Viera tops Winter Springs 55-6 in playoff warmup
Viera punt returner Jamyson Boyd (right) follows his blocker, Malek Folston. Boyd would reach the end zone on the play, but it would be called back because of a penalty. Boyd would return another punt 41 yards for a touchdown and Folston would return one for 60 yards and a score in Viera's 56-6 victory.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
Ever since they walked off the field after losing in the playoffs last season, Viera High football players have been itching for another chance.
It’s been a long journey to get here … summer workouts, traveling to Texas, playing Cocoa, Palm Bay and Merritt Island … but it’s here now.
After beating visiting Winter Springs 56-6 Friday night in the final regular season game of 2015, the Hawks are heading back to the playoffs.
This time, they believe, it will be different.
“I think we’re a lot more mature,” senior quarterback Hayden Kingston said. “We’re not really satisfied as we were last year.
“Last year, we were really satisfied with getting to the playoffs and winning a district championship. But guys this year … they celebrate our accomplishments, but it’s a day long (celebration) and once Monday hits, we’re ready for our next challenge.”
Viera’s next challenge will be its biggest of the season, because its win-or-go-home time now.
The Hawks (6-4) will host Class 7A, District 5 runner-up Harmony (9-1) -- which closed out its regular season with a 27-18 victory over Eustis – on Friday night at 7:30 in the regional quarterfinals.
If the Winter Springs game was any indication, the Hawks are definitely heading into the playoffs on a roll.
Viera needed just three plays to take a 14-0 lead. After a 15-yard run by Alex Cabrera, Kingston and wide receiver Tre Nixon hooked up on touchdown throws of 50 and 30 yards on successive plays.
Brennen Deplancke added a 5-yard touchdown run and Jamyson Boyd and Malek Folston created havoc on punt returns.
Boyd, who had an earlier punt return TD called back because of a penalty, ripped off a 41-yard return for a score … with no flags.
Obviously not wanting to get burned again, the Bears directed their next punt to Folston, who promptly returned it 60 yards for a score that made it 35-0 Viera.
After Winter Springs scored its lone touchdown to make it 35-6, Kingston hit Cabrera, who made some nifty moves on his way to a 54-yard score and pushed Viera’s lead back to 42-6 heading into halftime.
While the offense was cruising, the defense was getting it done up front as players like Marco Foreman, Matt Martorelli, Riley Morris and Justin Harrison were continually getting pressure and sacks … to the point where Winter Springs quarterback Steven Frost appeared to hit the ground as Foreman bore in on him.
It got so bad that at one point, a Winter Springs player – perhaps jokingly – asked people on the Viera sideline if they had a jersey for him because he would play for them.
With the game well in hand, the Hawks were able to pull their starters and give playing time to their bench guys, who responded by adding two more touchdowns on the board.
Zach Trantham threw an 8-yard TD pass to Travis Jones and Mike Vega scored on a 13-yard run to close out the scoring and the Hawks’ sixth win of the season.
“It’s awesome seeing the guys who nobody knows, who work just as hard as anybody (get a chance to play),” Kingston said. “Like (senior wide receiver) Tim Eyler, who to me, defines someone who’s a hard worker, who loves the game of football and will do anything for his teammates.
“To see him get on the field, and to see his excitement just to be there and have the people watching him … people like that really make you excited to come to practice every day and see him every day.”
What Viera has done this season – winning a second straight district title – has truly been a team effort.
Now it’s time to create new, lasting memories to talk about at the 20-year class reunion.
Not only did Viera’s players have to endure the memory of last year’s 48-0 loss to Charlotte all summer long, coach Kevin Mays put the score up in the team’s weight room for all the players to see.
The players are determined to make their next postseason memory a better one.
“We’re very motivated by our loss in the playoffs,” Kingston said. “We want to exceed our potential this year and get to where we can and we think we’re clicking at the right time. We think things are heading in our direction.”
Having played teams like Allen (Texas), Cocoa, Palm Bay, Merritt Island and Lakeland Kathleen, this year’s team is certainly more battle tested than the one that took the field last year after having never really been challenged.
That was Mays’ plan all along.
“We are definitely game ready compared to where we were last year,” he said. “Last year, we were happy just to get here.
“These guys, this year, they know what the meaning is. They’ve got a purpose about themselves.”
It may have taken a lot of hard work to get here, but this is exactly the spot the Hawks saw themselves in when the season began.
They’ll enjoy this win. They’ll enjoy the homecoming dance Saturday night. And then they’ll turn their focus toward Harmony.
After all, now the fun really starts.