Game 1, C-team(K-2nd):
The first game of the day was between the Italy C-team, head coached by Gary Wood, and the Blooming Grove Lions. Blooming Grove tried an onside kick to start the game but an alert Holden Schrotke recovered for the IYAA Gladiators.
On Italy’s first offensive play, quarterback Ricky Pendleton raced 50-yards for a touchdown to put the IYAA Gladiators up 6-0. Bryce Deborde carried the ball across the goal line for the 2-point conversion to make 8-0, and Italy was off and running.
Pendleton launched the kick over the Lions’ heads pinning Blooming Grove deep. Two plays later, DeBorde recovered a fumbled snap with the help of “A” gap specialist, Levi Stark, to setup a touchdown dash by Christian Cole to make the score 14-0 putting Italy in control.
Later in the 2nd half, after Italy had successfully executed an onside kick, Pendleton hit Ja’Sean Brooks with a pass who ran untouched 40-yards for the next Italy touchdown to make it 20-0.
While Blooming Grove struggled to take a snap from under center, Italy’s shotgun snapper, Michael Gonzalez, was on the mark all game. It was another day at the office for offensive linemen Stark, Schrotke, J. Brooks, Gage Wafer, Will Brooks and Omar De La Hoya as they kept Lion tacklers occupied.
A fumble recovery by Schrotke(2nd) setup a 35-yard touchdown run by J. Brooks, who was now in the game as the backup quarterback. The effort made the final score 26-0 putting the C-team record at 1-0.
Defensively, two tackles for losses by cornerback Tyvon Gates, set the tone for the C-team who held the Lions to negative yards, no 1st downs, no points and no chance…a complete shutout.
Ja’Sean Brooks was chosen as C-team’s Player Of The Game with 2 touchdowns and good defensive line play.
Game 2, B-team(3rd & 4th):
The second game featured Italy’s B-team, head coached by Ken Norwood, against the Lions as well. Quarterback Tylan Wallace and running back Taron Smith led the IYAA Gladiator attack with a little help from the B-team’s Player Of The Game Kendrick Norwood.
It may just be the Italy defense, known as the, “Tenacious Eleven”, that takes the B-team all the way this season. Italy’s B-team also shutout the Lions and won by a score of 26-0. The game was highlighted by a Smith run and dive into the endzone, just catching the pylon, to score the touchdown and make a statement for the B-team to the rest of the division.
Game 3, A-team(5th & 6th)
The heavy-weight match was between the Italy A-team Gladiators, head coached by Jason Escamilla, and the Blooming Grove Lions.
A much improved A-team from a year ago, Italy was holding it’s own against the Lions until a 2-point safety by Blooming Grove, in the 2nd quarter, gave the kings of the Jungle momentum.
After the safety, Italy had to kick the ball to the Lions who took advantage of the good field position. Scoring before the half ended, Blooming Grove had a lead at the break 8-0.
Italy’s offense, led by quarterback Ryan Connor and running back Ken Norwood, Jr., made plays but were never able to complete a drive and cross the goal line.
Coach Escamilla felt the A-team defense played well and chose Joseph Celis for the A-team Player Of The Game as a result of a solo tackle Celis made in the Lion backfield on a sweep play. Coach Escamilla said, “Joseph executed perfectly as he read the play and made a perfect form to tackle to bring down the runner.”
The Lions added 8-points more in the 2nd half, to go up 16-0, allowing them to leave Willis Field with some pride and avoid the 3-game sweep by the IYAA Gladiators.
After each Homecoming game, the IYAA cheerleaders and players were given gifts as a token of appreciation for all the hard work each youngster puts in to helping make the IYAA fun for all.
Also, a special thanks goes out to the volunteers who helped work the concession stand, clock, chains, cleanup crews, gate crews and the moms who worked to get mums just right. We also wish to thank Italy Athletic Director, Craig Bales, for allowing the IYAA to use the Willis Field facilities…it was a great day of football and cheer!
The IYAA, “The winning tradition starts here.”