Hawks poised for another big football season


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Viera High wide receiver Tré Nixon (yellow jersey) and cornerback Trevor Merritt have both caught the eye of college recruiters

photo by Carl Kotala

There were a lot of firsts for the Viera High football program last season.

The two biggest, of course, were the first unbeaten regular season and the first district title in school history.

But as the new season begins, this is a Viera team that still feels like it has something to prove, and still has history to make.

“We had a decent season last year,” senior cornerback Trevor Merritt said. “We shocked a few people. But we have a lot to prove still. We know we have the talent this year. We’re just ready to play.”

And play the Hawks will, against a schedule that looks like a who’s who list of Brevard County powerhouses. Cocoa. Palm Bay. Merritt Island. They’re all there. So is Lakeland Kathleen and Allen, Texas. Yes, Allen, Texas.

But as far as Hawks coach Kevin Mays is concerned there are really only three opponents that matter — Melbourne, Martin County and South Fork.

“As long as our guys keep an even head and feel good about what they’re doing going into these tougher games and don’t get tense, I think we can play with the teams that are on our schedule,” Mays said.

“We’ve talked all year about the games we have to concentrate on are the district games. That’s the games. As much as people want to look at some of the other games on the schedule, the district games are the ones that count. I told the seniors if they want the season to move on, those are the games you’ve got to win.”

As good as the Hawks were last year, they may be even more balanced this season thanks to the improvement of last year’s returners and an injection of new talent.

Quarterback Hayden Kingston is back, and heavily recruited receiver Tré Nixon figures to get plenty of attention. But the Hawks are deep at receiver with transfer Alex Cabrera, sophomore Quinton Richard and Don Jackson. Running back Zack Blanch is one of the more underrated players in the county. Up front, Viera will be led by Hunter Ulrich, Blake Ward and Brian Pickles.

Defensively, leading tackler Brandon Mays is back along with defensive linemen Marco Foreman and Justin Harrison and a defensive backfield that includes Merritt, Evan Cruz, Jay Boyd, Lance Reynolds and transfers Will Champion and Malek Folston.

By playing such a tough regular season schedule, the Hawks believe their next trip to the playoffs will be much better than last year’s 48-0 loss to Charlotte.

“That was a good thing that happened,” Merritt said. “We see that we can be knocked down. Now, we know how to get back up. That was a lot of motivation.”