With all the excitement and fanfare that has become synonymous with the IYAA (Italy Youth Athletic Association), opening day was no different on Saturday as the pee-wee Gladiators sent a statement to their new league, the NEH (Navarro Ellis Hill). The cheerleaders sported new outfits while cheering their teams into battle as the players busted thru the banners. Of course, the K-2nd graders were allowed a running start just to make sure they penetrated the banner on the first try.
C-Team (K-2nd grades):
Italy — On the season’s first offensive play, the IYAA C-Team fired off the ball, received solid blocking from their offensive line, anchored by veterans Taylor Sparks, Gabe Martinez and Bryce Ballard, and then quarterback Jaylon Wallace handed the ball off to John Hall who ran 55-yards for a touchdown. The point after run was good and Italy’s C-Team led 7-0 early.
Italy continued its dominance and built a 21-0 halftime lead under the offensive direction of coach Mark Souder. Defensively, Italy’s C-Team was just plain stingy as several players made tackles for Italy. Hall was exceptional as the rover and Wallace was equally impressive making the reads from his linebacker position. Curtis Benson made tackles as well as recovering a fumble. In fact Italy’s youngest Gladiator football players covered every short kick and loose ball the Eagles laid on the ground.
Ballard and Sparks were strong defending the middle while tacklers Lane Shifflett, Damien Wooldridge, Adrian Alverez, Dustyn Duke and Kevin “Bubba” Magness, Hall and Wallace helped keep Mildred scoreless.
The game ended with Benson dashing 90-yards for what would have been his first career touchdown. The run was negated by a penalty but the mission was accomplished. Italy’s C-Team opens with a win, 21-0 over Mildred.
B-Team (3rd & 4th grades):
After loosing their starting tailback Laveranues Green to an injury, Italy’s B-Team was left with only 11 players to take on a talented Mildred squad. Kudos to head coach Andy Saxon and his team for continuing the fight. Italy’s offense had to wing it against the Eagles with Green out of the lineup but quarterback Jayden Saxon relied on all his weapons to move the ball. Bryce DeBorde recorded Italy’s lone touchdown as Mildred went on to win 20-6.
A-Team (3rd & 4th grades):
Italy’s A-Team head coached by Aaron Itson set the pace and led by two touchdowns early with Ryder Itson leading the way at quarterback. The Mildred Eagles clawed their way back to make the score 20-19 late in the fourth quarter.
Newcomer Jonathan Salas recorded two interceptions during the game for Italy, fellow newcomer Cade Brewer was a beast out of the backfield and Alex Garcia anchored A-Team’s hard working offensive line to help Italy get the win over Mildred, 26-19.
Thanks to all the volunteers for helping with the gate, concessions and game clock and chain crews. Special thanks to Larry Mayberry, Sr., Ervin Green, Gary Escamilla and John Hall, Sr.