IYAA C-Team (K-2nd) vs. Scurry-Rosser:
One for the young ages! — Entering the playoffs as the reigning 2009 Superbowl Champions, Italy’s IYAA C-TEAM Gladiators (K-2nd) and their incredible cheerleaders were the third seed playing against the second seed Scurry-Rosser Wildcats (7-1) on Saturday, in Scurry. On the line? The 2010 NESA C-Division Conference Championship title and, for the Gladiators, a returning trip to the Superbowl.
Italy’s C-Team started the season 0-2 after a 31-19 week two loss to the Wildcats. The youngest Gladiators in pads then embarked on a five game winning streak to finish in 3rd place within their C-Division and catapulted themselves into the first round of the playoffs.
Kicking to Scurry, Italy’s John Hall, a kindergardener, covered the onside kickoff for the Gladiators who quickly drove the ball deep into Wildcat territory. Penalties eventually stalled Italy’s initial drive and Scurry took control of the ball. On defense, a hard tackle by Jaiden Barr on Scurry’s talented quarterback, Jacob Stuard, sent an early warning to the Wildcats and set the tone for Italy’s rock ’em sock ’em defense.
In the second quarter Italy works their way onto Scurry’s side of midfield. Barr runs in for a Gladiator touchdown but a penalty erases the effort. Scurry keeps Italy out of the endzone as time expires and the game remains tied at halftime, 0-0.
The third quarter was highlighted by a devastating hit applied by Italy’s cornerback Julius Williams on Scurry’s Vontrell Williams who appeared to be headed for a touchdown. Vontrell slowly stood up on his cleats but he was not happy. In turn, V. Williams and Stuard made it difficult for the Gladiators offense to reach the endzone and the game remained tied after three.
Early in the fourth, the game’s first points came when Scurry’s Stuard escaped the swarming Gladiators defense and broke a 40-yard run into the endzone. Italy held their ground on the conversion try, with Rocklin Ginnett, Byron Davis, Bryce DeBorde and Preston Rasco leading the charge, but Scurry had a 6-0 advantage in the game’s final quarter.
After Ty Cash covered the Scurry kickoff at Italy’s 45-yard line, Italy’s offensive coach, Aaron Itson, guided the Gladiators down the field where Laveranues Green maneuvered around Scurry’s V. Williams and dove in for the game tying touchdown. The conversion attempt failed but the Gladiators showed their might and matched Scurry 6-6.
After the kick and with the ball, Scurry desperately wanted the win but Italy’s defense stiffened and stopped the Wildcats on fourth down, ending regulation with the game still tied 6-6. NESA representative Janie Stuckly met with both head coaches, Barry Byers of Italy and Joy Williams of Scurry, to coin flip for ball choice. Williams called tails but the coin landed heads and Byers chose to let his offense attempt to put pressure on the Wildcats.
Each team would get 4 plays starting from the 10-yard line and a chance for a conversion. If the game remained tied after the first overtime, the next possessions would start from the 20-yard line. To start the overtime, the Gladiators pushed the ball inside Scurry’s 10-yard line. Cash then handed to Barr who started left and then reversed his field to the right and outraced the Wildcats to the pylon for the go-ahead touchdown and a 12-6 lead.
On the conversion try, a false start penalty backed Italy to the 8-yard line. Rasco passed to Green who was interfered with giving Italy one more chance. Barr’s extra-point run came up short and the Wildcats began their first possession of the overtime from the 10-yard line.
The Gladiators rose to the challenge and kept the Wildcats’ backfield contained. On fourth and goal from the ten, the Wildcats were tackled for a loss and Italy’s IYAA C-Team ‘shocked the world’ by pulling off the upset to claim the 2010 NESA C-Division Conference Championship. “What an exciting game. This would have made a great Superbowl,” stated NESA’s Stuckly after the game.
