VIDEO: Exclusive Interview With Viera’s Tre Nixon On His Decision To Sign With SEC Power Ole Miss
By Steve Wilson & Alan Zlotorzynski // May 3, 2016
ABOVE VIDEO: Viera High School’s WR Tre Nixon talks Ole Miss. Nixon discusses what he expects when he gets to Oxford, areas of improvement, strengths and what Rebel fans can expect from him. (Zach Clark, SpaceCoastDaily Video; Alan Zlotorzynski Interview)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Space Coast Daily and Friday Night Locker Room prep sports experts Steve Wilson, Orville Susong, Zach Clark, Anthony Nachreiner and Alan Zlotorzynski poured through reams of stats and feedback from all 17 head football coaches in Brevard County to compile the following Space Coast Daily – Friday Night Locker Room 2016 High School Football All-Star Team.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Chauncey Gardner, Cocoa Tigers
Chauncey Gardner helped guide the Tigers to a 10-3 record and a spot in the state semifinal game. He committed nearly a year ago to the Florida Gators and became a mid-year enrollee following the holiday break.
Playing in the defensive secondary, Gardner shut down half the field against opposing quarterbacks helping the Tigers defense once again finish as one of the best in the area.
Gardner, 5-foot-10 inches tall and 190 pounds, registered 55 total tackles (31 solo), four sacks and two interceptions in 2015.
Listed as the 84th best high school prospect on ESPN’s Top 300 list, Gardner also chipped in on the Tigers offense in 2015 with 927 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns.
OFFENSIVE CO-MVPs: Hayden Kingston and Tre Nixon, Viera Hawks
The Space Coast Daily – Friday Night Locker Room offensive Co-MVPs for the 2015 season are Viera Hawks QB Hayden Kingston and Tre Nixon. Both seniors were huge catalysts in head coach Kevin Mays’ offense in 2015.
Kingston finished the season as the leading passer in the state with 2,855 yards and 32 touchdowns during the regular season, and added another 963 yards and seven TD’s in the postseason. In all, Kingston finished with 3,815 yards and a whopping 39 TD’s. Kingston also finished second in rushing for the Hawks with 388 yards and added another five touchdowns.
Tre Nixon, who recently committed to play college football at Ole Miss, shares Offensive MVP honors with his teammate. He finished the season with an impressive 1,224 yards and 18 scores. Nixon averaged 16.5 yards per catch and nearly 88 yards per game. His 74 total receptions was third best in Florida.
DEFENSIVE MVP: Jay Boyd, Viera Hawks
On the defensive side of the football, another Hawk player dominated the top of just about every ballot turned in by Space Coast area coaches. Viera Hawk defensive back, and all-purpose athlete, Jay Boyd, is the Space Coast Daily – Friday Night Locker Room Defensive MVP of the Year.
Boyd is committed to play his college football at Eastern Kentucky. With 102 total tackles and one sack, Boyd was an all-around defense force to be reckoned with. In the secondary he forced seven pass breakups and intercepted opposing passers nine times.
HEAD COACH OF THE YEAR: Kevin Mays, Viera
Kevin Mays’ team finished the season one victory shy of bringing home Brevard County’s 14th state title, and first since the Cocoa Tigers did it in 2010. Mays’ team finished the season 10-5 but played arguably the toughest schedule in the state.
Mays scheduled one of the best teams in the country in the Allen Eagles and took his Hawks to play in their new state-of-the-art 18,000 seat Pro-like stadium. Viera would fall 56-20 to Allen, but they would not allow the lesson of what they learned in defeat to be forgotten – Mays wouldn’t let them. Back home in Florida, the Hawks would lose to three eventual playoff teams in the Cocoa Tigers, Kathleen Red Devils and the Palm Bay Pirates. They would drop those three contests by a combined 12 points.
Although the Hawks fell to St. Thomas Aquinas in Orlando in the state final, it was clear that Kevin Mays had indeed accomplished the goal he set out to achieve – the Hawks didn’t win one playoff game, they won four.
