Abby DiCenzo with Head Football Coach Willie Murphy after her history-making performance in the Bell Creek Academy’s varsity game against Berean Christian School.

By Lily Belcher

Abby DiCenzo, a sophomore at Bell Creek Academy, became the first girl to score a rushing touchdown in a varsity football game in Florida history on September 24. Her touchdown, the last of the game against Berean Christian School, gave the Bell Creek Panthers their second win of the season.

The middle linebacker and fullback began playing flag football when she was 9 years old and has been playing tackle football since she was 12. The Riverview teen earned a spot on Bell Creek Academy’s varsity football team in her freshman year because of her talents and training that has given her the skills to dominate on the field.

“Abby is hardworking, dedicated, intelligent, charismatic and a general pleasure to be around,” said Roshonda Exantus, head athletic trainer and football coach for Bell Creek Academy.

Abby’s talents and dedication extend off the football field as well. She is an honors student, a member of Bell Creek Academy’s student government, a member of its show choir and a wrestler for the Bell Creek Academy wrestling team.

“She has earned the ‘attitude and effort’ award multiple times, as well as our school’s principal award and spirit award,” said Abby’s mother, Melissa DiCenzo. “I love her spirit and attitude.”

Abby said she has been able to balance extracurriculars and her schoolwork through her time management skills.

“To be honest, I just get done what needs to be done so nothing is keeping me off the field,” explained Abby.

She was able to become the first female to score a rushing touchdown in Florida with the help of her friends, family, teammates and Coach Willie Murphy, who she said has supported her throughout her time on both Bell Creek Academy’s football and wrestling teams. While her supporters have helped her, Abby’s accomplishment is a testament to her personal training and dedication to her sport.

“This accomplishment shows me that my hard work does have rewards and it shows my progression from last year,” said Abby. “I am honored I had this opportunity and hope it inspires a lot of people to do what they love no matter the cost.”

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