Italy vs. Stamford for the Class A state semifinal championship; continued:

Image: Marvin Cox(3) tries to pass Italy out of trouble while Cody Medrano(75) and Ryheem Walker(10) give him time to throw.

Marvin Cox(3) tries to pass Italy out of trouble while Cody Medrano(75) and Ryheem Walker(10) give him time to throw. (Barry Byers)

Mineral Wells — Italy started strong and finished strong but Stamford dominated the in-between to end an 8 game win streak by the Gladiators, a streak that catapulted Italy into the state semifinal matchup against the 12-1 Bulldogs. When both teams punted after their first possessions, it seemed Italy might be able to make a game of it against last year’s state runner-ups and favored Stamford, but the visions of being the first Gladiator team to reach the state title game began to vanish as the Bulldogs trotted into halftime with a 21-0 lead.


To Italy’s credit, the players never quit battling even when a 35-0 third-quarter deficit glowing on the scoreboard was about the only image that could be seen with any clarity from Italy’s sideline during a rash of heavy rains that drenched the second half. Stamford added another touchdown in the fourth but quarterback Marvin Cox and the Gladiator offense avoided the shutout with a 42-yard TD run by Cox. Ryheem Walker ran in for the conversion behind center Kyle Fortenberry, guards Kevin Roldan and Zain Byers and tackles Cody Medrano and Zackery Boykin to complete the scoring, 41-8 in Stamford’s favor.

In a showing of sportsmanship after the final buzzer, both sides respected the playing of each team’s school songs and then all coaches and players joined together in group prayer.

However, the rains and the loss to Stamford failed to dampen the pride Gladiator fans had for their team in the season’s final moments. Gladiator Fan of the Year Billy Ray Turner cheered for the players as rain drops splashed off the brim of his cap and band members, along with the rest of the Italy High School student body and alumni, danced in the rain to help push the team all the way to the end. It was a display of pride and a showing of support for the players who have accomplished so much under first-year head coach Hank Hollywood.

Never picked to win a playoff game, the Gladiators lived up to their team motto, “Tough People Win,” and reforged a path for the next squadrons of ITA soldiers to follow, claiming four playoff championships as well as the District 6-1A District Championship in the process.

A special thanks to the seniors on this year’s Gladiator squad who never wavered in their pursuit for Gladiator glory and congratulations on finishing as quarterfinal champions and State semifinalists — the fourth Gladiator team to reach the semifinals in the history of Italy High School. That’s the stuff of legends…

The Italy Gladiator 2012 Semifinal Roster:

  • #2 Chase Hamilton — Senior
  • #3 Marvin Cox — Senior
  • #4 Trevon Robertson — Junior
  • #6 Caden Jacinto — Senior
  • #7 Ryan Connor — Freshman
  • #8 Hayden Woods — Senior
  • #9 Cole Hopkins — Senior
  • #10 Ryheem Walker — Senior
  • #11 Reid Jacinto — Senior
  • #12 Eric Carson — Junior
  • #15 Cody Boyd — Sophomore
  • #21 Jalarnce Lewis — Senior
  • #25 Shadrach Newman — Junior
  • #36 Ty Windham — Freshman
  • #45 Hunter Merimon — Freshman
  • #50 Zain Byers — Junior
  • #55 Zackery Boykin — Senior
  • #56 John Escamilla — Sophomore
  • #58 Darol Mayberry — Junior
  • #60 Kevin Roldan — Junior
  • #62 John Hughes — Senior
  • #64 Adrian Reed — Senior
  • #66 Kyle Fortenberry — Sophomore
  • #72 Colin Newman — Sophomore
  • #75 Cody Medrano — Junior
  • #77 Brandon Connor — Freshman
  • #80 Kelvin Joffre — Senior
  • #85 Levi McBride — Freshman


  • HFC/AD Hank Hollywood
  • Nate Skelton
  • Brian Coffman
  • Brandon Duncan
  • Josh Ward
  • Wayne Rowe
  • Larry Mayberry, Sr.

We are proud!