Italy’s Jr. High and JV Gladiators scrap with the Palmer Bulldogs

Image: Italy’s Ryan Connor(17) completes a pass to teammate Chasston King(20) with Bulldog’s paw in his line of sight.

Italy’s Ryan Connor(17) completes a pass to teammate Chasston King(20) with Bulldog’s paw in his line of sight. (Barry Byers)

Jr. High game:
Seeing their first action of the 2011 season, the Italy Jr. High Gladiators stood sandal to paw against the Palmer Bulldogs in what proved to be an even matchup.

With the 7th and 8th grade squad combined, Ryan Connor handled the quarterback duties for Italy with his primary weapon being tailback Jaray Anderson. On Italy’s opening possession, Anderson broke for a touchdown but had the accomplishment nullified on an offensive penalty.

The ensuing snap sailed over Connor’s helmet and the Bulldogs covered the loose ball at Italy’s 49-yard line. Palmer drove the ball to the 33-yard line of Italy as the first quarter ticked away.

Palmer started the second quarter with a first down run to the 23-yard line with Italy’s Joe Celis forcing the Bulldog runner out-of-bounds. Three plays later, Palmer completed a 23-yard pass for the games first official touchdown and took a 6-0 lead. A run up the gut added two more and Palmer led 8-0 with 6:37 to play in the first half.

Italy’s Anderson returns the following kickoff 105-yards thanks to a bellowing block delivered by teammate Kenneth Norwood, Jr. Unfortunately, the block by Norwood was ruled an illegal blind-side hit as a second Italy touchdown never made it onto the scoreboard.

Connor completes a flat pass to Chasston Wilson but Italy’s drive eventually stalls and the Gladiators are forced to punt. 

Palmer put together a long drive but consecutive tackles by Celis and a hard hitting tackle in the Bulldog backfield applied by Connor helped stall the drive and Italy regained control of the ball at their own 7-yard line. Two plays later the half ends with Palmer still in front 8-0.

Italy scores early in the third quarter with Jaray Anderson doing the honors. The 2-point conversion falls just inches short of the goal line as Palmer holds on to an 8-6 advantage.

In the fourth quarter, Palmer threatened to score again but a fumble recovery by Kevin Johnson gave Italy one more chance for the win. Italy advanced the ball to midfield but were unable to get the needed yards on fourth down. The Bulldogs kneeled down on the following play to secure an 8-6 win.

The Jr. High Gladiators will play their next game on Thursday, September 15, at home against Hubbard starting at 5:00 p.m.

2011 Italy Jr. High Football Roster:

6 — Joseph Celis
7 — Dylan McCassland
8 — Darren Cisneros
10 — Cameron Carter
17 — Ryan Connor
18 — Kevin Johnson
20 — Chasston King
22 — Fabian Cortez
24 — Jorge Galvan
28 — Levi McBride
30 — Hunter Ballard
32 — Jaray Anderson
33 — Devon Bowles
36 — Eli Garcia
50 — Aaron Pittmon
51 — Austin Pittmon
52 — Michael Hughes
54 — Aaron Latimer
56 — Elliot Worsham
57 — Kenneth Norwood, Jr.
60 — Adrian Acevedo
72 — James Walton
70 — David De La Hoya
77 — Brandon Connor
88 — Mason Womack
99 — Carl Jaynes
84 — Ty Windham
68 — Justin Robbins

JV game:
The Italy JV squad known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’ became the ‘Fighting Eleven’ on Thursday with teammate Shad Newman out of action with the flu. Early on, it seemed eleven would be more than enough as quarterback Justin Wood raced 65-yards to give Italy a quick 6-0 edge. Wood powered in a keeper for the conversion to increase the JV Gladiator advantage 8-0 at the 8:47 mark of the first quarter.

Palmer quickly countered and sprinted 72-yards on their first offensive play from scrimmage to tighten the deficit, 8-6. Palmers quarterback avoids the grasp of wood in the Bulldog backfield and plunges in for the game tying conversion, 8-8.

Wood gets a solid return to Italy’s 41-yard line but the Gladiators fumble at midfield on the next play and the Bulldogs go back on offense. Palmer carries to the forty-one of Italy with Hank Seabolt making the tackle. Palmer completes a 41-yard touchdown pass on the next play to go up 14-8. Palmer’s quarterback reaches the far left cone for the conversion to take a 16-8 lead, 6:50 left in the first.

Cody Medrano returns the ensuing kickoff to the 32-yard line of Italy. Wood runs for 6-yards working behind his offensive right tackle Kelton Bales. Wood runs for the first down on the next play but fumbles. Fortunately, teammate John Escamilla covers the loose ball to conserve the possession for Italy. The JV Gladiators are unable to push forward and a Wood punt leaves the Bulldogs with a first down at midfield. On the next play, Palmer’s running back cuts back against the grain and gallops 50-yards to distance the Bulldogs on the scoreboard, 22-8. Palmer’s quarterback keeps right for the conversion and the Bulldogs lead 24-8 with 1:36 still to play in the opening quarter.

Italy continues to struggle on offense and Palmer gets control of the ball to start the second quarter. The Bulldogs try to pass but a deflection by Cody Boyd and a brutal hit delivered by Escamilla on Palmer’s exposed receiver, sending the Bulldog to the sideline, helps force Palmer to turn the ball over on downs with 5:03 to play in the first half.

Neither side can accumulate any more points before halftime and Palmer leads 24-8 at the break.

Palmer has two touchdowns called back during the third quarter due to penalties, including the second half kickoff, as Italy’s ‘Fighting Eleven’ manage to shut out the Bulldogs in the third.

With the score still 24-8, Palmer takes advantage of Italy’s eleven tired players and connects on a bomb attempt early in the second half with Escamilla making the touchdown saving tackle at Italy’s own 23-yard line. The third quarter ends with the Bulldogs sniffing at the goal line.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, a caught pass in the endzone puts Palmer up 30-8. The conversion failed but the damage was done with 8:47 left in the contest.

Italy doesn’t go down without a fight, and a determined Wood ducks, darts and sprints his way into the endzone to make the score 30-14. Wood then follows guard Darol Mayberry in for the conversion to make the score more respectable, 30-16. The game wound down, as did the clock, and Palmer held on for the win.

The JV Gladiators will play their next game on Thursday, September 22, at home against Red Oak Life starting at 7:30 p.m. (Subject to change). There will be no JV football home game this week since Hubbard does not have a JV team.

2011 Italy JV Football Roster — The Dirty Dozen:

25 — Shad Newman
48 — Justin Wood
72 — Colin Newman
75 — Kelton Bales
52 — Bailey Walton
88 — John Escamilla
58 — Darol Mayberry
32 — Cody Medrano
85 — Chace McGinnis
10 — Kyle Fortenberry
76 — Hank Seabolt
36 — Cody Boyd

Go Italy!