Kingston throws 6 TD passes as Hawks end spring with 44-21 win over Spruce Creek



Viera High running back Zack Blanch appears to have plenty of daylight after catching a pass from quarterback Hayden Kingston during Thursday night's spring game. Blanch caught two of Kingston's six TD passes as the Hawks won 44-21.

VIERA VOICE Carl Koala

PORT ORANGE – This year’s spring football game turned out to be a fun night for the Viera High Hawks.

At least, it was in the second half.

After sputtering to a 10-7 lead over host Spruce Creek, the Hawks got some stellar play on both sides of the ball on the way to a 44-21 victory in front of a number of college scouts.

“The first half, we weren’t real good,” Hawks coach Kevin Mays said. “We came out tight and didn’t play with some enthusiasm and some fun. In the second half, I told them, ‘Guys, you’re doing this for fun. Go out and have some fun.’

“I think they responded to that. The defense played with some energy. We played good defense and put some points up on offense.”

Quarterback Hayden Kingston threw six touchdown passes on the night – three to highly-recruited receiver Tre Nixon. Running back Zack Blanch caught two touchdown throws and Donovan Jackson caught the other.

Defensively, the Hawks got an interception from Jay Boyd and strong play from players like Trevor Merritt, Brandon Mays, Matt Ellis and Evan Cruz.

Trey Schaneville also had a field goal for Viera, which is coming off a year in which it went unbeaten in the regular season for the first time and won its first district championship.

Now the Hawks are hoping to build off that season.

After struggling to run the ball in the first half against Spruce Creek, the Hawks decided to open things up after halftime and it obviously paid off big time. It also gave Viera a chance to look at some players in new roles who will be counted on to help the Hawks next season.

“I knew what Tre and Zack were capable of, and I knew what I could do,” Kingston said. “I was looking for some defensive guys who had to come play offense to step up and they did. Jay absolutely balled. I don’t think he had one drop and some awesome catches.

“Donovan had some awesome catches, too. Zack did his thing in the receiving game. We hadn’t worked on that empty hurry-up all spring. I’m just real proud of the guys, how we came off that and adjusted and did our thing.”

Nixon, who has more than 40 scholarship offers from some of the top college football programs in the country, caught all three of his touchdowns in the second half. Not only did he put his speed on display, he also had several standout plays.

On one, he outfought two defenders for a pass over the middle. Moments later, with Kingston scrambling, he worked his way open for a catch along the sideline. He finished it off with a touchdown catch, again working himself open as Kingston scrambled.

Nixon’s other two touchdowns came in the corner of the end zone where scouts from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Penn State, Maryland (former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Keenan McCardell), Arizona, Middle Tennessee State, UCF and Lindenwood were all on hand.

“We’ve really gotten used to it,” Kingston said of playing in front of the scouts.

“This spring, I don’t think there was a practice where we didn’t have one or two (college scouts). This wasn’t weird for anybody. When you’ve got a guy like Tre, who brings all of this attention, you just get accustomed to it. It’s nothing new for us around here.”

The most important thing for Viera was that the team came out of the game healthy, unlike last spring when the Hawks lost leading tackler Taylor Streeter on the game’s first play.

So overall … it was a fun night indeed.

“The guys you expected to play (well), stepped up and played,” Mays said. “I mean, there were a couple of the younger guys that stepped in and played when they had the opportunity, but overall our guys were our guys.”

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