Gladiators celebrate homecoming with a 48-0 win over Jaguars

Image: Can you Believe we just did that? Believe it! — Gladiators Bobby Wilson(64), Devonta Simmons(9), Heath Clemons(2) and De’Andre Rettig(60) happily discuss the events that lead to a 93-yard touchdown run by Clemons during Italy’s 48-0 Homecoming win over Hubbard.

Can you Believe we just did that? Believe it! — Gladiators Bobby Wilson(64), Devonta Simmons(9), Heath Clemons(2) and De’Andre Rettig(60) happily discuss the events that lead to a 93-yard touchdown run by Clemons during Italy’s 48-0 Homecoming win over Hubbard. (Barry Byers)

ITALY — The Italy High School Homecoming Parade made it’s way thru downtown Italy lead by the Gladiator Regiment Band and returned to the campus for a pre-game pep rally where the Italy High School Cheerleaders performed and Homecoming King Nominees Jasenio Anderson, Colton Campbell, Heath Clemons, Ethan Simon and Kyle Wilkins were announced.

Also announced were the 2010 Homecoming Queen Nominees including Maria Estrada, Shelbi Gilley, Jessica Hernandez, Amber Mitchell and Melissa Smithey.

Alma Suaste was selected Junior princess, Anna Viers was selected the Sophomore Princess and Ryshia Copland was selected as Freshman Princess.

Anderson was crowned the Italy’s 2010 Homecoming King but fans would have to wait until halftime of the football game for the announcement of Italy’s 2010 Homecoming Queen.

Italy’s Varsity, Junior High and IYAA pee-wee cheerleaders did pre-game cheers as the players from both schools warmed up. Before the kickoff, several IHS graduating classes were honored:

  • Italy’s 1940 undefeated and unscored upon football team and their surviving members which were Cecil Windham, Ned Hearn, Jimmy Walston and Jim Ward.
  • The class of 1960 represented by Peggy Brown McDaniel, Sue Davis Batte, Annette Ince Hooser, Margaret Feaster Epperson and Garlin Bell.
  • The class of 1991 represented by IHS Board Member Curtis Riddle.
  • The class of 1970 represented by Cristy Barnes and Kevin Bean.
  • The class of 1929 represented by 100-year old Loreen Mauldin Bryant who continues to be filled with Gladiator pride!

Italy’s defense sent an early message to the Jaguars when tackles by Kyle Wilkins and Corrin Frazier forced Hubbard to punt on their opening possession. The Gladiators drove the field on their first turn, and with 5:54 left in the opening quarter, Italy’s Kyle Jackson followed right tackle Larry Mayberry into the endzone giving Italy a 6-0 lead over Hubbard. The point after by Jasenio Anderson was true making the score 7-0.

Hubbard tried again but Jackson, Bobby Wilson and Wilkins launched a viscous assault on Jaguar quarterback Cole Hill, dislodging him from his helmet, resulting in a second punt by Hubbard, with 0:46 left in quarter one. A short reception and long run by Italy’s Heath Clemons gave Italy a first down at the 32-yard line of Jaguars. Anderson, at quarterback, ran thru the middle, cut left and then back to the right for Italy’s second touchdown, 13-0 Gladiators. The point after kick by Anderson counted to put Italy up 14-0 with 0:14 remaining in the first.

In the second quarter, Anderson added a 7-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left before half which helped to distance the Gladiators from Jaguars, 20-0. The point after kick sails wide. No worries, however, as Italy added two more touchdowns before halftime. A catch and run, and then a spin move, catapulted D’Andre Sephus into the endzone. The 2-point converison catch by Jase Holden gives Italy a 28-0 advantage. And with only seconds left in the first half, a 93-yard pass play to Clemons left the Jaguars facing a 34-0 deficit at halftime.

The Gladiator Regiment Band performes followed by the introductions of the Homecoming Queen Nominees with each receiving an arrangement of yellow roses. And Italy’s 2010 Homecoming Queen is….Shelbi Gilley! Shelbi receives the Homecoming Queen sash and a bouquet of yellow roses from Megan Richards and Ryan Ashcraft. Drew Windham, Italy’s 2009 Homecoming Queen, officially crowns Shelbi the 2010 Homecoming Queen.

In the second half, a second touchdown run by Jackson from 5-yards out made the score 41-0 by the end of the third. On defense, Italy’s front line continued to play violently and tackle De’Andre “Rig” Rettig separated Hubbard’s Hill from his helmet once again. Adrenalin infused Gladiator defenders played inspired football leaving it all on the field. In fact, despite not feeling well before the game, lineman Jacob Lopez played relentless before exiting the game late in the third with heat exhaustion.

Clemons, Campbell, Frazier, Holden, Sephus and Devonta Simmons make up Italy’s athletic secondary and are charged with enforcing the ‘no flight zone’ at Willis Field. On Friday night, the group contained the enemies passing attack with a seek-and-destroy mentality. Although Hubbard’s offense completed 9-of-12 passes, the Jaguars only averaged 3-yards a catch by games end.

Solid performances were also turned in for head coach Craig Bales and defensive coordinator Jeff Richters by linebackers Ethan Saxon, Simon, Wilkins, Jackson and Anderson. Against the Jaguars, Friday night was simply a wild safari ride for the Gladiators as the ‘Beast’ (Anderson) and his buddies did some big game hunting. There were even a few Zebras in the area.

Along with a solo tackle for Italy’s special teams earlier in the contest and making plays on defense, a 15-yard scoring run by Chase Hamilton setup an an accurate point after kick by Anderson with 6:41 remaining in the fourth. The last few minutes tick away and the scoreboard reveals that Italy dominates for the second week in a row and earns the Homecoming win, 48-0 over Hubbard.

The lineman up front including, Mayberry, Wilson, Simon, Lopez, Omar Estrada and Brandon Souder, powered Italy’s ground attack which gained 399 rushing yards and totaled over 500 yards of offense while the defense held Hubbard’s offense under 100 yards. Heath Clemons ran for a total of 127-yards on three carries. Jasenio Anderson completed 7-of-9 passes to six separate receivers and carried the ball 11 times for 88-yards.

Italy’s rushing stats:
Jasenio Anderson 11-88, Jalarnce Lewis 4-76, Ethan Saxon 3-26, Kyle Jackson 3-13, Heath Clemons 3-127, Justin Buchanan 2-9, Chase Hamilton 4-38, Kyle Wilkins 1-1, Colton Campbell 2-21.

Italy’s receiving stats:
De’Andre Sephus 1-30, Heath Clemons 2-51, Jase Holden 1-17, Kyle Wilkins 1-(-1), Devonta Simmons 1-8, Kyle Jackson 1-30.

Special thanks to everyone who participated during Homecoming week. From the businesses downtown who adorned the streets of Italy with Italy Gladiators flags with pride to the countless number of fans who cheered from the sidelines. From those who took the time to decorate and enter a float in the parade, to those entrusted with having Willis Field and the players ready for the big game.

Also, a special thanks to the members of the Gladiator Booster Club and Constructors, Inc. for printing the Homecoming programs and making the coverage of our town’s week-to-week events possible. How fortunate we all are to have each other to lean on and to have a great group of students representing our town.

The Gladiators will again play at home next Friday, September 24, against Red Oak Life starting at 7:30 p.m.

Keep Going Gladiators, We Believe!