Italy — The Gladiator 7th grade squad appeared to be on their way to a shutout victory after two touchdown runs by workhorse Jonathan Salas, and a 2-point conversion catch by Chasston Wilson seemed to all but end Sunnyvale’s chances. Italy lead 14-0 with just 2:59 left in the opening game of a triple-header Thursday night at Italy’s historic Willis Field.
Unfortunately for the young Gladiators, Sunnyvale scored a touchdown and then successfully kicked the point-after to make the score 14-7 with 1:57 remaining.
Alex Garcia covered Sunnyvale’s onside kick attempt, but moments later, Italy threw an interception which put Sunnyvale within striking distance of Italy’s goal line. Sunnyvale used a screen pass in the game’s final seconds to score one last Raider touchdown to tighten the deficit 14-13. With no time left on the clock, Sunnyvale opted for the 2-point conversion try and completed a pass into the endzone to win the game 15-14.
8th grade action:
8th Grade running back Kyle Tindol scored his first touchdown as a Gladiator while teammate Kendrick Norwood relentlessly sliced his way thru, around and beyond the Sunnyvale defense to keep Italy in the game.
Norwood was a human highlight real during the game and blasted thru Raider defenders and into the end zone to make the score 26-22 with Sunnyvale still in the lead. Norwood ran in the 2-point conversion as well but Sunnyvale held on in the remaining minutes to win 26-24.
With a couple of their teammates playing up on varsity, and with key injuries helping to keep the ground attack grounded, Italy’s JV Gladiators led by quarterback Joe Celis and linebacker Kenneth Norwood, Jr., just keep plugging away no matter what the challenge or who their opponent might be.
Italy’s massive line with David De La Hoya, the, “Beast Brothers,” Aaron Pittmon and Austin Pittmon, Austin “The Chosen” Crawford, Adrian Acevedo “The Legacy,” Elliott Worsham and newbie Samuel Corley and Norwood could be the stuff of the legends over the next couple of seasons. For now, however, its all about learning a new system and working to get better everyday.
Thursday night, Sunnyvale was the challenge and Italy’s future battled their tail pads off from start to finish. In the end, Sunnyvale handed Italy its third consecutive loss but the Raiders did little to detour the next great Gladiators from their path of destiny.
Their are some exciting new faces involved this season for Italy’s JV football program including Aaron Latimer, Colton Grant, Jorge Galvan, Kyle Machovich, Crawford and Corley who give it all they have on every play. The new guys lean heavily on grid iron veterans Ty Windham, Eli Garcia, Dylan McCasland, Hunter Ballard, Fabian Cortez, Celis, Norwood, De La Hoya and the Pittmon towers who have seen it all and survived it all before.