Viera boys have ‘firepower’ to get to state golf tournament


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The Viera High boys golf team has a new coach in Brian Hoffman and enough talent to work through a difficult district and regional field to get to the state tournament.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Qualifying for the boys state golf tournament as an individual last year was a great moment for Viera High’s Sam Karman.

And while the junior definitely wants to get back there this season, this time … he’s hoping to have some company.

“I was going into it not really expecting it,” Karman said of his sophomore season. “We were thinking more of a team aspect to get to states. When I got to states as an individual, it was really cool.

“This year, I obviously want to go with the team. Hopefully, we can make it. It would be a lot more fun with the team.”

The Hawks, led by new coach Brian Hoffman, will face their first big postseason test on Tuesday when they go to Merritt Island to play in the Cape Coast Conference tournament at The Savannahs.

After that, it’s onto the district tournament at the Royal St. Cloud on Oct. 14 and the regional tournament, which is set for Oct. 22 at The Legends at Orange Lake.

Getting through that gauntlet won’t be easy. The FHSAA condensed the districts and regions this year and Viera is now in a district that includes teams like Lake Nona, Vero Beach and Melbourne, and in a region that Hoffman said features the top five ranked teams in the state.

But that doesn’t mean the Hawks don’t have a shot.

While Karman and senior Douglas Gearhart have been alternating at the No. 1 spot, Viera has senior Dylan Melby at the No. 3 spot, sophomore Chris Hoffman at No. 4, senior Jacob Melby at No. 5 and junior Nitai Zipp at No. 6.

Other Hawks trying to help push the Hawks into the state tournament are Gage Guettler, Jayden Creswell, Drew Giovaneiello, Owen Watts, Nick Reiter, Jack Gardner and Ethan Webb.

Brian Hoffman emphasized he wants his team to simply focus on each challenge as it comes.

“We have the firepower this year to do it, so that’s what we’re hoping for,” he said. “Our top four guys are all in the 30s, anywhere from a 36-par to 39. Our fifth and sixth guys are in the low 40s. It makes for a well-rounded, complete (group of) six guys on the team, which I think is going to benefit us going into the postseason.”

Karman, who has been getting up at 5:45 every morning to go to the gym along with some teammates, said he is driving the ball a lot farther this year, which can only help him in the postseason.

I’ve just gained a ton of distance,” Karman said. “It’s just awesome to see. Getting to Par fives … I can almost get there in two depending on the wind.”

The Viera junior also praised his new coach – the third coach the Viera boys have had in the past three years – for his knowledge of the game and his organizational skills, calling Hoffman “just an awesome guy.”

As for getting back to the state tournament, Karman agreed with his coach that it will be a challenge, but not an impossible one.

“They condensed the region so it made it a lot harder, but we’re still a good team,” Karman said. “We didn’t lose anybody from last year that played in districts or regionals, so that will be good. We’ve just got to execute when it comes time.”