Ready, set, hut! Area teams kick off

Ready, set, hut! Area teams kick off

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Ready, set, hut! Area teams kick off

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Three weeks into ­August practice for Florida high school football teams, a picture of the 2014 season has begun to take shape.

Today, it will clear significantly as teams play preseason games from Titusville to Palm Bay and outside the county. Most games kick off at 7.

Two defending district champions will play in the county, both on the road. Merritt Island, last year’s Class 5A, District 12 winner, will visit Viera, while Melbourne, the 2013 Class 7A, District 12 champ, will be at Titusville.

Both teams have plenty to learn.

“We lost every skill position starter on offense,” Mustangs coach Jeff McLean said. “Those are holes we’ve got to fill.”

Up front, his linemen are experienced and big, and that will be a primary challenge for an improving Viera program that has some top skill talent, including junior receiver Tre Dixon, whose several major college scholarship offers include the Florida Gators.

Melbourne will have a bit of an interesting look. Like Merritt Island, the Bulldogs have a promising offensive line — center Parker Kempfer will be a fourth-year starter — but Cooper Christiano will take over at quarterback. He will be one of the speedier quarterbacks in the county.

But the Melbourne defense has been the stalwart under Wilson, and it will be tested by a Titusville offense that looks to have talented athletes across the field.

“We’ve seen them on film, but what if they do something different?” Wilson said recently. “Overall, how are we going to do as a team at all those things you have to do to win?”

At least three of the area’s top teams, including two defending district champions in Heritage and Melbourne Central Catholic, will play outside the area. The Panthers travel to Gainesville, while the Hustlers travel south to face John I. Leonard in Palm Beach. Palm Bay, with 18 consecutive playoff appearances to its credit, will play against a long-time adversary and measuring stick, Vero Beach.

Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or bmccallum@floridatoday.com. Follow high school sports news on Twitter @321preps.

Tonight’s games

• Astronaut

at Bayside, 7

• Melbourne

at Titusville, 7

• Merritt Island

at Viera, 7

• Space Coast

at Satellite, 7

• Eau Gallie

at Rockledge, 7

• Palm Bay

at Vero Beach, 7

• Heritage

at Gainesville, 7

• MCC at

John I. Leonard, 7

• Cocoa Beach at

Lafayette, 7:30

• Holy Trinity

at Liberty, 7:30

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