The JV Gladiators set the tone for Saturday’s scrimmages against Valley Mills

Image: The Italy JV Gladiators make a statement on the first play when left tackle John Byers(56) brings down a Valley Mills Eagle for a loss.

The Italy JV Gladiators make a statement on the first play when left tackle John Byers(56) brings down a Valley Mills Eagle for a loss. (Barry Byers)

Italy — On their home field and starting on defense, the Italy JV Gladiators set the tone for the Saturday morning scrimmages against Valley Mills early when right tackle John Byers made a tackle in the Eagle backfield for a loss on the first play of the contest. Left tackle Colin Newman met the next Eagle runner at the line of scrimmage where he manhandled the fledgling Eagle to the ground. The Eagles responded with a first down pass but another tackle by Byers and an Eagle fumble in the backfield helped Italy return Valley Mills to the 30-yard line starting point. Moments later, Cody Boyd tackles an Eagle back for a 7-yard loss to end the 10 play opening offensive segment for Valley Mills.

Italy gets their chance on offense with Kyle Fortenberry at center and Ryan Connor at quarterback. Runs by Jaray Anderson and Tre Jackson draw the Eagle defense in. Connor counters with a long pass completion to receiver Levi McBride for the first big play of the scrimmage. In scoring position, Italy drives down to the goal line but fumbles on the next play to bail the Eagle defense out.

The Eagles get another 10 plays starting on their own 30-yard line. Italy linebacker John Escamilla shoots thru the right A gap to bring the Eagle quarterback down. Bailey Walton tracks down an Eagle back near Italy’s home stands to ignite the crowd. Noseguard Justin Robinson and John Hughes combine to bring down a back with authority. Hunter Merriman catches an Eagle ball carrier from behind to minimize a nice gain by Valley Mills. Anderson applies pressure on the quarterback forcing a hurried pass that falls incomplete. Kyle Fortenberry makes a nice form tackle on the play off the left C gap of Valley Mills. Anderson comes off the edge to hit the quarterback before he can pass causing the Eagle pass attempt to drop like a dead duck. Anderson records a 9-yard sack to end the second 10 play offensive segment for Valley Mills.

Italy begins their final 10 offensive plays with a run up the gut by Jackson. Connor drops back and throws a deep out pattern to cousin Brandon Connor who picks up a devastating block by Merriman to gain additional yardage to the forty-two of Valley Mills. Italy’s next two runs result in a loss of 5-yards. Undiscouraged, R. Connor drops back and hits Boyd in stride who races all the way to complete a 47-yard touchdown pass play. Italy picks up a first down after two runs by Jackson and R. Connor to end the JV scrimmage on a positive note for Italy, clipping the Eagles 1-0.

Go Italy!

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