High School Football off to Surprising Start for Some, Week 1 in the Books for Local Colleges
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Senior Editor // September 6, 2018
Former local stars shine on college fields
ABOVE VIDEO: Astronaut War Eagles head coach Justin Worden and running back Jaiden Dollard speak to Space Coast Daily’s Graham McGowan following their 30-21 win over Eau Gallie on Friday, August 31.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – I warned you the high school football season goes by in the blink of an eye. As we are approach Week 3 this Friday night, some of the mainstays in the county are off to less than stellar starts.
Viera and Cocoa are a combined 1-3 after two weeks but I don’t think it’s panic time just yet.
The big storyline heading into the season was new head coaches, eight of them to be exact. How have the done so far? not bad when you consider that five of them took over programs that won four games or less last year.
Week 1 of the college season is now in the books and three of the five teams followed closely on the Space Coast were victorious.
The Florida Tech Panthers, Florida Gators and UCF Knights all captured wins in their 2018 debuts while the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles stumbled badly during primetime nationally televised games.
The 321 Top Five Teams in Brevard were released on Monday night.
The poll is conducted by the broadcasters of high school football on Space Coast Daily as well as The Friday Night Locker Room and three independent voters from local Brevard media not affiliated with either outlet.
The poll uses a points system based off ranking six teams. First place receives six points.
The Top 5:
- Rockledge Raiders 2-0 (66 points)
- Cocoa Tigers 1-1 (47 Points)
- Heritage Panthers (39 Points)
- Viera Hawks (35 Points)
- Palm Bay Pirates (25 points)
The Astronaut War Eagles (1-0), Space Coast Vipers (2-0) and MCC Hustlers (1-1) received votes from the committee but did not earn enough points to crack the Top 5.
Here is a look at the high school and college weeks in review, by the numbers.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: The Friday Night Locker Room’s Orville Susong, Steve Wilson, and Caleb Brown bring you Week 2 prep football action as the Space Coast Vipers hosts the Father Lopez Green Wave out of Daytona.
6-9: The combined record of the eight new head coaches through the first two weeks of the high school football season. Congratulations to Matt Diesel and his Space Coast Vipers as they are the only 2-0 among the group.
5: Number of Brevard teams that enter week three undefeated. They are the Space Coast Vipers (2-0), Melbourne Bulldogs (2-0), and the No.1 ranked in Brevard County, Rockledge Raiders (2-0). The Astronaut War Eagles and Bayside Bears are each 1-0.
6: Rockledge’s Ladarius Tennison is an early candidate for offensive player of the year. The junior has hit paydirt six times through two weeks and he’s done it a few different ways. Tennison has four rushing touchdowns covering 27, 25, six and three yards. He also has a 67-yard pass reception for a touchdown and a 45-yard punt return touchdown for the undefeated Raiders.
247: Astronaut’s Jaiden Dollard is off to a pretty good start himself. The junior had 14 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns Friday night helping the War Eagles knock off Eau Gallie, 30-21. Dollard was awarded The Friday Night Locker Room, Space Coast Daily Player of The Game for his performance. In all, Dollard had 247 all-purpose yards which included a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown. All three touchdowns came in the second half as the War Eagles outscored the Commodores 21-7 after trailing 14-9 at halftime.
49: The good news is the Viera Hawks have scored 49 first-half points in their first two games (21 vs Rockledge & 28 vs Ft. Dorchester) this season. The bad news is, the Hawks haven’t scored a second-half point yet in 2018 and are 0-2 as a result. They didn’t allow any second-half points vs Rockledge but allowed 11 to Ft. Dorchester as the South Carolina team came back to win 31-28. The last time Viera began 0-2 was in 2012 when they finished 1-8 but that’s not going to happen this season (see Aaron Rodgers quote below).
ABOVE VIDEO: Following a 1-2 start in 2014, Green Bay quarterback had some words of advice for Packers fans, advice fans of the Viera Hawks and Cocoa Tigers should hear and heed.
4: The Tigers dropped to 1-1 following a tough loss last Friday to a very good Class 8A Treasure Coast team in Week 2. Former head coach John Wilkinson took over Cocoa in 2005 and on four occasions, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013 began the season with a loss or several of them. In 2007 and 2012 the Tigers started 0-2 and in 2011, started the season 0-3. They were later awarded the win vs. Miami Central in 2011 due to an ineligible player so officially it was a 0-2 start. The last time the Tigers lost this early in the season was in 2013 when they were beaten by Gonzaga up in Washington D.C. 17-14. Ryan Schneider is building an offensive juggernaut so in the words of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X Tigers fans, Cocoa will be just fine.
- Side note, the Titusville Terriers will travel to take on John Wilkinson’s new team, New Smyrna Beach on Friday,
7-8: We pride ourselves on how good the level of play is on Space Coast fields and courts when it comes to most any high school sport. In the end, the true level of measurement is the win-loss record. Former NFL head coaching great Bill Parcells once said, “You’re only as good as your record.” With that said the hometown guys took it on the chin in Week 2 as Brevard teams were 4-6 vs. out of county teams. So far this season, Space Coast teams are 7-8 overall vs teams from outside of Brevard County.
ABOVE VIDEO: Former Viera Hawk Wide receiver Tre Nixon had a great Knights’ debut. He hauled in five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
14: The UCF Knights defeated UConn 56-17 to kick off the college football season last Thursday night to win their 14th straight game. The 14-game winning streak is the longest in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
105: Former Viera Hawks wide receiver Tre Nixon had a great debut for UCF. Nixon, a transfer from Ole Miss, caught five passes for a team-high 105 yards and he scored two touchdowns.
