No more waiting … Brevard County football is back

Viera, Holy Trinity teams open season tonight


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The Holy Trinity Tigers and Viera Hawks have been working out, practicing and waiting for this moment ... and tonight, it's here. Both teams will open their regular seasons. Viera is at home against Bayside while Holy Trinity visits MCC.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Football is back.

It may be Week 4 for a number of teams around the state, but it’s opening night for Brevard County and both the Viera Hawks and Holy Trinity Tigers are scheduled to be in action.

The Hawks are set to host Bayside on Senior Night at 7 p.m., while the Tigers travel to play arch rival Melbourne Central Catholic. Seating at both venues will be limited to 25 percent capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Brevard Public Schools Fall Sports Plan released last month, local teams will play a seven-week, county-only schedule during the regular season. Teams have been placed into two eight-team divisions.

Viera is in Division 1 with Bayside, Rockledge, Cocoa, Eau Gallie, Melbourne, Palm Bay and Heritage. Division 2 consists of Holy Trinity, MCC, Satellite, Merritt Island, Astronaut, Titusville, Cocoa Beach and Space Coast.

“I like it. I think it adds some excitement,” Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks Jr. said of the county-only schedule. “Brevard County has pretty dang good football. We’ll be the smallest team in Division 2. We’re actually the smallest team in the county. Playing Satellite, Merritt Island, Astronaut … these schools have 1,200-1,500 more kids than we have.

“I think its perfect preparation for the playoffs.”

The Viera Hawks have won six consecutive district championships, but under the new format adopted by the FHSAA for this season, there will be no district titles and playoff teams will not be seeded by using the MaxPreps ratings system.

Instead, all teams whose districts have opted into the state series will make the post season. Seedings will be determined by a blind draw on Oct. 26 and home teams will be decided by a coin flip.

Regional playoffs for Classes 1A-4A are scheduled to begin Nov. 13 while Classes 5A-8A could have play-in games that week if there are more than 16 teams in a region. Otherwise, the postseason for the larger schools is set to begin on Nov. 20.

The Class 1A-3A state championships are scheduled for Dec. 10-12 at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee. The Class 5A-8A title games are set for Dec. 17-19. The site for those championship games has not yet been determined.

It’s been a long wait for Brevard County teams to get their season started. Under the original FHSAA plan, practice was scheduled to begin July 27. That date was pushed back due to concerns about the pandemic.

On Aug. 14, the FHSAA Board of Directors voted to allow all fall sports to begin practice on Aug. 24 with the first football games set for Sept. 4.

A full week later, BPS announced its own fall sports plan that pushed the start of non-football sports like volleyball, golf, swimming, cross country and bowling to Aug. 31. The start of football’s practice date was moved all the way back to Sept. 8.

Viera, which had player-organized and player-run workouts throughout the summer, will have a number of new players in key positions this season. But as the season opener arrives, the Hawks are feeling good about themselves.

“As a team we have been looking better and better as each week passes,” senior defensive back/wide receiver Zak Sedaros wrote in a Twitter message last week.

“We are beginning to come together as a team and get better every single day. Our player-led practices over the summer really helped us with our team bonding and unity. Those practices really showed us who is part of our family.”

One of the strengths of this year’s Viera team, on both sides of the ball, figures to be the play up front.

The Hawks have an experienced group on the offensive line, led by tackles Cooper Liston and Jake Humphreys with Brady Touzet and Jake Koons at guard and Tyler Matas at center. Tommy Arevalos and Kyle Bortz will also play prominent roles.

Defensively, tackle Jamari Lyons has scholarship offers from some of the top programs in the country – including Florida, Miami, Penn State, Auburn, Arizona State and West Virginia – and he’s only a junior. Jackson Hatfield will set up next to Lyons and give Hawks a dominating duo in the middle.

Tyler Cooley, Nate Acevedo, Connor Nelson and Cameron Wright are the defensive ends.

“I truly believe the guys up front on both sides of the football are what get you into the playoffs and what get you deep into the playoffs,” Viera coach Derek Smith said.

Tonight will also mark the Holy Trinity debut of quarterback Davin Wydner, a transfer from Georgia, and highly-touted freshman wide receiver/defensive back Dayday Farmer. Both have been impressive in their workouts prior to tonight’s game against MCC.

The Tigers and Hustlers have not met in the regular season since 2016. And while Holy Trinity holds three wins in the series, according to MaxPeps records, none of those victories have come at MCC.

Wydner, Farmer, an improved offensive and defensive line and a host of skill players are what give the Tigers hope.

So does the return of wide receiver James BlackStrain, a Georgia Tech commit, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. BlackStrain wrote in a Twitter message last week that all the new faces are fitting in very well.

And just like every other Brevard County football player, BlackStrain is just happy to be back on the field.

Tonight, the fun really begins.

“It's amazing to be back on the field,” BlackStrain wrote. “I have been ready since last spring. But it’s very exciting knowing we will be playing this year.

“At one point, I didn’t think we would have a chance to. So, we are going to take advantage of our opportunities and make the most out of them.”