New classifications challenge Viera, Holy Trinity


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Photo Carl Kotala

The Viera Hawks haven’t announced their schedule for the 2019 season yet, but this much we already know:

There will be some new faces and games at new places in the coming year.

The Holy Trinity Tigers, meanwhile, will have some new competition of their own when it comes to competing for a spot in the postseason.

Under the new FHSAA football classification and district alignment announced last month, the Hawks will compete in Class 7A, District 5 against Melbourne, Harmony, St. Cloud and Tohopekaliga for at least the next two seasons.

Since there is no district play in Class 3A, the Tigers will still have freedom in who they schedule. However, there will now be 10 teams in Region 2 instead of the eight that competed last season.

Joining the Tigers will be Melbourne Central Catholic, Lakeland Christian, Father Lopez, First Academy, Cornerstone Charter, Trinity Prep, Pierson Taylor, Discovery and Frostproof.

Overall, the new classifications created sweeping changes throughout the state as three reigning state champions have moved to new classes. Miami Northwestern, a back-to-back state champ in 6A, is now in 5A (the same class as Rockledge). Cardinal Gibbons has moved from 5A to 4A, where it will be part of a loaded class that includes Miami Carol City, Miami Booker T. Washington, Glades Central and, of course, Cocoa.

Jacksonville Raines, which beat Cocoa for the state title the past two seasons, will move from Class 4A up to 5A.

While Viera will certainly be concentrating on trying to win a sixth consecutive district title in 2019, the new classification also could pose some interesting postseason scenarios.

Plant, which beat Viera in the regional playoffs three consecutive years, is moving to Class 8A. Columbia, always one of the top teams in the class, is dropping to 6A.

Coming into Class 7A will be perennial state title contender Armwood — which will be in Region 2 with Viera — along with at least six teams from South Florida which are dropping from 8A.

That could lead to some interesting playoff matchups down the line, but remember state champion Lakeland is in Region 2 as well. Overall, Viera coach Derek Smith seemed happy with the new district.

“It’s always exciting to play new teams so the new district makes it a little different, exciting,” Smith wrote in an email. “As for adding Armwood to the region, it’s no different than having Plant. They’re traditionally a great football program, just like Plant.

“Bottom line is you have to beat the best to be a state champion anyways. And the team to beat in our region is going to be Lakeland.”

Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks Jr. also was happy with his regional setup after the Tigers made school history by winning their first playoff game last season.

“I have no problem with the reclassification, especially since there’s nothing we can do about it,” Hooks wrote. “I’m excited for next season, we’re going to make a pretty good run. We can't wait for winter workouts, then spring practice.”