396: UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton earned American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the University of Connecticut last Thursday. The junior completed 24-of-32 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns. The Heisman candidate added 50 rushing yards for 396 total yards of offense.
5: Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks tossed five first-half touchdowns vs. Charleston Southern. Florida only threw 10 passing touchdowns as a team in 2017. In fact, the Gators didn’t throw their first touchdown of the 2017 season until the fourth quarter of game two vs. Tennessee and didn’t reach five passing touchdowns until the fourth quarter of game six, a 19-17 loss to Texas A&M at home.
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlights of the Gators 53-6 drubbing of FCS FCS-classed Charleston Southern in the season opener for both teams. (SEC Network video)
6531: Days since the last Gators signal caller threw five touchdowns in one half and no, it wasn’t Tim Tebow. It was Rex Grossman and he did on October 14, 2000, vs. Auburn or 17 years, 10 months and 18 days to the day Franks did it this past Saturday.
222: Everything was just great with the Gators offense but there should be cause for concern on the defense, especially when you see what LSU’s rushing attack did to Miami’s defense. The Gators allowed their FCS foe to rush for 222 yards and 5.2 yards per carry on Saturday in the Swamp. This was despite CSU passing for just 3 yards on the game.
32: Speaking of the Kentucky Wildcats, they visit Gainesville Saturday night and last defeated UF in 1986. Ronald Reagan was President, Top Gun the highest grossing movie, Jack Nicklaus won the Masters and the Berlin Wall still stood. Could this be the year the Wildcats get the Gators? Florida has won three of the past four games by a touchdown in overtime, by five points, and by a single point. Remember that rushing stat I just gave you above, last week Kentucky rushed for 299 yards in its opener with both RB’s each breaking 100 yards and a mobile QB contributing 38 additional yards. This will be an early season battle of a Wildcat strength Vs. a Gator weakness.
3-0: First game, first win. Florida Tech (1-0) kicked off the 2018 season on Saturday evening with a 33-14 road victory over Benedict College (0-1) at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. With the result, the Panthers improve to 3-0 all-time when opening the season on the road.
6: Tre Nixon wasn’t the only former Viera Hawk to have a great debut with his new college team. Former Hawks kicking standout Trey Scahneville won the starting job with the Florida Tech Panthers as a freshman this season and he didn’t squander his opportunity. Schaneville scored six points nailing all three extra points and hit a 24-yard field goal to give the Panthers a 19-7 halftime lead.
4: The Florida Tech defense forced four turnovers in their first game. Under the guidance of second-year coordinator, Rick Minter, FIT picked off three passes and recovered one fumble. The Panthers D also added two defensive scores. Florida Tech racked up two sacks and eight tackles for loss totaling 24 yards in the game.
7: FIT competes in the Gulf South Conference which many call the SEC of D2 football. This past weekend, six of the conferences eight teams won their openers. The only two teams to lose was Delta State and Shorter. The Delta State will visit Florida Tech Panthers Stadium next Saturday, Sept 15, at 7:00 p.m.
ABOVE VIDEO: In the final game of college football’s Week 1, the Virginia Tech Hokies jump out to an early 7-0 lead on the Florida State Seminoles and put the game out of reach with a touchdown off a blocked punt in the fourth quarter of a 24-3 victory. (Video by ESPN)
13: Speaking of the South Eastern Conference. The 14-team conference won 13 games in Week 1. While it’s true many of the teams played ‘soft’ opponents, the SEC still flexed its muscle against Power 5 teams. No.9 Auburn beat No. 6 Washington and No. 25 LSU destroyed No.8 Miami as underdogs on neutral fields. Additionally, No. 1 Alabama and Mississippi also defeated “Power 5” conference foes at neutral sites.
56 Percent: The Florida State Seminoles were atrocious in losing 24-3 at home to Virginia Tech on Monday night. FSU committed five turnovers, went one for four in the red zone and surrendered 14 tackles for loss. The most amazing stat is of Florida State’s 63 offensive plays, 35 went for zero or negative yards (56 percent). That is the highest percentage of negative plays for the Seminoles since Nov 25, 2006, against Florida.
1-4: Even more concerning for the Seminoles is that FSU is 1-4 at home vs. conference foes since the start of last season. This is the second straight season the Seminoles have lost their home opener to an ACC opponent. Their lone home conference victory during this time was a 27-24 win over Syracuse last November 4.
This week’s high school schedule: Week 3
Jensen Beach at Cocoa (Space Coast Daily TV)
Palm Bay at Heritage (Space Coast Daily TV)
Jacksonville Bolles at Rockledge (Space Coast Daily TV)
Merritt Island at Astronaut
Bayside at Melbourne
Cocoa Beach at Halifax Academy
Seabreeze at Eau Gallie
Berean Christian at Holy Trinity
Archbishop McCarthy at MCC
Satellite at Father Lopez
Florida College Football Schedule:
Newberry at Florida Tech (Sat 1 p.m.)
South Carolina State Bulldogs (FCS) @ No.19 UCF Knights (6 p.m.)
Kentucky Wildcats at No.25 Florida Gators (7:30 p.m.)
Samford Bulldogs (FCS) @ Florida State Seminoles (7:20 p.m.)
Savannah State Tigers (FCS) @ No.22 Miami Hurricanes (6 p.m.)
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