Playing teams from other states has become a trend among Brevard County programs, and Palm Bay will open the area’s high school football season with a game against a team from Colorado on Thursday at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World.
The game against the Columbine Rebels will kick off at 6 p.m. on field 17 of the complex.
For the Pirates, it will mark another regular-season opener against a challenging opponent. Palm Bay faced Cocoa last year and Heritage the year before. Despite a 24-7 loss to the Tigers last August, head coach Dan Burke said the game contributed to the team’s progress.
“We turned the ball over twice early but in the end found out some things about our team, and it was then we settled on Stuart Brown as our quarterback,” he said. “You always learn more from playing a good opponent. Win or lose, they will expose you.”
Preseason rankings paint Columbine, a 2011 state champion, as a good opponent. The Rebels were state semifinalists in Colorado’s largest class (5A) last year, going 12-1 and losing on a missed extra point. In a recent article, the Denver Post referred to quarterback Mikey Griebel as “one of the best playmakers in the state.”
As a running back last year, he rushed for 1,480 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The Disney facility is hosting several early season games. On Sept. 2, Heritage will play Dakota Ridge of Littleton, Colo.
Last week, Palm Bay faced Santaluces in its preseason game. The Pirates won, 47-0. B.J. Daniels rushed for 114 yards, scoring on a 53-yard run. Brown completed touchdown passes of 9 yards to Dez Arthur and 16 to A.J. Dotti.
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Columbine, Colo., vs. Palm Bay
ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World
Tickets $17.50 adults; $12.50 ages 3-9
Last year: Columbine went 12-1, nine wins coming by more than 20 points. The Rebels lost in the state semifinal round, 21-20. Palm Bay qualified for the Class 5A playoffs and finished 8-3. It was the program’s 19th postseason appearance in 20 years.
Game note: Regular-season opener for both teams. Eagles coach Andy Lowry has led the team to double-digit wins in three of the last five seasons.
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