Carmer has Viera program heading in right direction


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Viera High's Jaeda Stewart has played on the varsity basketball team for four years. The senior says this year's team is the best she's been on.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Jaeda Stewart has played varsity basketball at Viera High for four years … and three different coaches … but there’s no doubt where she would rank this year’s team.

“Our team this season is the best I’ve seen it the past four years,” the senior guard/forward said.

“It’s just a matter of putting everyone in their assignments and working collectively.”

The Hawks are off to a 7-3 start, which puts them two victories away from matching last year’s win total and also gives them a chance to have their first winning season since the 2014-15 team went 14-10.

New coach Josh Carmer has brought energy and intensity to the entire program and has been stressing competition not just on every play during games, but every drill during practice as well.

The results are clearly starting to show.

“I taught a lot of new offenses and defenses early (in the season), and now we’re taking the time to get better and sharpen that,” Carmer said. “I see that potential where we’re already competing really well against a lot of teams.

“That’s going to get better and better throughout this season. But we also have a lot of hungry freshmen that are young in the program that are on the JV squad that are fantastic. They have the hunger and the desire.”

Stewart, who has played for coaches Ray Kimball, Maggie Davis (who became the school’s athletic director) and now Carmer, said she has seen the program steadily improve through the years to the point where the Hawks have become a more competitive team.

The credit for this year’s improvement goes to what Stewart described as Carmer’s ability to recognize the skill set of each of his players and then put them in a position to succeed.

“I’d say we’re stronger. I’d say we’re better skill-wise. I think our communication (is better) as well,” she said. “Everything is just heightened this year.”

Stewart is a co-captain on this year’s team along with junior point guard Casi Ramirez.

Other key players include shooters Tatiana Stephens and Sofia Smith and post players Morgan Mordas and Jacquelin Castro.

“We have a team that has the ability to make shots from a lot of people,” Carmer said.

The Hawks are set to return from break Friday and Saturday when they take part in the New Smyrna Beach New Year’s Shootout. They’re scheduled to play Astronaut and the host Barracudas.

While Stewart is obviously hoping the Hawks can finish out the season with a nice postseason run, she sees the Viera program only continuing to get stronger under Carmer’s direction.

“I think this team, especially in the next couple of years, has the potential to be one of the top teams in the county,” she said.