Italy’s JV Gladiators block-and-awe the Maypearl Panthers

Image: Game captains for Italy’s JV Gladiators, Hank Seabolt(76) and Bailey Walton(52), watch the coin toss before their team’s game against Maypearl. 

Game captains for Italy’s JV Gladiators, Hank Seabolt(76) and Bailey Walton(52), watch the coin toss before their team’s game against Maypearl.  (Barry Byers)

The Italy JV Gladiators, known as the ‘Dirty Dozen,’ were actually the ‘Dirty Bakers Dozen’ on Thursday with help from sophomore, Trevon Robertson, who is expected to move up to the varsity squad in the near future. As it turned out, thirteen players proved more than enough for Italy as they powered their way over the Panthers in a 32-6 rout.

Basically, Italy’s JV offensive line consisting of Kelton Bales, Darol Mayberry, Colin Newman, centers Bailey Walton and Kyle Fortenberry, Zain Byers and Hank Seabolt pounded the Panther’s defense into submission as quarterback Justin Wood darted thru vast openings in Maypearl’s defenses to help lead Italy to a 32-6 trouncing.

On their opening drive, Italy methodically marched down the field grinding out first downs to the Panther 25-yard line. Wood then went to the air and found Robertson who powered his way to the one and reached the ball over for a touchdown. Wood ran left for the conversion and Italy’s patient drive resulted in an 8-0 advantage, 4:25 left in the first quarter.

Maypearl wasted no time in responding and dashed 65-yards for a touchdown on their first offensive play to make the score 8-6 with 4:06 still on the clock. Maypearl’s conversion attempt was met in the hole by Bailey Walton from his linebacker position to preserve Italy’s 2-point lead.

Again mounting a ground-gaining drive, Wood scored off a cut-block from left guard Zain Byers to increase Italy’s lead, 14-6. Wood blasted in for the conversion and Italy led 16-6 with 2:24 remaining in the opening quarter. Italy’s Shad Newman delivered a big hit on the ensuing kickoff forcing Maypearl to start from their own 32-yard line as the first quarter came to a close.

Maypearl’s hopes to keep the game within reach were foiled when Byers reached the Panther quarterback just as he released a pass and the resulting duck was hauled in by Walton who made a dazzling over the shoulder interception and then quickly advanced the ball deep into Maypearl territory, 2:05 still to play in the first quarter.

Walton’s pluck setup a second touchdown pass from Wood to Robertson who made the grab despite tight coverage by Maypearl’s defenders to give Italy a 22-6 cushion. The conversion run by wood counted and the JV Gladiators had a dominating 24-6 lead with 1:59 on the clock.

Italy’s ensuing kickoff by John Escamilla careened off a Panther lineman and was recovered by Byers who was the first to dive on the available ball. Escamilla’s trick kick gave Italy the ball back at Maypearl’s 48-yard line as they game neared halftime. In fact, the Panthers struggled getting a handle on Escamilla’s kicks all game. Wood carried the ball to the 38-yard line of the Panthers as he ran past the blocks of Kelton Bales, Cody Medrano and Darol Mayberry. Unfortunately, Italy’s drive began going backwards and Maypearl regained control of the ball with 1:24 left and the ball at their own forty-seven.

Maypearl’s half ended with Bales forcing a pitch from the Panther quarterback to his tailback who was caught in the backfield by Shad Newman and Medrano as Italy held their 24-6 lead at the break.

Italy added one more touchdown in the second half when Shad Newman plunged across the goal line from 1-yard out. Wood hit Cody Boyd on a slant pattern for the conversion as the JV Gladiators went on to win 32-6. The statement win by Italy set the tone for the entire season, not just the JV team, but for Italy’s varsity players, as well, who were cheering from the bleachers throughout the game.

Gladiator athletic director and varsity head coach, Craig Bales, said to his offensive line after the game, “Unbelievable job. The back judge even commented on how impressed he was with our line’s performance.” JV head coach, Josh Ward, complimented his troops as well, and with that, both towns begin preparing for the Friday night showdown between these long-time rivals.

Go Italy!

Comment from Jane, 8/29/11-8:32pm

AWE!Some—I wish I could have been at the JV game last week, but with a great run-down and amazing photographs, I knew exactly what went down. What a nice compliment given to the Italy dirty dozen by the official. Keep up the good work JV and keep the media coverage coming! – Jane