The biggest question for the Viera Hawks coming into Thursday night’s spring football game against Bayside was how well their revamped offense would look.
Well, the results are in and the Hawks have to be pleased with the results.
Quarterback C.J. Simms threw a couple of touchdown passes and running backs Judah Knight and Cohen Graham-Johnson both broke off some big runs as the Hawks defeated the visiting Bears 29-0 on a windy night at Hawk Stadium.
“I think it went all right,” Simms said. “We started off slow in the first half offensively, but I think we picked it up in the second half. Judah really showed what he had tonight. He was really running all over in the first and second half.
“I think it helped our young offensive line to have him running so good because all they had to do was a get a small hole and he was taking 10, 20-plus yards.”
Viera, which graduated its entire starting offensive line from last season, used a group that included Kyle Bortz, Maguire Pedrick, Aiden Allen and Hayes Kingston with Nick Desimone and Granger Lamp splitting time at one of the guard spots.
“I thought the offensive line played well,” Viera coach Derek Smith said. “They were blitzing six or seven guys sometimes. You blitz all night and the young guys are going to miss a few but they picked up (most of it). That’s a big deal. Most of these kids were playing JV last year. One was playing rec league last year.”
Viera’s defense, meanwhile, was as good as advertised despite missing two key players – linebacker Austin Smith and defensive end Connor Nelson – who will be expected back in the fall.
Defensive tackle Jamari Lyons was dominant up front and the Hawks got some strong play at linebacker from Johnny Eaton and Andreas Foreman. The secondary, led by Connor Yancey, also did a good job of handling its responsibilities.
Judah, who made defenders miss all night, got the Viera defense going in the first half with a 7-yard touchdown run.
“I’m insanely impressed with Judah,” Smith said. “That kid is a special running back.”
After the Hawks had a touchdown pass called back because of a holding penalty, Viera kicker Jared Perdomo nailed a 40-yard field goal to make it a 10-0 game.
It became 16-0 just before the half when Eaton took in in from 1-yard out and the point-after attempt went wide.
The windy conditions made it a tough night for the quarterbacks as the ball would sail out of the hand on one end of the field and get cut down by the wind going the other way.
But Simms made the best of it in the second half, hitting Graham-Johnson with a 3-yard TD pass that made it 22-0. The snap on the PAT sailed high and well over the head of the holder. While the Hawks brought the ball back, placed it down and kicked it through the uprights, the officials signaled that the extra point was no good, even though the correction was never made on the scoreboard.
Finally, Simms capped off the night’s scoring by hitting Dominic Gentile with a 26-yard touchdown pass.
Not bad for a team that, in addition to its offensive line, graduated one of its top running backs and its top two receivers from last season.
“We’ve got a young O-line,” Simms said. “They did a little better than I expected them to do, honestly. They’ve definitely got to put on some weight, put on some muscle over the summer to get ready for some of the bigger teams (we will play) next year. But overall, I think they did pretty good.
“Our defense was shut out as always. I mean, the D-line is ridiculous. They linebackers are ridiculous. Even our DBs, they’re young and new but they’re keeping up with (what we expect) on defense.”
With the summer coming, the Hawks will be back in action on Aug. 20 when they are scheduled to host the Satellite Scorpions in the Kickoff Classic.