The IYAA C-Team Gladiators show grit on season’s biggest stage, the Superbowl!

Image: IYAA C-Team assistant coaches Shedric Walker and Michael Davis, along with waterboys Gary Escamilla and Tylan Wallace, look on as head coach Aaron Itson talks with his k-2nd grade players before their Superbowl game against Ferris.

IYAA C-Team assistant coaches Shedric Walker and Michael Davis, along with waterboys Gary Escamilla and Tylan Wallace, look on as head coach Aaron Itson talks with his k-2nd grade players before their Superbowl game against Ferris. (Barry Byers)

Making their 3rd straight appearance into the NESA C-Division Superbowl, the 2nd seeded IYAA C-Team Gladiators were matched against the 1st seeded Ferris Yellow Jackets, a Superbowl rematch from a year ago.

The two teams met earlier in the season with Ferris winning in overtime, 12-6, so Italy’s coaches were anticipating another close game. Ferris relied on their sizable offensive line to muscle their way up and down the field while Italy’s defense forced the Yellow Jackets to earn every yard.

Cornerbacks Rodney Williams and Jalyn Wallace, along with defensive ends Isaac Gray and John Hall, Jr., were tasked with keeping the Yellow Jackets contained while linebackers Laveranues Green and Julius Williams patrolled the middle. Darrin Jackson and Hayden Ellis were the safeties while Byron Davis, Taylor Sparks, Gabe Martinez, Christian Martinez and Kevin Magness dealt head on with the Jacket’s beefy middle.

The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie, however Ferris scored the game’s first touchdown after the Yellow Jacket runner broke away from several Italy tacklers and eluded Jackson to reach the endzone, 6-0 Ferris. The Yellow Jackets stung the Italy defense, once more, in the final minute of the first half with an inside-out run to give Ferris a 13-0 advantage at halftime.

C-Team Gladiator head coach, Aaron Itson, motivated his team at halftime to put up a fight and to finish strong. Italy’s players responded but Ferris was still able to move the chains although they were unable to break the big runs.

On 4th and goal from the 1 inch line, Ferris tries to sneak into the endzone. The ball is fumbled and a scramble ensued beneath the goal post. Ellis had the best shot at it for Italy but the original back who fumbled the ball for Ferris recovered it in the endzone for the Yellow Jackets’ 3rd touchdown of the game. A completed conversion pass made the score 21-0.

After the ensuing kickoff, Green ran a quarterback keeper to the left, behind lead blocker J. Williams, and then cut back right and outran the swarm for a 50-yard touchdown to put Italy on the board, 21-6, with 4:27 left in the contest. Williams’ onside kick was perfection as the ball hopped over the front line of Ferris and then bounced thru the hands of Jackets’ returners allowing Italy’s speedster, Hall, to dive on it for the C-Team Gladiators.

Hall rose to his cleats and was astonished at the noise level and excitement he had helped create in Italy’s stands as the fourth-quarter proved to be one of the loudest moments of the season. Cheering fans, horns blasting and cheerleaders high-kicking with a crosswind that carried all that spirit across the field and into the laps of the Ferris Faithful.

The back-to-back big plays executed by Italy opened the door for a fourth-quarter comeback but the resulting drive stalled and Ferris eventually took a knee to win their second consecutive C-Team Superbowl. Congratulations, Yellow Jackets!

Both teams shook hands at midfield as Italy’s C-Team players and cheerleaders gathered to receive their trophies. As their names were called out over the stadium loud speaker, Coach Itson presented the players with their trophies and then C-Team cheer coach, Jessica Posey, presented the cheerleaders with their trophies.

With trophies in hand, smiles began to flash along with cameras, one after another, as the players and their cheerleaders began to fill with a sense of pride. Afterall, Italy and Ferris had outlasted 7 other teams in their division to reach this point. The players were not concerned with the final score, instead, they asked coaches but one question, “Did I play good?” And the answer was always an enthusiastic, “You played amazing, it was your best game of the season!”

The IYAA C-Team Gladiators (K-2nd) and their C-Team Cheerleaders finished the season in 2nd Place within their division, defeated Scurry to win their Conference Championship game 12-7 and then held their trophies high as the 2011 NESA C-Division Superbowl Runner-up with a 6-3 overall record!

In the remaining two Superbowl games, the Palmer Bulldogs defeated the Ferris Yellow Jackets 18-0 to win the B-Division (3rd & 4th graders) Superbowl. The Ferris A-Team pulled off the upset to defeat the Mildred Eagles, who were undefeated going in, 6-0, for the A-Division (5th & 6th graders) Superbowl victory.

2011 C-Team Cheerleader roster:

  • Taeja Anderson
  • Mia Droll
  • Farrah Eglihc
  • Cadence Ellis
  • Brianna Hall
  • Jordan Posey
  • Erin Roberts
  • Justice Shelby
  • Kascie  Shifflet
  • Karley Sigler
  • Taylor Souder
  • Jada Williams

Cheer Coaches:

  • Jessica Posey
  • Courtney Rudd

The 2011 C-Team Gladiator roster:

1 David Martinez
2 Jalyn Wallace
3 Hayden Ellis
4 Willie Talton
5 Damien Wooldridge
9 John Hall, Jr.
10 Laveranues Green
21 Adrian Rodriguez
22 Dustyn Rose
26 Canaan Richters
28 Lane Shifflett
30 Isaac Gray
34 Rodney Williams
40 Christian Martinez
55 Damorian Sargent
56 Kevin Magness
61 Curtis Benson
67 Gabriel Martinez
80 Darrin Jackson
81 Bryce Ballard
84 Taylor Sparks
88 Julius Williams
97 Joseph Phillips
99 Byron Davis

Team Awards:

Practice Warrior:

  • Laveranues Green, Dustyn Rose, Taylor Sparks, Damien Wooldridge, Bryce Ballard

Team M.V.P.:

  • Laveranues Green

Co-Offensive Player of the Year:

  • Darrin Jackson & Julius Williams

Defensive M.V.P.:

  • Byron Davis

Defensive Player of the Year:

  • Rodney Williams

Co-Newcomer of the Year:

  • Bryce Ballard & Hayden Ellis

Top Offensive Lineman:

  • Isaac Gray, Byron Davis, Gabe Martinez, Bryce Ballard, Taylor Sparks, Dustyn Rose

Most Improved Offensive Lineman:

  • David Martinez, Dustyn Rose, Damorian Sargent, Joseph Phillips

Top Defensive Lineman:

  • John Hall, Jr., Byron Davis, Isaac Gray, Christian Martinez, Gabe Martinez

Most Improved Defender:

  • Jalyn Wallace, John Hall, Jr., Kevin Magness

Most Team Spirit:

  • Curtis Benson


  • Rodney Williams, Byron Davis, Julius Williams, Laveranues Green, Kevin Magness, Christian Martinez

Newcomer To Watch

  • Lane Shifflett, Curtis Benson, Hayden Ellis, Damien Wooldridge, Bryce Ballard, Canaan Richters, Chistian Martinez, Adrian Martinez, Willie Talton

Special thanks to Ferris for hosting the 2011 NESA Superbowl games, to the Navarro Ellis Sports Association and to the IYAA players, cheerleaders, coaches and volunteers.

IYAA Sports, “The winning tradition starts here.”