Viera sends message with season-opening win over Bayside


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Viera High's Cohen Graham-Johnson (left) follows the blocks of Jackson Hatfield (No. 66) and Jake Koons (No. 71) on his way to scoring on an 8-yard touchdown run during Friday night's 41-6 victory over visiting Bayside.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

The Viera Hawks feel like they’ve got something to prove this season.

Well, they certainly made their point Friday night.

And they’re not done yet. Not by a long shot.

Zak Sedaros scored three touchdowns on offense, intercepted a pass on defense and the Hawks rolled over visiting Bayside 41-6 on Senior Night at Hawk Stadium.

It was just the kind of start Viera was looking for following the defection of nine starters from last year’s team to other county schools.

“We were told by a bunch of people that we’re going to go 2-5,” Sedaros said. “That’s absolutely absurd. I don’t see that happening at all.

“I think we played really well as a team. We can definitely improve in a lot of areas, but I’m excited about it.”

The Hawks are relying on a number of players to step into key roles this season and they certainly got some strong performances in Friday night’s season opener.

Quarterback C.J. Simms completed a 31-yard pass to James Goffigan to set up Viera’s first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Sedaros, to put the Hawks up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Senior Aidan Davis, in his first game at running back, scored on a 28-yard run. Simms would scramble and find Sedaros for a 12-yard TD pass. Sophomore Cohen Graham-Johnson added an 8-yard touchdown run.

Sedaros would also score on a 12-yard jet sweep. Kicker Jared Perdomo added field goals of 27 and 41 yards.

That was more than enough for a Viera defense led by defensive tackle Jamari Lyons, who celebrated his birthday by making several big stops, and fellow defensive tackle Jackson Hatfield, who helped clog up the middle and disrupt the Bears’ offense.

Nolan Helton, Johnny Eaton and Bryce Reynolds also came up with key defensive plays for the Hawks throughout the night.

Only one blown coverage by Viera’s secondary kept it from being a shutout.

Hawks coach Derek Smith was not only happy with the way his team played Friday night, he was also pleased with the attitude his players showed throughout the game.                                             

“We had mistakes,” Smith said. “But here’s the difference … when we had mistakes, we didn’t chew on each other. We stayed positive. We stayed together. Look, that’s not what we had last year.

“Last year, we had a lot of negativity when things would go wrong. Bayside’s a good football team. We left 14-21 points off the board.

“Bottom line is, our guys are going to make mistakes early in the season. It’s our job to coach them. It’s our job to fix them. We’ll be hitting the film room (Sunday) to correct those mistakes and next week, we’ll practice hard to get ready for Heritage.”

The Hawks came into the season without any experienced running backs, but Smith was impressed with the play of Davis, Graham-Johnson and Preston Foreman, who all ran hard and were productive Friday night.

Smith also liked the play he got from Simms, who made several starts as a sophomore, but is entering his junior season as Viera’s full-time starter.

“I think C.J. played a little nervous at first, but the thing is, he handled it with maturity,” Smith said. “What I was proud of, I told him, there was a play in the (second) quarter where he rolled out and he had plenty of green grass to run it, but he found Zak in the back of the end zone instead.

“To me, that’s a sign of maturity, because he’s running with his eyes up as opposed to his eyes down. A lot of young quarterbacks put their eyes down and just want to take the green grass. Instead of taking the green grass, he found a touchdown, which was better.”

Viera also got strong play defensively Friday night from ends Tyler Cooley, Nate Acevedo, Connor Nelson and Cameron Wright. Linebackers Austin Smith, Aiden Ferrer, Eaton and Andreas Foreman also played well along with the secondary of Sedaros, Helton, Reynolds. Connor Yancey and A.J. Floyd.

Senior wide receiver Caleb Osburn had several nice receptions, including one where he fought and stretched to the get the ball just past the first-down marker.

And of course, the play of Viera’s offensive line – Cooper Liston, Justin Humphreys, Brady Touzet, Jake Koons, Tyler Matas, Tommy Arevalos and Kyle Bortz (with some help from Lyons, Hatfield and Cooley) – was paramount to the Hawks’ success.

“I think we played really well overall as a team,” Sedaros said. “We were not individuals. I was able to get into the end zone three times, but it was only because my offensive line and my receivers were blocking for me. I can’t do it on my own.”

Used primarily as a defensive player in his first three seasons at Viera, Sedaros certainly enjoyed his big night on offense.

“Oh yeah, it was fun,” he said. “I haven’t gotten to play offense in a while, so it was good. It was exhausting because I was on the field the whole game, but it was a good time for sure.

“… We’ve got a good amount of people who are going both ways, but we’ve got fight. That’s what I love about this team. We stick together.”

Prior to the game, the Hawks celebrated their 22 seniors, a group that includes Sedaros; Cooley; Hatfield; Helton; Osburn; Foreman; Reynolds; Goffigan; Davis; Ferrer; Acevedo; Arevalos; Matas; Touzet; Koons; Liston; Humphreys; Ben Shaffer; Blake Starrett; Josh Kelly; Ethan Maden and Gavin Beck.

Viera, which travels to play Heritage next Friday, certainly played like a team with a chip on its shoulder in its season opener.

Expect that to be the case for the rest of the season, too.

“We’re going to have a chip on our shoulder all year,” Smith said. “We’re going to have a chip on our shoulder to let people know do not count us out.

“You better practice hard. You better watch your film. And you better prepare for us.”