Hawks blow out of St. Cloud sets up showdown for district champioship

Viera visits Melbourne on Friday


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Viera High quarterback Bryce Norton ran (left) ran for three touchdowns and threw for two more as the Hawks defeated St. Cloud 42-7 Friday night to move within a win of claiming their sixth straight district title.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

ST. CLOUD – The stakes keep getting higher … and the Viera Hawks keep getting better.

Bryce Norton ran for three touchdowns and threw for two more as the Hawks went on the road and blew out St. Cloud 42-7 Friday night in a Class 7A, District 5 game.

Viera, which has now won four in a row, improved to 3-0 in district play (5-2) overall and sets up next week’s showdown at Melbourne (7-1, 3-0). The winner will not only claim the district title, but receive an automatic bid into the FHSAA playoffs.

The Hawks, who have won five straight district titles, are certainly playing like a team focused in on bumping that number to six.

“I think we played very well as a complete team,” junior safety Zak Sedaros said. “I feel like this is the first game where we were really clicking on offense and defense at the same time for the whole game.”

Viera’s defense helped set the tone early as Cooper Davis, JuJu Barfield, Tyler Cooley and Nate Acevedo dominated St. Cloud’s offensive line, making things easier for linebackers Zach Taylor, Johnny Eaton and D’Andre Lewis and defensive backs Jeremiah Housey, Jalen Housey, Connor Kennedy, Nolan Helton, Kato Holmes and Sedaros.

The Hawks batted down a number of St. Cloud passes and Holmes – in his first game back from injury – had an interception.

Offensively, Norton and wide receiver Davis Mallinger opened the scoring by connecting on a long touchdown pass for the second week in a row. This one, from 36 yards out, put the Hawks up 7-0.

Norton would score on a six-yard run to make it 14-0 at the half.

Once again, the Hawks really put it in gear in the second half.

Andrew Hart, Brady Touzet, Tyler Matas, Colben Maher, Justin Humphreys and Cooper Liston provided the room up front for runs by Norton, Jarvelle Francis, Jeremiah Housey and Jalen Housey as the Hawks moved the ball downfield with help from receivers Donovan Giles, Caleb Osburn, Cohen Graham-Johnson and Mallinger.

Norton, who is starting to look more and more like the quarterback who threw for more than 3,000 yards and ran for over 1,000 last season, would score on runs of 12 and 10 yards to go with his first-half touchdown.

Jeremiah Housey would add a nine-yard touchdown run.

And in one of the highlights of the night, Norton threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Sedaros.

“(Quarterbacks coach) Shane (Staples) put me in and he was like, ‘Don’t mess it up,’ because I’m always in there (saying), ‘Let me get a couple of reps on offense,’” Sedaros said.

“I actually capitalized on the play. Thank God for the opportunity and the ability to make the play. It was a good throw by Bryce and good protection by the offensive line.”

Needless to say, Viera coach Derek Smith was pleased after seeing his team put together another solid effort. He also had a warning for those who believe they can knock the Hawks out of the top spot in the district.

“We’re clicking,” Smith said. “And to be quite frank, I’m starting to get offended. All the interviews where everybody’s talking about how they have a chance to beat us …

“We’re the defending district champions.”

The Hawks will get their chance to keep that streak alive when they face the Bulldogs next week.

Smith said Friday night’s win was dedicated to Viera junior varsity player Brenden Coady-Reese, who was hospitalized after being injured in a recent game.

“We played for him tonight,” Smith said.