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR: Matt Cammarata, Holy Trinity
Matt Cammarata of Holy Trinity, along with head coach Nate Hooks, led the Tigers to an 8-4 record and advanced to the playoffs. Cammarata is one of the up-and-coming coaches in the area. The Tigers offense averaged 225 rushing yards per game and scored 45 TD’s in 2015. Defensively, the Tigers allowed just 12 points per contest.
COMEBACK PLAYER: Zach Blanch, Viera
In 2014, the Viera Hawks finished the regular season 9-0 and running back Zach Blanch was a major reason why the offense excelled. The then junior rushed for 940 yards and a dozen touchdowns and it appeared as if reaching the 1,000 yard milestone and 15 touchdowns was a foregone conclusion in his upcoming senior season in 2015.
However, Blanch was tackled around his lower leg during training camp in August and suffered a high ankle sprain – perhaps the most nagging injury an athlete can suffer. He tried to play running back, and while the pain remained, what was gone was his ability to cut and excel as running backs must do.
Blanch eventually came to the realization that toting the rock for 48 minutes on Friday Night in the tough Class 7A wasn’t going to be a reality, but he knew he could play linebacker and be a contributor to his team. His 2015 stats line was impressive with 81 total tackles, eight of those for a loss and five sacks. Playing middle linebacker, the 5-foot-10, 220-pound Blanch became the heart and soul of the Hawks defense.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
• QUARTERBACK: QB Daeshawn Mills, Heritage Panthers. The Panther offense racked up more than 5,000 yards of total offense and Mills was responsible for a whopping 2,389 total yards – 1,286 passing yards and 1,103 on the ground. He scored 24 of the Panthers 47 offensive touchdowns in 2015 and was selected first team Class 6A All-State.
• RUNNING BACKS: Josh Gaines, Heritage Panthers; Jared Morris, Palm Bay; and Brian Lankford-Johnson, Palm Bay. With more than 4,000 rushing yards in his career, Gaines finished his career at Heritage as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 1,032 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015.
Lankford-Johnson rushed for 1,814 and 22 TD’s in 2015, and if not for a nagging injury suffered at the end of the season, would likely have finished as the top rusher in Brevard County. Lankford-Johnson has five Division I offers from schools such as the University of Miami, Pittsburgh, Louisville and UCF and was named the top offensive player from the East squad of the Central Florida All-Star Game in December. As Lankford-Johnson’s lead blocker, Morris was more than just a player opening up holes and is highly respected as the area’s best fullback. Morris was a two-way player who was honored as third team All-State linebacker.
• WIDE RECEIVER – TIGHT END: Alex Cabrera, Viera Hawks; Jason Browning, Space Coasts Vipers; and Zach Armour, Cocoa Tigers. Cabrera hauled in 44 passes for 810 yards and 10 touchdowns. All three stats were second in the county to only his teammate, Tre Nixon.
Cabrera is committed to play football at Eastern Kentucky in 2016. Browning, who will return to the Vipers offense in 2016, finished 2015 with 37 receptions for 687 yards and six touchdowns. Zach Armour was as effective blocking as he was catching the football for the Tigers. Committed to play football at Florida International University next season, Armour averaged 25.3 yards per reception from the TE position with 10 catches for 253 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.
• ATHLETE: QB Bruce Judson, Cocoa Tigers. Judson missed two games due to injury in 2015 but still managed to generate 2,104 total yards and accounted for 28 touchdowns. Judson, who will be back for the Tigers next season, was selected as the first team All-State QB in Class 4A for the 2015 season.
• OFFENSIVE LINE: Bailey Herring, Merritt Island Mustangs; Juwaan Taylor, Cocoa Tigers; Jake Howell, Palm Bay Pirates; Rasheed Simon, Heritage; Kyle Haderle, Eau Gallie. At center, Herring, 6-foot-1, and 292 pounds, was selected first team All-State by the AP in Class 5A. Taylor, 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, is a Florida Gator commit and was a first team All-State selection. Howell is a 6-foot-3, 280-pound guard/center and was selected first team Class 5A All-State. Simon, 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, was selected third team All-State in Class 6A as a Sophomore. Haderle was a catalyst up front that helped open holes for two Eau Gallie backs to gain nearly 1,900 yards rushing.
