Hawks may have lost, but trip to South Carolina was a success


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Members of the Viera High football team pose at Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861. The tour was part of the team's trip to South Carolina to play Fort Dorchester High School.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – It may have been a loss they’ll want to forget, but it certainly was a trip to remember for the Viera High football team this past week.

The Hawks played Fort Dorchester High School of North Charleston, South Carolina Friday night, losing 31-28 in the final 30 seconds.

It was the third time in the past four years, the Hawks have hit the road to play a well-known football program, take in the sights and bond as a team.

“It was a good time,” Viera senior cornerback Garrett Kaminski said. “I saw a lot of cool things.

“It’s definitely fun to get away and to see things that you don’t get to see, other than in this situation.”

Arriving on Thursday afternoon, the team went through a walk-through at Fort Dorchester High, then went on a Ghost of Liberty Tour later that night.

Friday included a trip to visit historic Fort Sumter and on Saturday, before heading home, the team went to tour the USS York battleship.

“It was a great trip,” Viera coach Derek Smith said. “You obviously want to walk away with a (win).”

Former Viera coach Kevin Mays started the tradition of going on the road for big games like this.

Viera went to Allen, Texas in 2015 – the same year the Hawks went to the state championship game – to face a team that is usually ranked in the top 10 in the country every year.

In 2016, the Hawks started a home-and-home series with Gonzaga Prep from Washington D.C.

Gonzaga visited Viera the first year, and the Hawks went to D.C. and won last year’s game.

Fort Dorchester will come to Florida to play the Hawks next season.

“I love coach Smith for putting it on us with these great trips,” Viera senior offensive lineman Gavin Lamp said. “And kudos to Coach Mays. I got to go to Texas and D.C., and I love Charleston.

“At the end of the day, this is about football, but coach wants us to have fun while we’re out here. … It’s super cool to go out and see something besides Melbourne. It’s kind of like a college-type atmosphere.”

Playing big-time programs like Allen, Gonzaga and Fort Dorchester not only gives the Hawks a chance to see what some big time football likes in other states, it also helps them prepare for their own drive toward the playoffs.

And even though the Hawks lost Friday night’s game, the trip was still a special one … especially if it can pay off like the trip to Texas did.

“I love Coach Smith for doing this,” Lamp said. “I would rather be here, playing a top-ranked opponent and losing and becoming closer as a team than playing some patty-cake team that we roll over and really get nothing for it.

“As weird as it is to say, sometimes you have to take losses to get better.”