Viera football loaded with old rivals, new opponents


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As a sophomore, Viera High's Bryce Norton became the first high school quarterback in Florida to throw for more than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,000 yards since Tim Tebow in 2005. What's next for Norton in his junior season? Practice starts July 29 and the Hawks will face six new opponents in 2019.

CARL KOTALA

This year’s Viera High football schedule has a decidedly different look to it … and it’s not just because there are some new teams in the Hawks’ district.

Practice for the 2019 season will begin July 29 with Viera hosting Liberty in its Kickoff Classic on
Aug. 16.

Although Viera will resume its non-district rivalry against Rockledge, the teams will not meet in the regular-season opener for the first time since 2012.

Instead, the Hawks will open the season with another big, local non-district showdown on the road at Cocoa in a game that should attract a lot of attention. Viera beat Cocoa for the first time in program history last season.

After hosting Centennial on Aug. 30, the Hawks will host South Carolina’s Fort Dorchester in a rematch of a close game played in North Charleston last season.

The Hawks will have a bye the following week before hosting Rockledge on Sept. 20, in yet another big matchup that should draw the attention of Brevard County football fans.

Viera’s new Class 7A, District 5 schedule will start with a game on the road at Harmony on Sept. 27. That will be followed by a home game against DeLand, a district home game against Tohopekaliga and district road games at St. Cloud and Melbourne.

After playing each other in the past two Kickoff Classics, the Hawks and the Vero Beach Indians will square off in another big non-district game to close out the regular season. For the third consecutive year, that game will be played in Vero Beach.

Having won five consecutive district titles, the Hawks should be favored to make it six in a row even though the district lineup has changed to include Harmony, Tohopekaliga and St. Cloud.

Viera coach Derek Smith said he always sets up his schedule with the postseason in mind, but he put this one together with one very specific team in mind.

Any team in the region that wants to get to the state title game is going to have to get past defending champ Lakeland.

“I like the order that we have, creating some excitement by opening this year with Cocoa,” Smith said. “We’ve got some different non-district opponents this year that are tougher.

“I tried to find teams that might emulate Lakeland High School. We’re going to have to go through the defending state champions to get to (the state title game) so I needed to find teams that had their same style offense, had their same style of defense.

“I’m excited about this year’s schedule.”

Of the 11 teams Viera will play (including the Kickoff Classic) next season, only five were on the Hawks’ 2018 schedule, which should be exciting for the players who will get to experience something new, while also preparing themselves for the playoffs.

“Absolutely,” Smith said. “Kids … they like to see what different stadiums look like. They like to see what a different team’s uniform looks like. And obviously, they want to play different people.”