• SPECIAL TEAMS: Lasedrick King, Heritage Panthers; Mason Denaburg, Merritt Island Mustangs; and Tristan Schultheis, Astronaut War Eagles. As a junior, King was responsible for 200 return yards and 1,280 all-purpose yards. He also added 13 touchdowns and contributed 80 points on offense. Denaburg is a 6-foot-3, 170-pound kicker who can routinely hit field goals from 40-plus yards with ease. Schultheis helped the War Eagles to flip fields with one punt and was selected Class 4A All-State.
• NEWCOMER: Jalen Mitchell, Rockledge Raiders. The Freshman RB rushed for 939 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015. With great speed and growth potential ahead, Brevard County teams will have their hands full with Mitchell and the Raiders.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
• QUARTERBACK: James Batch, Merritt Island Mustangs. Batch was an all-around threat in 2015, completing 66 percent of his passes. He had 1,578 passing yards and an impressive 2,300 yards of total offense.
• RUNNING BACK: Jashaun Corbin, Holy Trinity; Timmy Pratt, Cocoa; and Howard Stewart, Cocoa. With 1,865 yards, Corbin finished the season as the leading rusher in Brevard County. His 22 rushing TD’s tied for the county lead. Pratt, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior, led a deep Cocoa rushing attack with 1,683 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Stewart, in addition to his duties as a lead blocker for Pratt, rushed for nearly 700 yards and nine TD’s from the FB position for the Tigers.
• WIDE RECEIVER – TIGHT END: Tommy Mack, Titusville; Deben Petersen, Merritt Island; and C.J Bartley, Heritage. Mack had 35 receptions for 667 and 8 scores in 2015 and was selected to play in the Florida East Coast All-Star football game.
Petersen hauled in 56 passes for 580 yards and 3 TD’s, and Mustang head coach Jeff McLean said that Petersen is “one of the most electric players on the Space Coast.” Bartley had 18 catches for 218 yards and three touchdowns from the TE position for the Panthers.
• OFFENSIVE LINE: Hunter Ulrich, Viera; Cody Sumner, Satellite; Jim O’Connell, Melbourne Central Catholic; Joe Lopez, Heritage; and Auston Boystak, Bayside.
• ATHLETE: Jacquez Lyons, Rockledge Raiders. The senior quarterback contributed nearly 1,500 yards of total offense and scored 15 touchdowns.
• SPECIAL TEAMS: Matt Beardall, Merritt Island; Justin Johnson, Rockledge; and Brett Debusk, Heritage. The second team special team’s players are long snapper Beardall, kicker Johnson from Rockledge and punter Debusk. Beardall was a four-year varsity starter, while Johnson boomed 18 touchbacks in 42 kickoffs in 2015. Debusk averaged nearly 43 yards per punt for the Panthers this season.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
• DEFENSIVE LINE: Tre Reid, Heritage; Tanner Rowell, Melbourne; Peter DeMorat, Merritt Island; and Brandon Taylor, Palm Bay.
Reid was the defensive MVP for the Space Coast All-Stars as he registered 15 tackles, five of them for a loss and two sacks. In 2015, Reid sacked opposing quarterbacks 1.5 times and was selected honorable mention on the Class 6A All-State team. Rowell, at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, registered 34 total tackles and an amazing 21 of them were for a loss. He added six sacks and was selected third team All-State in Class 7A. DeMorat is a three-year starter and defensive captain for the Mustangs. He registered 52 tackles, five for a loss and 10.5 sacks in 2015. Taylor had 42 tackles, six for a loss, and 3 sacks for the Pirates in 2015.
