Davis’ first two TD catches highlight homecoming win over Palm Bay


Viera's Bear Bollinger punches the ball out of the hands of Palm Bay's Jaheim Mays during Friday night's homecoming game. The Hawks won the game 40-0.


Bryce Norton put the ball up high over two Palm Bay defenders.

In fact, it was so high you had to be at least, oh … 6-foot-7 to even have a chance to come down with it.

And that’s how Cooper Davis’ first varsity touchdown as a Viera Hawk came to be Friday night.

It was the first of two TD catches for the junior as Viera rolled over the visiting Pirates 40-0 on homecoming night at Hawk Stadium.

“Oh my God, it was so exciting,” said Davis, who spends most of his time on the Hawks’ defensive line.

Unlike last week’s 37-8 win over Melbourne, where the Hawks seemed to be flat, Viera (4-3) turned it up a few notches in defeating Palm Bay for its fourth consecutive win.

Norton threw four touchdown passes and ran for another, Sean Atkins caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score and the defense was lights out against Palm Bay’s running game.

Bear Bollinger forced and recovered a fumble for the Hawks. He also had an interception, along with Andre Jones.

Needless to say, Viera coach Derek Smith was much happier with his team’s performance. But he also took the time to praise Palm Bay coach Dan Burke, whom Smith worked under as the Pirates’ defensive coordinator when Palm Bay won two state championships.

“I have the most respect for Dan Burke,” Smith said. “I would not be doing what I do without Dan Burke. Dan Burke’s taught me a lot. Everyone keeps saying look much you’re all maturing and getting better.

“It’s because of his philosophy. We may have different offensive and defensive philosophies, but he taught us as young coaches when we worked for him to play the toughest opponents you can, work as hard as you can at practice – ones on ones – and understand that it does not matter what those beginning games are about. Those are just pride games.

“Get better for districts, and prepare yourself for the playoffs. Our kids are getting better because we played quality opponents at the beginning of the year who taught us how to mature as a football team player wise, how to mature as a football team coaching wise and how to mature football-wise as an organization. … We have to continue to learn each week.”

Case in point, whereas last week’s win over Melbourne featured some chirping from the Viera sidelines, there was none to be heard Friday night as the Hawks simply went out and played and played football.

Bollinger’s strip and fumble recovery set up the Hawks’ first scoring drive as Norton would take it in from 20 yards out to put Viera up 7-0.

Then it was time for Norton to find Davis from 22 yards out for his first career touchdown.

“I’m a center in basketball, so it was just like a rebound, I guess,” Davis said. “He just threw it up and let me go get it. It was a great ball, though. Honestly, he couldn’t have put it anywhere better.”

A problem with the snap on the point-after try left the Hawks leading 13-0, but it quickly became a 20-0 game when Norton hit Atkins, who made a great catch to take the ball away from a defender, for a 45-yard touchdown.

Jones’ interception led to a 4-yard touchdown pass to Davis just before the half to make it a 26-0 game.

Viera would score twice in the second half, once on an 11-yard pass from Norton to Shamaar Mohr, the other on a 1-yard run by Atkins to close out the scoring.

Norton has now thrown 15 touchdown passes on the season, while also running for seven and catching one.

It was Mohr’s seventh touchdown catch of the season. Atkins has caught five TD passes and run for three more.

And in addition to his two touchdown catches, Davis also had a good night on defense against the run-heavy Pirates.

“Cooper Davis is turning into a tremendous football player,” Smith said. “Andre Jones needs mention, too. The reason I say that is four weeks ago, the Kissimmee-Osceola game, I benched Andre Jones after the first series for a half of football.

“He’s a football player who could have took that as an opportunity to whine and say, ‘Why am I being picked on?’ He sat down for a half, came back and played a really good second half. And the last three games, he’s starting to excel and show me that he’s a tremendous football player.

“That’s the type of kid we want here at Viera High School.”

The Hawks will host district opponent Martin County next Friday night in their final regular-season home game. It will be Senior Night.

In the meantime, you couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate homecoming than with the performance the Hawks put together against Palm Bay.

“It was a fun night,” Smith said.