Brevard Public Schools announces starting dates for fall sports programs


Viera High School's football team will play in-county games only this regular season.


The wait isn’t over … yet … but the future is no longer unclear.

Fall sports for high schools in Brevard County now have starting dates.

Brevard Public Schools issued two press releases late Friday afternoon outlining when football, volleyball, golf, cross country, bowling and swimming will be allowed to start practicing and competing.

All sports will follow an in-county only regular-season format and each venue will be limited to 25 percent capacity due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Football can begin practicing on Sept. 8 and the first games will be played Sept. 25. The county has been divided into two, eight-team divisions, meaning it will be just a seven-game regular season.

Volleyball, meanwhile, was split into two nine-team divisions where teams will face a divisional opponent at least once and there will be a maximum of 12 games. Practice can begin Aug. 31 and the first games can be played the week of Sept. 14.

Those same dates hold true for golf, cross country, bowling and swimming. All four sports were also divided into divisions with limited regular seasons.

All Brevard County teams will be eligible to take part in the FHSAA state series with the exception of the Cocoa Beach, Satellite and Titusville football teams, which are classified as independent for the 2020-21 season and thus not eligible for the state playoffs.

The BPS announcement came on the heels of an Aug. 14 vote by the FHSAA that allowed fall sports teams to start practicing on Aug. 24. That was after the original start date of July 27 had been pushed back because of the coronavirus.

Local players, coaches and parents are just happy they now have an idea of when they can start playing.

“It feels so good to finally have a start date,” Viera High senior wide receiver Caleb Osburn wrote in a Twitter message.

“Last year, we started at the end of July, so when the start date this year kept getting pushed back, it was always disappointing. But we’re super pumped to get the pads on and finally get ready for Week 1.”

Viera released its schedule Saturday morning. The Hawks are set to open the season on Sept. 25 with a home game against Bayside, followed by a trip to Heritage the following week. After a home game against Palm Bay on Oct. 9, Viera will travel to Melbourne for the second year in a row to face the Bulldogs. Cocoa is scheduled to come to Viera on Oct. 23 and the Hawks will then close out the regular season on the road against Rockledge and Eau Gallie.

The eight teams in Viera’s division had a combined record of 48-34 with five playoff appearances in 2019.

Holy Trinity has yet to announce its schedule. Based on other schedules posted on Twitter, the Tigers will be home on Oct. 2 against Merritt Island and play at Satellite the following week.

Other teams in Holy Trinty’s division are MCC; Astronaut; Titusville; Space Coast and Cocoa Beach. Those eight teams had a combined 34-49 record in 2019 with three playoff appearances, including a second-round showing by the Tigers.

‘It’s a been a tough summer not knowing if we would play or not but it definitely feels good to know we’ll be back under those Friday night lights on the 25th,” Holy Trinity senior linebacker Carlos Estronza said in a Twitter message.

“We’ve got a good squad this year, can’t wait for that first whistle to blow!”

Getting a chance to test itself against other county teams should appeal to Holy Trinity, which was originally scheduled to play Eau Gallie and Space Coast this season.

In fact, there should be a battle for bragging rights every single week, in every single game.

‘I’m glad a decision has been made,” Holy Trinity football coach Nate Hooks Jr. said via Twitter. “I think the in-county schedules will be exciting for the county.”

In volleyball, Viera will be matched in the same division with Rockledge; Cocoa; Bayside; Eau Gallie; Heritage; Palm Bay; Melbourne and MCC.

Holy Trinity is in the second division with what should be a very challenging lineup that includes perennial state title contender Merritt Island along with Edgewood; West Shore; Astronaut; Space Coast; Titusville; Satellite and Cocoa Beach.

Golf’s divisions were set up by location due to golf course access. Division 1 will be Viera; Satellite; West Shore; Bayside; Eau Gallie; Heritage; Palm Bay; Melbourne and MCC. The other will have Holy Trinity; Cocoa Beach; Rockledge; Titusville; Merritt Island; Cocoa; Edgewood; Space Coast and Astronaut. Teams will be limited to a four-match schedule with an additional Cape Coast Conference Championship Match.

Bowling teams will get to play a five-game regular season while cross country and swimming and diving will be allowed four meets. All three sports will also get to compete in an additional CCC title event.

“Brevard Public Schools made the right decision today for fall sports,” Holy Trinity athletic director James Phillips wrote in an email. “For students-athletes, school must come first. This schedule will allow students, teachers, coaches and administration to iron out any issues with the day-to-day operations in the school prior to students competing in sports.

“The opportunity to play in county is a much safer option for the athletes and coaches. Holy Trinity is absolutely delighted to be on this schedule. I'm really looking forward to this fall sports season.”

BPS athletic directors will meet again on Wednesday to discuss and determine sport specific guidelines which will be based on FHSAA recommendations. Those guidelines will be presented to schools prior to Aug. 31.

“We are excited for our kids to regain some form of normalcy with a return to athletics this fall,” District 4 school board member Matt Susin said in a press release.

“The mental health benefits of getting back to play are immensely important during these challenging times. For many of our students, sports are the one thing that gives them that sense of pride and self-worth, along with the many life lessons learned through social interaction and working as a team.”