Italy’s coaches and players stormed the field and the celebration began. The upset win improves the IYAA C-Team’s record to 6-2 and earns them a trip to the NESA Superbowl to be hosted by Rice in Blooming Grove on Saturday, November 20, at 10:00 a.m. With the recent tornado damage to Rice’s football stadium, Blooming Grove is graciously donating the use of their facilities with all the proceeds going to Rice. The IYAA C-Team will matchup against the undefeated Ferris Yellow Jackets (9-0) in the big game.
“Our offensive line played great. I’m proud of Taylor Sparks, who toughed out the game despite not feeling very terrific. Rocklyn Ginnett, Byron Davis, Isaac Gray, Julius Williams and Brennon Boyd gave us time in the backfield as well. Also, I thought our defense played their best game of the season,” commented Coach Itson.
The 2010 IYAA C-Team Roster:
Head Coach: Barry Byers
Assistant Coaches: Aaron Itson, Michael Davis, Cory Johnson, Shedric Walker
- 1 – Taylor Sparks
- 2 – Jalyn Wallace
- 3 – Jayvyn “Peanut” Azakytu
- 4 – Kevin Magness
- 5 – Joseph Phillips
- 7 – Damorion Sargent
- 9 – John Hall
- 10 – Darrin Jackson
- 11 – Dustyn Rose
- 12 – Triston Hayes
- 13 – Preston Rasco
- 14 – Byron Davis
- 21 – Laveranues Green
- 22 – Isaac Gray
- 26 – Joe Jackson
- 28 – Rocklin Ginnett
- 31 – Brennon Boyd
- 33 – Julius Williams
- 34 – Jaiden “Tootie” Barr
- 44 – Bryce DeBorde
- 61 – Ty Cash
IYAA B-Team (3rd & 4th) vs. Palmer:
Undefeated at 7-0 going into the Conference Championship playoff game, the IYAA B-Team Gladiators (3rd & 4th), the NESA B-Division’s reigning 2009 Superbowl Champions, faced what was considered their toughest competition during the regular season, the Palmer Bulldogs.
As expected, both teams seemed evenly matched. Defensively, the Bulldogs were able to fence in the breakaway talents of Gladiator quarterback Taron Smith for much of the first half. Likewise, Italy’s defense was difficult for the Bulldogs to navigate. Eventually, however, Palmer threatened to score with 0:45 remaining in the first quarter upon advancing the ball to Italy’s 15-yard line.
Ryder Itson, Gage Wafer and Garrett Cash combined for the stop to bring up second down and long for the Bulldogs with 0:25 left. Palmer then gained ground to the 9-yard line to end the quarter.
On third down, Smith sacks Palmer’s quarterback back at the 16-yard line. On fourth down, Italy’s defense jars the ball loose from a Bulldog runner and Itson recovers for the Gladiators. Italy starts with first and ten at the 17-yard line and 7:02 remaining in the first half. The Gladiator offense can only muster 5-yards before attempting a fourth down pass that falls incomplete. Palmer takes over on downs at the 22-yard line with 5:00 minutes still to play.
The Gladiator defense refuses to budge and Palmer launches a pass on fourth and thirteen that lands incomplete. Italy regains control of the ball at the twenty-two. The Gladiators work their way to the 40-yard line for a first down and then Itson carries for eight more to the 48-yard line, 0:57 left.
Smith throws two incompletions, one intended for Christian Cole and one intended for Itson, to bring up fourth down with 0:45 still showing. Smith turns a no gainer into an amazing 52-yard touchdown run but the play is nullified on a clipping call. The ball is spotted back at the 37-yard line of Italy, repeating fourth down.
Another pass from Smith to Itson draws a crowd and the ball lands in the grass. Palmer takes over with 0:10 left at Italy’s 37-yard line. The Bulldogs complete a short pass and get to Italy’s twenty-six. With 0:05 remaining, Palmer passes deep downfield but Smith leaps and intercepts the pass out of the cloudy sky to bring the first half to a close. With both sides jabbing but neither side falling, the score remains 0-0.
