Experienced Hawks ready to chase another district title


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Viera hopes to win its fourth consecutive district title this season.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

They’ve grown together as football players.

They’ve grown together as young men.

And now, as the Viera High football team kicks off the 2017 season, 23 seniors will strap on their helmets and make one last run together.

“It’s real special because we’ve all been together for so long,” senior linebacker David Eaton said. “We’re a tight-knit group. We do everything together. We just went rock climbing. It’s a real close team. We’re like a family.”

With that many seniors, and 15 returning starters, the Hawks would certainly seem poised to claim what would be a fourth consecutive district championship and, potentially, another deep run into the playoffs.

Led by returning first-team all-state linebacker Brandon Mays — who recently committed to Army West Point — Viera’s defense should once again be among the best in the county.

Second-team all-state pick Miguel Rodriguez anchors a defensive line that includes James Klaas on the other side and Mike Buccieri and Cooper Davis on the inside.

The linebacker group that consists of Mays, Brock Holland, Eaton and Kyler Doane might be the strongest and most experienced unit on the team.

In the secondary, Garrett Kaminsky, Cortez Reid and Trey Schaneville will be helped out by the addition of newcomer Qunelius Phillips.

Offensively, the Hawks’ up-tempo offense will provide a big challenge for opponents, especially with Fordham-bound quarterback Tim DeMorat leading the way.

A deep running back group that includes Jaren Lewis, Nate DePlancke and Andre Jones will help keep the chains moving, along with a talented trio of wide receivers in Quinton Russack-Cradeur, Travis Jones and Sean Atkins.

Bear Bollinger and Davis will line up at tight end and, of course, it all starts up front with an experienced offensive line that includes Gavin Lamp, Gio Allen, Hunter Plotkin, Chris Murphy and Max Lawson.

Punter Max Pacheaco and Schaneville at kicker give the Hawks a huge advantage on special teams.

If there is one concern the Hawks do have coming into this season, it would have to be their overall depth.

“Our strength is the experience we have coming back,” Mays said. “Our ones are prepared and ready to go. My concern is the younger guys being ready if something happens.”

Viera’s schedule will be tough. After playing Vero Beach in the Kickoff Classic, the Hawks opened (on Aug. 25) against a much-improved Rockledge team before traveling to Washington D.C. to play Gonzaga and returning for a stretch against Osceola, Merritt Island and Cocoa before opening district action against an improved Melbourne.

“If we can get through the first six weeks healthy, I’ll feel blessed,” Mays said. “We’ve got six tough ones right in a row. And then we start district, which is always tough.” VV