answered this spring.