Palmer starts the second half from their own 47-yard line. On fourth and six, Cole makes a leg tackle to foil Palmer’s sweep play to the left and Italy takes over on downs. Italy gets tackled for a 12-yard loss back at their own 25-yard line. Smith breaks around left end to the forty-four. On fourth and short, Smith reaches the 36-yard line of Palmer but a penalty cancels the first down run. The ball is spotted at the Gladiators’ thirty-six, still fourth down. Smith carries again but only manages 5-yards and Palmer takes on over on downs at Italy’s 41-yard line.
Palmer’s next carry results in a fumble with Jaylon Davis recovering for the Gladiators at the 40-yard line. A few plays later, Itson lines up at wide receiver and drives the Palmer cornerback backwards to lead the way for Smith around the left end. Smith hustles to the 47-yard line of Palmer with 2:00 left in the third quarter. With center Michael Gonzalez out of the game with an injury, Drew Celis steps in at left guard to free up Donald Hayes who takes over as the snapper. The Gladiator offense continues to run smooth and Smith gains two more yards. Smith then breaks another big run to the Bulldog’s 9-yard line with 0:07 left in the quarter.
Coach Gary Wood relies on Smith once more and the fourth grader runs left and dives into the endzone to finally give Scurry-Rosser’s score keeper something to do. Smith passes to Ja’Sean Brooks in the endzone for the conversion attempt. Brooks dives for the catch but is unable to extend Italy’s lead, 6-0 Gladiators at the end of the third.
Palmer falls on the following kickoff at their own 22-yard line. Itson makes the tackle for no gain. Two plays later, a mishandled snap leaves Palmer with second and twelve, 6:49 remaining in the game. A near interception by Itson brings up fourth down and long for Palmer. A near interception by Miguel Martinez stalls Palmer’s drive and Italy takes over on downs at the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line, 5:55 showing on the clock.
Italy drains the clock and with 0:45 to play, Smith connects with Brooks for a 13-yard touchdown catch to put Italy up 12-0, 0:35 remaining. Ricky Pendleton is stopped short of the goal line but Palmer would need a miracle to get back into the contest.
After receiving the kickoff, Palmer tries a hail-mary pass but the prayer gets intercepted by Itson to dash any chances of a Palmer comeback. With 0:16 left, Smith takes a knee and the IYAA B-Team and their cheerleaders win the 2010 NESA Conference Championship game 12-0 over Palmer.
Coach Wood’s team will try to repeat as Superbowl Champions in Blooming Grove next Saturday and are scheduled to duel with the Scurry-Rosser Wildcats who held off Ferris for a 20-14 playoff win and earned an invite to the big dance. The B-Division game is set to kickoff at 11:30 a.m.
The 2010 IYAA B-Team Roster:
Head Coach: Gary Wood
Assistant Coaches: Sean Brooks, Addison Alexander, Mailen Davis, Aaron Itson
- 4 – Jaylon Davis
- 6 – Ryder Itson
- 7 – Francisco Lopez
- 8 – Jacob Wiser
- 9 – Addison Alexander
- 10 – Taron Smith
- 11 – Ja’Sean Brooks
- 12 – Michael Gonzalez
- 21 – Zorian Burley
- 24 – Gage Wafer
- 26 – Ricky Pendleton
- 28 – Garrett Cash
- 29 – Christian Cole
- 30 – Miguel Martinez
- 31 – Drew Celis
- 33 – C.C. Jones
- 40 – Tyvon Gates
- 56 – Donald Hayes
- 79 – Brennon Sigler
- 98 – Alex Garcia
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IYAA Bonfire Update:
After the Superbowl games have concluded on Saturday, November 20, the IYAA Bonfire party will start at 6:00 p.m. and everyone in the community is invited to share in the fun! The bonfire will be at the home of Darla and Gary Wood located at 1326 L.R. Campbell Road in Italy. Food will be provided but each family is asked to bring at least a six-pack of soda along with lawn chairs and/or blankets if desired.
Also, all players can are required to turn in their equipment at the bonfire party as well. Be sure your name gets checked off the list.
Special thanks to Michele Cash of TLC Photography and Latoya Anderson Hall for taking pictures on Saturday.