Italy — With coach Jon Cady guiding the junior high Gladiators from the sideline and quarterback Tylan Wallace, tailback Kendrick Norwwod, halfbacks Kyle Tindol and Jonothan Salas driving the mud caked chariots up and down the field, Italy plotted their way to a 24-6 district opening victory.
Helping out Italy’s offense was the defense with Jacob Wiser recording a sack and a fumble recovery, Clay Riddle recovering a fumble and Anthony Lusk intercepting a Wampus Cat pass thanks to pressure by Riddle on Itasca’s quarterback.
Riddle also anchored the offensive line at center with Cason Roberts, Byron Lusk, Jr., Cade Roberts, Alex Garcia and the rest of the big heavies getting the job done for Italy.
Norwood scored the first TD with Tindol darting in for the conversion to put Italy up 8-0. Later in the first half, Wallace handed off to Tindol who dashed in for Italy’s second touchdown thanks to a de-cleater by Gary Escamilla downfield, 14-0. For the conversion, Salas crossed the goal line with little trouble thanks to blocks by guard Hunter Morgan(64) and receiver Chasston Wilson(9) who sealed the edge to put Italy up 16-0.
Itasca made the game interesting with under a minute in third-quarter when a long run turned into a touchdown scamper to tighten the matchup 16-6. Tindol ran into the endzone with 6:54 left in the contest to make the score 22-6. Salas added the conversion with a quick burst to the left to put Italy further in front, 24-6.
With Halloween fast approaching, Italy put nail in the coffin when Salas bounded downfield for one last touchdown. Italy’s JH Gladiators added the conversion to make their record 1-0 in district play by annihilating the Cats 32-6.
With coach Brandon Gansky running the show, running back Eli Garcia put Italy’s JV Gladiators in control of the game when he was nudged across the goal line by his quarterback Joe Celis(2) to give the home team a 6-0 edge, 8:15 still remained in the second.
Italy struck again in the second-quarter when Celis threw deep, deep to receiver Dylan McCasland who had gotten behind Itasca’s safeties to make the catch and then won the foot race to the endone. McCasland’s heroics gave Italy a 14-0 cushion at halftime.
After an Itasca touchdown, Italy responded when a run by Justin Wood put Italy up 20-6 late in the third-quarter. The JV Gladiator defense kept the Cats caged up throughout the fourth-quarter with linemen Aaron Pittmon, Austin Pittmon, Celis and David De La Hoya, who had a batted down pass in this one, bulling the visitors.
Also playing well for Italy were Colton Grant and Fabian Cortez who never shied away from contact and turned in big plays for their team. Grant was a beast running the ball and at linebacker while Cortez intercepted one pass and nearly another to keep Itasca from mounting a comeback. Throw Wood into the mix of playmakers for Italy and Itasca never had a chance.
Taking care of the dirty work for Italy were Ty Windham, Elliott Worsham, Ray Salas, Hunter Ballard and Kyle Machovich and Kenneth Norwood, Jr., who played both ways and handled the punting duties for Italy to help the JV Gladiators start their district campaign with a win over Itasca, 20-6.