After the Chilton Pirates defeated No. 16 Mart 39-16 at the HEB Kickoff Classic in Waco on August 29th, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football announced that the Chilton High School Pirates football team had been named the Army Strong Team of the Week for Division 1A.
Needless to say, Chilton was a confident football team as they marched from their assigned locker room down to Willis Field in Italy Friday. Chilton was expecting to muscle around the Italy Gladiators but after Italy took an early 14-0 halftime lead, the Pirates were scrambling to right their ship that had been knocked way off course.
The Gladiators blasted away at the Pirates all night with a flury of bombs. Italy’s main cannon was the right arm of junior quarterback, Jasenio Anderson (11), who bombarded the rading Pirates with one touchdown bomb after another.
The Pirates air attack seemed like pea-shooters compared to Anderson’s arsenal consisting of Desmond “Arg” Anderson (8), John Isaac (10), Oscar “Gar” Gonzalez (3), Heath Clemons (2) and rising star Aaron Thomas (9).
Defending the Gladiator goal line is the responsibility of Italy’s defense led by, MLB Ethan Simon (50), NG-Zach Hernandez (63), LT-Ivan Roldan (60), RT-Ross Enriquez (55) and ends Jonathan Nash (65) and Kyle Wilkins (7). Unleashing hit after hit, these Gladiator “sea dogs” countered Chiltons every manuever.
Italy pushed Chilton’s offense back 24-yards forcing a Pirate punt by #85 Quinn Dominy, giving Italy a 1st and 10 at the Gladiator 40. Italy could only advance the ball to midfield but a J. Anderson punt into the endzone gave Chilton the ball on the Pirate 20-yard line after the touchback.
The Pirates would punt again but Italy fumbled the return giving Chilton new life at Italy’s 49. Chilton eventually worked the ball down to the Gladiator 9-yard line. However, after a holding penalty on the Pirates and big hit and tackle by Italy’s Simon, Chilton was faced with a 3rd and goal at the home teams 18-yard line.
Chilton’s quarterback Demeris Randolph (6) was then forced to throw the ball out of the back of the endzone, thanks to Isaac, who had Randolph’s intended receiver blanketed at the 0:30 mark.
Chilton then opted for a trick play that was stuffed by J. Anderson to give Italy’s offense a 1st and 10 on their own 16-yard line with 0:23 left in the opening quarter.
Clemons then hauled in a 26-yard pass from J. Anderson to end the quarter at the Gladiator 49-yard line.
Three plays into the 2nd quarter, Isaac caught a 47-yard touchdown pass, at the 10:56 mark, to give Italy a 6-0 lead. J. Anderson added the P.A.T. to make it 7-0 Gladiators.
Chilton had a long return on the ensuing kickoff but were unable to manufacture any points. Italy gained control of the ball, and on 3rd and 4 from their own 42-yard line, J. Anderson completed a pass to Oscar Gonzalez (3) to give Italy a 1st and 10 at Chilton’s 36, 7:18 remaining in the half.
J. Anderson then ran through the middle of the Pirate defense for 11-yards and another Italy 1st down. The run set up a roll out pass to Thomas who out leaped two Pirate defenders for his first touchdown catch of the season. The play gave Italy a 14-0 lead after J. Anderson’s P.A.T. counted, with 6:19 still left to play in the first half.
Chilton would threaten just before halftime moving the ball to Italy’s 20-yard line. On 4th and 4 with 0:43 left, Italy’s defensive tackle Roldan, wrapped up the Chilton runner from behind causing a fumble. However, the runner was called down before loosing the ball and a measurement gave Chilton a 1st down on Italy’s 16.
On 3rd and 3 from the 8 with 0:09 left, Ivan then tipped Randolph’s pass that just missed being intercepted by Italy’s D. Anderson. On 4th and 3 with 0:05 left, Randolph’s desperation pass was violently rejected by Isaac to the end the 1st half of play.
After a long Gladiator drive stalled, a 28-yard run by Chilton gave the Pirates a 1st and 10 at Italy’s 47. Isaac dropped the Chilton runner in his tracks making, what would have been, a touchdown saving tackle. Unfortunately for Italy, the Pirates dashed 47-yards on the next play to finally put points on the board.
Isaac intercepted the 2-point conversion attempt but was unable to return the ball for an Italy score. Italy was now leading 14-6 with 3:16 remaining in the 3rd.
Italy retaliated after J. Anderson completed a quick pass to Thomas, who stretched it into a 28-yard pick up, down to Chilton’s 10-yard line.
The third quarter ended with Italy having a 2nd and 8 on Chilton’s 8-yard line.
On 3rd and 8, after an incomplete pass, J. Anderson rolled left and cleared the outstretched hand of Chilton’s defensive end to find Clemons in the back left corner of the endzone. The precision pass stretched Italy’s advantage to 20-6 with 11:55 left to play.
Chilton’s Randolph then took charge for Clifton as he accounted for almost all of the 67-yards the Pirates needed for their second touchdown. Randolph took it in from 6-yards out to keep the Pirate’s heads above water. The effort made the score 20-12 with 8:11 remaining. Reality set in for the Gladiators as they realized the game was not over.
The Chilton celebration was short lived after the Pirate kickoff was fielded by Italy’s Isaac on the dead run for a 71-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The timely play kept Italy in control 26-12. The P.A.T was good by J. Anderson to make the score 27-12, 7:59 left.
Inspired by a big return that gave Chilton a 1st and 10 on Italy’s 29, the Pirates scored two plays later on a 12-yard touchdown pass. After getting the 2-points on the conversion, the score became 27-20 with 6:43 left.
After Chilton’s onside kick was recovered by Italy, the Gladiators offense just couldn’t be stopped as J. Anderson connected with Thomas again to setup a 1st and 8 on Chilton’s 8-yard line. 5:05 remains in the game.
After taking time off the clock, J. Anderson eventually navigated his way through the Pirate defenses, slipping 3-tackles, on his way to the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown run. With 3:52 left, Italy had a 33-20 lead after the P.A.T. kick failed.
In order to put 6-more points on the board, Chilton scored again in spite of a clipping penalty, a near interception by Italy’s Thomas at the Gladiator goal line and a constant raising of the arms by noseguard Hernandez that kept the Gladiator faithful pumped up. The successful P.A.T. kick, by Chilton’s Dominy, made the score 33-27. And with 0:13 left, the game was still not over.
Chilton’s 2nd onside kick attempt was recovered by the Gladiators. J. Anderson then dropped anchor on the Pirates, after taking a knee to run out the remaining 0:03. Head coach Craig Bales and his Gladiators collected Italy’s first bounty of the season, 33-27 over Chilton. The Pirate’s Jolly Roger flag never looked so sad.
Italy’s record is now 1-1, thanks to the Gladiators’ garrison holding off a furious rally by the Pirates, who scored 21 points in the fourth quarter.
With Italy’s compass pointing toward a Champion ship, the Gladiators now have the Palmer Bulldogs in their scope, and will play away in Palmer next Friday at 7:30 p.m.