The high school football teams from Melbourne Central Catholic and Space Coast Jr./Sr. High are coming from different directions, but both head coaches promise fans the same thing from today’s spring game: Excitement.
The Hustlers and Vipers are the only game in Brevard County today, but the next seven days will be loaded with football as high school programs wrap up their spring practice periods. MCC hosts Space Coast at 6 p.m.
Despite missing some injured offensive linemen, Hustlers coach Mike Riazzi said he hopes today’s game will feature quarterback Brandon Ziarno moving around the pocket, Max Erdman taking a short pass and turning it into a long gain and receiver Kyle Taylor catching a few deep.
“We never want people to say we’re boring,” Riazzi said. “We’re going to throw it, and then we want to be physical on defense. We had such a great offseason in the weight room, and now it’s time to finish the spring and get back on the weights.”
While MCC went 5-5 and made another trip to the regional playoffs, Space Coast went through a midseason coaching change and finished 1-9. The visiting Vipers will be continuing their first full offseason with new head coach Jake Owens, who took over three games into the 2012 season.
“Now they’ve had an offseason under me. That obviously makes a huge difference,” Owens said. “This team, I can put my stamp on.”
Owens said participation is “way up,” but he trimmed the roster to 40 to 45 for today’s game. Twenty will be seniors in the fall, and Owens seemed to think one major change fans will see from the Vipers is confidence.
“I don’t accept mediocrity,” he said. “Failure is not an option. We expect excellence.”
That will start with senior-to-be Nick Rittenhouse at quarterback. He ran an effective offense last fall and could get better protection from a retooled offensive line. One of today’s tests will be to see if the defense can rise to meet that level.
“I want to see execution on both sides of the ball,” Owens said. “I want to see us convert third downs on offense, and I want to see the defense get off the field on third down.”
Spring Game Schedule
» Space Coast at MCC, 6 p.m.
» Pine Ridge at Eau Gallie, 6
» Oak Ridge at Palm Bay, 6:30
» Merritt Island at Heritage, 7
» Cocoa Beach at Melbourne, 7
» Viera at Satellite, 7
» Seabreeze at
» East River at
» Martin County at Rockledge, 7
» Miami Northwestern at Cocoa, 7:30
» Bayside at Orlando Jones, 7:30
» John Carroll at Holy Trinity, 7