Viera football revels in clinching playoff spot
It's taken a lot of hard work, but the Hawks have finally clinched their first-ever playoff appearance.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
All the extra work, the time spent in the weight room, the film room and the practice field … all of the determination to be the team that finally – FINALLY – made the postseason for the first time in Viera High football history finally came to a head last Friday night at Melbourne.
With a 21-14 victory over the Bulldogs, the Hawks improved to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 7A, District 12. Should Melbourne beat Martin County tonight, Viera will clinch the district championship and a chance to host three consecutive playoff games.
It seemed like such a faraway dream the first six seasons of Viera football, when the Hawks went a combined 14-47. With a win tonight at home against Space Coast, Viera will be 15-2 over the past two years.
If the rest of the county hasn’t started believing in the Hawks … it had better start doing it soon.
“I think these guys put in the work,” Viera coach Kevin Mays said. “I think the players expected to have success this year, which is what you want going in. You want them to expect to play good. It’s been a fun year so far.”
Now in his fourth season at Viera, Mays has built the Hawks into a contender with the help of a talented coaching staff, the support of the administration and boosters, and of course, the players who have not only bought into what he is teaching them, but have dedicated themselves to working hard to achieve their goals.
Making the playoffs is just one of those goals.
“It’s taken four years to get here,” senior defensive end Hunter Vattes-Dixon said. “We’ve got to keep it going. … It feels amazing. It’s an experience that this school is never going to get to experience again because we’re the first group that was able to get this far and accomplish so much. It’s just something unimaginable.”
Mays believes Viera started to turn the corner last season, when Viera went 8-2 and beat big-name teams like Rockledge and Astronaut. For Vattes-Dixon, the turning point came when the team attended a football camp at Jacksonville University.
“All the players went together, and it brought the team closer together,” Vattes-Dixon said. “It actually made us depend on each other. We got to stay in the same dorm together, be around each other all the time and now we have things like Hog Night, where the players get together, we go over to one of our coach’s houses. We sit down, we watch football, we eat and play video games or whatever and just hang out with each other.
“It brings the team together. It makes us want to be there for each other on the field and in practice.”
That togetherness was never more evident than last Friday, when the final seconds ticked off the clock and the Hawks celebrated their historic victory.
“It’s an accomplishment that’s unexplainable,” Vattes-Dixon said. “It’s something you worked so hard for and when you finally accomplish it, there’s no better feeling.
“(It was) pure joy, pure happiness. Everybody was excited. It was one of those times when you get a group of people together and you all get to experience that one feeling together, as one. It was amazing.”