Football is back and the Viera Hawks couldn’t be happier.
“Oh, it’s great,” senior offensive lineman Hayes Kingston said Tuesday following the team’s second practice of the season.
“I was talking in the captain’s group chat the other night and we were just so hyped to be back out here. We were talking about what games we want to win -- obviously, we want to win every game -- what jerseys we want to wear … and it’s our senior season.
“For a lot of us, it’s the last time we’re going to play football. We’re so hyped to be back out here.”
That’s just the kind of outlook Viera coach Shane Staples wants his players to have.
“I know they’re excited,” Staples said. “They put in the work this summer. They deserve to be excited. They didn’t take days off, went to team camp and worked really hard there.”
Staples, in his first season as Viera’s head coach, certainly has more responsibilities to take on now that he’s at the head of the Hawks’ table. But ultimately, there is one thing that hasn’t changed.
“Just a lot busier,” he said with a laugh. “I used to just worry about my position and my things and now I’m trying to worry about everything and make sure everybody’s good, paperwork’s good and this and that.
“But once you get out on the field, it’s all the same. You’re coaching. You’re trying to teach. It’s just a continuation of the classroom. You’re teaching these kids something.”
With just over 80 players out on the field, the Hawks certainly have the numbers to work with. It’s just a matter of trying to make sure all the pieces fit together, particularly on the defensive side of the ball where the Hawks will have to replace some key players.
“We have a lot of young guys on defense,” Kingston said. “We’ve had to work around some things there, move some people around. On offense, we’re pretty much returning everybody.
“I think the offensive line is our biggest, senior-heavy position. Pretty much everybody on the offensive line played varsity last year. At least, the majority of them.”
While the Hawks will have plenty of experience at wide receiver with players like Quincy Gillins and Dominick Gentile, and at running back with Cameron Mills and Judah Knight, there is one position that will see a significant change.
Chase Cromartie will step in at quarterback for C.J. Simms, who graduated, and there is no doubt the sophomore has already got the full confidence of his teammates.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” Kingston said. “Love the kid. I trust him for everything. His decision-making is great. He’s able to put a ball on a dime. He’s very smart. He knows what he’s doing.”
Viera is scheduled to play its Kickoff Classic Aug. 19 at Eau Gallie, followed by the season opener Aug. 26 at Creekside. The Hawks’ home opener is set for Sept. 2 against Satellite.
The fun has begun.
“It’s football season again, right?” Staples said. “It’s exciting. The guys are excited. You put in all the hard work in the summertime – the grinding, the early mornings – to kind of get to this point.
“It’s exciting be back out there and getting ready for the season.”