Everybody loves homecoming, because it means parades, old friends and football. The highlight of a homecoming weekend is an easy victory over a weak opponent, and that is most often the result of good scheduling.
The Space Coast Vipers played in five home games this year. That’s more than half the games on the team’s schedule so far, but a recent history of losing lots of games made the Vipers an enticing pick as an easy opponent.
However, Space Coast won four of those games.
“I think that really shows a lot as to how far we’ve come,” Vipers head coach Jake Owens said Thursday. “This whole thing has been about a fresh start.”
The program Owens inherited last year in mid-season hadn’t had much to celebrate. The Vipers have made only one playoff appearance.
Well, two now. After going 1-9 a season ago, Space Coast is 6-3 entering tonight’s game against rival Titusville. More importantly, the Vipers have a game the following week as well, a Class 4A regional quarterfinal meeting at Clewiston.
“That’s really the goal. Every coach’s goal, or I would think so, is to make the playoffs,” Owens said. “I know that was our number one goal.”
The Vipers got there by spreading the ball out and playing improved defense. Quarterback Nick Rittenhouse has passed for 2,085 yards and 19 touchdowns. His top receiver, Alec Dansereau, has 63 catches for 820 yards and 10 scores, but it doesn’t stop there: Devon Cannon with 38 catches for 485 yards, Chase Colantino with 31 for 341 and Alex Cavender 21 for 249.
“That’s our offense,” Owens said. “The numbers are there, and numbers don’t lie.”
There’s a thought Elijah Milledge would likely repeat. He is among the county’s top tacklers with 75 stops, and he has 10 sacks as well. The Vipers haven’t created a fearsome defense yet, but they’ve improved. Among those six wins was a big one at Port Orange Atlantic when the Vipers held the Sharks to nine points. The 20-9 win vaulted the team into the playoffs.
“That’s the biggest win in school history as far as I’m concerned,” Owens said. “Win and you’re in is a tough situation, and it was their homecoming.”
Tonight, the Vipers will get another big test against a high-scoring Titusville team, and if they pass the following one on Nov. 15 at Clewiston, the Vipers likely will return to Brevard County to play a regional final game at Cocoa the following Friday.
Now, that would be quite a homecoming.
Harmony W, 43-26
at Eau Gallie L, 42-35
Celebration W, 48-7
at Cocoa Beach W, 27-20
Jones W, 28-24
at Poinciana W, 63-38
Cocoa L, 49-7
Viera L, 42-24
at Atlantic W, 24-9
at Titusville Tonight, 7