• LINEBACKERS: Davonte Bartley, Heritage; Brandon Mays, Viera and Bobby Bruce, Titusville. Bartley, a senior, registered 141 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss. He also had eight sacks. Mays, who is just a sophomore, averaged nearly 11 tackles per game this season and had 11 quarterback sacks. Bruce had 119 tackles in 2015 and led a Terrier defense that finished the season with three straight wins.
• DEFENSIVE BACKS: Trevor Merritt, Viera; Will Erdman, Melbourne Central Catholic; Troy Hilton, Bayside; and Devell Taylor, Astronaut High. Merritt registered 78 tackles, five for a loss, one sack and one interception for the state runner-ups in Class 7A.
According to longtime MCC head coach Mike Riazzi, Erdman is “one of MCC’s top five players in its 50-year history.” The 5’-foot-11, 190-pound senior scored seven touchdowns in 2015. He hit pay dirt rushing and receiving and also returned an interception for a TD. On defense, Erdman registered 62 tackles and had two picks. Hilton shut down several top Brevard County receivers throughout the year and was credited with nearly 40 tackles. Taylor was equal to the task as The War Eagles defense allowed just 186 points in 11 games this season.
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
• DEFENSIVE LINE: Anotnio Pizatella, Cocoa Beach; Marco Foreman, Viera; Darian Abney, Heritage; and Mac Massengill, Astronaut.
Pizatella played in every game for the minutemen since the eighth grade and this season tied for the team lead in tackles and led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss. He was elected to the Florida East Coast All-Star Football game and made the All-District senior team. Foreman finished tied for second in the state with 19 sacks in 2015. Abney had 104 tackles and 16 sacks and Massengill, a 4 year varsity player, helped lead the War Eagles back to the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.
• LINEBACKERS: Jekevious Henry, Cocoa; Connor Kaminski, Melbourne; and Nate Silvea, Merritt Island. Henry had a 15 tackle night vs. Palm Bay and finished the season with 111 total tackles. Kaminski led the Bulldogs in tackles with 76. Silvea was also a Friday Night Locker Room Player of the Game in 2015 in a win over Palm Bay. His 15 tackles, 10 of them solo, helped the Mustangs clinch their fifth straight district title.
• DEFENSIVE BACKS: The second team defensive backfield consists of sophomore Javonn Roberson of Palm Bay, who led the Pirates with eight interceptions, senior Malik Folston of Viera had 74 tackles, junior Erik Askeland of Satellite finished the season with 6 interceptions, and junior Sean Diggs of Merritt Island who created havoc in the secondary all year for the Mustangs.
• DEFENSE AND OFFENSE: Astronaut – Harry Hampton; Astronaut – Jay Hawkins; Cocoa – Zach Beagle; Cocoa -Naceiya Gilmore; Cocoa – John Smith; Cocoa Beach – David Demeter; Eau Gallie – Jalen Shelton; Eau Gallie – Matt Wilson; Heritage – Matt Allaire; Heritage – Jumar Barnes; Holy Trinity – Matt Austin; Holy Trinity – Andres Fornes-Neuharth; Holy Trinity – Joc Perry; Holy Trinity- Joe Rauhofer; MCC – Jovan Simon; MCC – Josh Walts; Merritt Island – David Dufresne; Merritt Island – Brandon Montanez; Merritt Island – Taquan Pratt; MICS – Max Power; Palm Bay – Dez Arthur; Palm Bay – Stuart Brown; Palm Bay – Mitchell Cook; Palm Bay – Shamar Davis; Palm Bay – Chase Harris; Palm Bay – Twonnie Pollard; Palm Bay – Ozzie Samuel; Palm Bay – Brandon Taylor; Rockledge – Justin Gonzalez; Rockledge – Pryce Jennings; Satellite – Dylan Fogle; Space Coast – Steven Barny; Space Coast – Bradley Cantrell; Space Coast – Corn Fulton; Space Coast – TJ Jackson; Space Coast – Jonathan Kearse; Titusville – Jaleel Davis; Viera – Evan Cruz; Viera – Brennen Deplancke; Viera – Justin Harrison; Viera – Matt Martorelli.