1940 Gladiators – A Winning Tradition #5

It has been 70 years since the 1940 Italy Gladiators were undefeated and unscored on. Bill Bryant was a graduate of Italy High School and the Sports Editor for the Italy News Herald. The following is his fifth article of the season.

It is with great sadness that we must post that Bill Cantrell, one of the surviving 1940 Gladiators, passed away on September 1, 2010. He will be truly missed by his family and friends, but the legacy he helped build in the 1940 Gladiators, will live on. Our sympathies go out to his family.

Frost Victim No. 3 of Rejuvenated Gladiators, Score 43-0

Mixing a surprisingly effective aerial attack with their usual good running game, Italy High’s flash Gladiators scored almost at will to defeat the Frost Polar Bears 43-0 last Friday night at Willis Field before some 450 enthusiastic fans to increase their hopes for an undefeated season. This was their third straight win, having previously walloped Mansfield and Whitney by large scores.

Except for penalties, the locals would have tallied at least two more touchdowns. About the midway point of the third quarter, with Italy in the lead by 25-0, Frost was daringly shooting the ball around in a desperate attempt to score. With the leather on the Italy 49 and first and ten for the Bears from that point, McClure took the snap and tossed out a wide lateral toward Parum. Walter Williams dashed in from left end, snagged the ball in mid-air, cut over to the side lines, and outran the Frost safety-man to gallop over unmolested for a touchdown. But the play was called back and the Gladiators penalized for off sides nullifying Williams’ beautiful 51-yard scoring jaunt. This was truly the prettiest run made by either team all night, and it seems a shame that it had to be killed because of the penalty.

Another Warrior touchdown was called back in the final period when, after returning Howell’s kickoff to his 9 yard line following Italy’s fifth TD, Parum of the visitors fumbled on a try into the line. Cecil Couch traced the bounding pellet back behind the Polar Bear double stripe and fell on it for a touchdown. But the referee called the play back and ruled that Leonard Rienzi had kicked the loose ball across the goal line, assessing the Gladiators five yards for said violation of the rules.

The Gladiators completely outclassed their opponents in every department of the game. They rolled up a total of 239 yards gained, 202 by running attack and 37 by air. Frost, on the other hand, was able to amass only 40 yards rushing and 53 passing, for a total gain of 83 yards. The first downs were in favor of the Gladiators, nine to five.

Vasco Baucom, Cecil Couch, Walter Williams and Leonard Rienzi were the standouts in the Italy line. Their brand of blocking and tackling seemed surer than that of the rest of Warriors in the forward wall. Lester Fuston and Ned Hearn also draw plenty of praise for their brilliant offensive and defensive work. On more occasions than one, these lads pulled down enemy ball-toters when it seemed certain that they were gone for a touchdown.

They too are commended for their masterful exhibition of pass snatching in this battle – Fuston, tall, rangy and glue fingered is the kind of a wing-man rival coaches dream about while Hearn, though he isn’t quite as tall and heavily-built as Fuston, is just as good an end, both on offense and defense. Fuston and Hearn combined to bring in a majority of the passes thrown by Wild Bill Howell and Jimmy Walston, most of which gained much-needed yardage at opportune times.

Billy (The Sniper) Howell, Edward Batte, Rod Williams and Winston Riddle starred in the backfield for the Warriors; Howell not only did the fancy galloping that he is famous for, but he took up the passing job as well. He completed five out of eight throws for a .625 average, which isn’t at all bad passing in high school football circles.