The Italy Gladiators scrimmaged the Waco Reicher Cougars this past Friday night at Willis Field in Italy. Meeting the challenge, Italy had a very strong showing against a proven football program. In fact, the Cougars have won 9 TAPPS Division state championships since 1958 with the most recent title wins being in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
However, the Cougars and their very impressive resume did little for them during the scrimmage against the Gladiators. The Cougars did manage to cross the goal line twice early in the matchup, but as the warm night played out, the Gladiators defense turned up the heat. Both sides finished the night playing a simulated game quarter. And it was during this stanza, in particular, that the Gladiators showed their might. The Cougars offense gained few yards against the Italy defense and punted on fourth and long in succession.
Afterwards, head coach of the Gladiators, Craig Bales, was simply unable to hide his excitement after his team’s completion of two successful scrimmages. “There are plenty of positives we can take from this experience. Our focus was to work on our defensive formations more than it was to stop the Cougars, yet, we still frustrated their offense,” explained Coach Bales.
Italy quarterback, Jase Holden, is learning on the fly but showed that his athleticism can overcome any breakdowns during a play. With a skilled stable of running backs, which includes: Ryheem Walker, Kyle Jackson, Chase Hamilton and Ethan Saxon, the Gladiators are set to make solid run this season.
The Gladiators will take on long time rival, the Maypearl Panthers, at home in Italy on Friday, August 26, at 7:30 p.m. This will be the first preseason game for Italy and the bleachers are expected to be packed.