By Chris Fish
PALM BAY -- One local school hopes to translate its academic success onto the gridiron as the first-ever football season for Palm Bay Academy is currently under way.
Principal Irving Rashkover said the new team, coupled with the cheerleading team, marks the first time athletics teams have competed at the academically "A graded" school.
"Many of the players have not played organized ball before this," he said. "The team plays hard, but, more importantly, displays a high level of sportsmanship."
The team's commitment was enough to see its first-ever victory, as it defeated Holy Trinity of Melbourne 12-0 on Thursday, Sept. 12.
"We get special compliments on the way we play the game," Mr. Rashkover said. "Coaches Kerry Collins and Mike Landress have done a great job of teaching them the right way to play in very short time."
Mr. Rashkover said the team's first victory was owed, in part, to the lessons learned from a defeat in its first game against Saint Edward of Vero Beach, where the Panthers lost 26-6.
"Football is not an easy game to learn and takes a high level of teamwork in order to successfully run plays," he said. "We learned a great deal from our first game."
Mr. Rashkover also applauded the work of the cheerleading squad.
"Coach Renata has done a great job organizing the cheerleaders, who attend our games," he said. "They inspire the players and parents."
Both the football and cheerleading teams are comprised of students between sixth and eighth grades.
Mr. Rashkover said he hopes to see the students continue to succeed in the sport this season, as well as possibly opening the chance of starting sports teams in the future.
"We hope to see a group of students, who enjoy the season, play hard, display good sportsmanship, learn to be a great team and get good grades, while having excellent classroom behavior," he said. "In the future, we are thinking of starting several more sports, including basketball and soccer."