Hawks believe state title game is in the future


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The Viera Hawks have big expectations for the 2019 football season.

CARL KOTALA

It’s been four years since the Viera High School football team played for the Class 7A state championship.

And the Hawks have been trying to get back there ever since.

“Everybody always asks that question … what’s your measuring stick?” Viera coach Derek Smith said.

“And everybody wants to say, ‘I want to get better than the last game.’ No. My measuring stick is, did we get to the state championship (game) or not? If we didn’t, then I need to keep working to do it.”

The Hawks are feeling pretty good about their chances to get back to this year’s title game, and they have some big reasons why.

Cooper Davis, Jamari Lyons, Jackson Hatfield and JuJu Barfield — along with Tyler Cooley —  form a defensive line that could be among the best in the state.

On the other side of the ball, Andrew Hart, Cooper Liston, Tyler Matas, Colben Maher, Justin Humpries and Brady Touzet will combine to give Viera a talented offensive line that should open up some running lanes for running backs T.J. Johnson and Jalen Housey.

Quarterback Bryce Norton is coming off a sophomore season in which he passed for more than 3,000 yards and ran for more than 1,000, becoming the first quarterback to accomplish that feat since Tim Tebow in 2005.

The biggest question mark going into this season will be at receiver after the graduation of record-breakers Sean Atkins and Shamaar Mohr. The Hawks will look to newcomer Davis Mallinger along with Caleb Osburn, Jeremiah Housey, Donovan Giles and Jarvelle Francis to fill the void.

Defensively, Danny Steen will lead a linebacking group that includes Zach Taylor, D’Andre Lewis, Connor Kennedy and Jalen Housey.

Sedaros, who had a chance to learn from some upper classmen last year, will anchor a secondary that includes Kato Holmes and Bryce Reynolds.

“I’ve learned a lot, especially from (former teammate) Garrett Kaminski, as far as communicating, knowing the calls, knowing what we need to be in to be successful and not give up big plays,” Sedaros said.

“You’ve got to make sure everybody’s on the same page. You’ve got to communicate. I enjoy doing that a lot.”

If the defensive line plays the way it’s capable of, it should help make Viera’s linebackers and secondary more effective. And with opposing offenses expected to pay a lot of attention to Davis, a Missouri commit who had 21 sacks last season, it could free up Barfield to have a monster season on the other side.

“I’ve improved a lot,” Barfield said. “I would say my hands and my speed off the ball have gotten way faster than they were last year.”

With a strong defense and an offense that should get better as the year goes on, the Hawks believe this could be the year they get another crack at a state title, though they play in one of the state’s toughest classifications.

Defending state champion Lakeland and traditional powerhouse Armwood — new to Class 7A this season — are both in Viera’s region.

“I think we can go there because the way we are on the field, we’re really aggressive,” Barfield said. “We watch our film. We pay attention to the game. We’re really focused. We all have the determination and the will to go there.

“… I think we can.”