Viera comes up big late, rallies past Kathleen
Jones catches long TD pass, Farrington gets pair of picks to key 13-7 victory
Viera High's David Eaton (No 6) and Colton Farrington celebrate after the first of two interceptions by Farrington in the Hawks' 13-7 victory over Lakeland-Kathleen Friday night.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
You can go ahead and file this one under “character builder.”
On a night when Viera’s defense played lights out football, the Hawks’ offense seemed to stall out in crucial scoring situations.
But instead of getting frustrated while trailing Lakeland-Kathleen 7-3 going into the fourth quarter, players like safety Colton Farrington kept thinking something positive was about to happen.
That faith was rewarded on Viera’s first possession of the fourth quarter, when quarterback Tim DeMorat connected with wide receiver Travis Jones on a 45-yard touchdown pass that put the Hawks up 10-7.
Two interceptions and a 25-yard Trey Schaneville field goal later, and Viera had itself a 13-7 victory over the Red Devils at Hawk Stadium Friday night.
“That says a lot, just to the mental part of our team, that they don’t give up on each other and they still count on each other,” Hawks coach Kevin Mays said. “I’m proud of them. Ultimately, you play to win. We won that one and I’ll take it. We’ll try to get better for a big one next week.”
That would be when the Hawks (3-1) play host to the county’s top program, the Cocoa Tigers.
Viera’s defense certainly looked like it was up for a big challenge Friday night.
Farrington intercepted two passes, Connor Kaminski added another pick and the Hawks got strong play all over the field from players like Brandon Mays, Brock Holland, Miguel Rodriguez, Jaylin Wilson, Marco Foreman, Will Champion, Garrett Kaminski, Justin Harrison, Cortez Allen, Kyler Doane, James Klaas and David Eaton.
Kathleen had 82 yards of offense in the first half. Seventy-four of them came on a great play by receiver Reggie Brown, who beat his man with a great, leaping catch and run for the score.
“Other than that big play, we executed the game plan,” Connor Kaminski said. “We’ve been working on it all week. We seemed to stop everything they wanted to throw at us.”
The problem was, the Hawks offense was struggling to put up points against an athletic, sturdy Kathleen defense led by University of Florida-bound linebacker Ventrell Miller.
Viera went for it on fourth down three times in the first three quarters and could not convert, including on chances at the Kathleen 1 and 4-yard lines.
But as bad as things were looking toward the end of the third quarter, the momentum began to swing.
A big run by Kathleen that would have given the Red Devils a first-and-goal was called back on a holding penalty. Then, on a play in which Connor Kaminski delivered a thunderous hit on a Kathleen ballcarrier, Red Devils quarterback Antonio Whitehead went down with what turned out to be a leg cramp.
As the Hawks were preparing to get the ball, players and coaches were telling themselves they needed to score.
Viera’s first play of the fourth quarter went for a 25-yard gain on a pass from DeMorat to Brennen DePlancke to the Red Devils’ 45-yard line. Three plays later, a pass from DeMorat to Jones changed the game for good.
“I was just looking for the ball,” Jones said. “I knew I was going to be open down the hash. (DeMorat) waited for me to get past the linebackers and he just passed it right outside.”
The emotional reaction on the Viera sideline was palpable. Suddenly an offense that Jones said “just didn’t have as much passion in the beginning” was all jazzed up. So was the defense
“Oh, it was awesome,” Farrington said. “The adrenaline rush … it got the game going. That’s when I knew. I felt like we were going to win.”
Just to make sure it happened, Viera would pick off Kathleen’s backup quarterback twice.
Farrington got the first one. It was his second interception of the night.
“The first one was a little shaky, but he second one, I just read the receiver right and just got there in time, made a big play,” he said.
Farrington’s interception led to a Schaneville 25-yard field goal and a 13-7 Viera lead.
Kaminski’s interception sealed the deal.
“First one of the year,” he said. “I slid and got it. I was lucky. I can’t catch normally, but yeah, it was great.”
It may not have been the Hawks’ best overall performance of the season, but it was an important one nonetheless. Because it was just the kind of win that says a lot about a team.
Just when the Hawks needed a big play, they got it.
“It feels good,” Jones said. “It shows we can come back from anything. No matter how big the opponent is, we can still come back and win.”