Bedford — With the band playing loud and proud, the Italy Gladiators received a heroes sendoff from the Italy High School campus at 3:00 p.m. on Friday. Italy Police Chief, Diron Hill, provided a police escort for first-year head coach, Charles Tindol, and for his coaching staff and players as they waved to the cheerleaders, the student body and to the fans from the bus windows.
The destination? Pennington Field in Bedford, where an area championship matchup awaited, the Gladiators against the Collinsville Pirates. Italy won this game last season against Valley View and was hoping for some of the same magic.
From the get-go, unfortunately, the Gladiators faced an uphill battle in the drizzle against the Pirates after senior quarterback TaMarcus Sheppard suffered a high ankle sprain late in a scoreless first-quarter.
The Pirates scored first, just 0:48 into the second-quarter, to take the helm and the lead, 7-0. After the ensuing kickoff, Italy’s offense was penned deep on their side of the field where they would remain for the remainder of the half. With the quarter winding down, Collinsville threatened to score again but Italy’s defense held with Bailey Walton, Kevin Roldan, Darol Mayberry, Zain Byers, Coby Bland and Shadrach Newman helping to contain the skill players of the Pirates and make a goal line stand.
For a moment, it looked as though the Gladiators would be able to keep the game close as Sheppard tried vigorously to return to action with help from team trainer Jackie Cate. While Sheppard’s return remained in doubt, Italy’s offense relied heavily on its vaunted offensive line with junior Kyle Fortenberry at center, Byers and Cody Medrano at the guards and Roldan and Mayberry at the tackles. Expecting the run, however, Collinsville packed in tight on defense.
After a quick three-in-out with senior backup quarterback Tyler Anderson and the offense unable to gain any momentum, a shanked punt gave the Pirates the ball at Italy’s own 18-yard line. Sheppard returned at outside linebacker but the Pirates took advantage of a stacked defensive front by the Gladiators and completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to their tight end open in the end zone. The score, with 0:56 to play before half-time, gave Collinsville a 14-0 advantage.
With the wet conditions on the field, Italy struggled in the passing game and failed to runout the final seconds of the half. Collinsville then blocked a Gladiator punt and picked it up and hustled into the end zone for their third touchdown of the second-quarter. With 0:04 on the clock, the Pirates fired another cannon ball thru the uprights to distance Collinsville 21-0 at halftime and ripple a shiver of doubt into Italy’s locker room.
With Sheppard unable to return to the reins for the Gladiator offense, Italy remained backed up near their own end zone the rest of the night. Anderson had a few nice runs on keepers, his longest a gain of 17 yards, but backs Newman and Coby Bland were constantly bombarded by Pirate tacklers with Collinsville loading the box.
There were a few bright spots for Italy on defense with junior Cody Boyd intercepting a Pirate pass and Byers, a senior at defensive end, recording 3 sacks and making 4 tackles for losses. Roldan, also a senior defensive end, batted a Pirate pass into the air which was caught behind the line by the Pirate quarterback. Roldan then crunched the QB turned receiver into the wet turf for a loss. Senior tackles Walton and Mayberry were active with Walton recording 9 total tackles (2 for losses) and Mayberry unloading the boom on a couple of Pirate ball carriers over the course of the game.
Italy’s passing game remained grounded which helped Collinsville keep standout senior receiver, Trevon Robertson, and sophomore playmakers, Levi McBride and Ryan Connor in check, along with junior Cody Boyd who just missed completing a flea-flicker pass late in the game. Collinsville added another touchdown from 40-yards out in the third-quarter and one more in the fourth-quarter to win handily 35-0 and finish off the Gladiators who had reached the semifinals last season.
The Pirates celebrated their bounty by hoisting the Area Championship trophy during a post game celebration at midfield. And with that, the torch has been passed to the next Gladiator team that is already plotting its course back to the playoffs.
We are proud of our seniors who have given so much of themselves to the program with several playing since they were in pee-wee. Your accomplishments have been noted and your names will live on as part of Gladiator lore. Your examples of leadership and dedication will inspire those that follow you, and for that, we thank you!
“I would like to thank all of Italy for your support and for believing in our boys. I hope everyone is as proud as I am at the amount of effort these boys gave this season. I’m also so impressed with our community who make being a Gladiator something special to all our kids. I put a lot of stock in effort in heart and this bunch of kids had both, which made for some really exciting and memorable games! I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my coaching staff. They work hard, led by example and have believed in our program and our players.” — AD/HFC Charles Tindol
The 2013 Italy Gladiators (6-5,5-0) went undefeated in district 6-1AD1 to claim the district championship, earn an automatic bi-district championship and finish as area finalists.
Tindol’s Trophies — vs. Collinsville:
- Overall MVP — Shad Newman
- Offensive MVP — Kyle Fortenberry
- Defensive MVP — Zain Byers
- Special Teams MVP — Coby Bland
- Top Offensive Lineman — Darol Mayberry
- Top Defensive Lineman — Bailey Walton
- Hitman — Zain Byers
ITALY OFFENSIVE STATS:
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ITALY DEFENSIVE STATS:
ITALY SPECIAL TEAMS:
2013 Player Of The Year Awards (Selected by coaching staff):
- Overall Team MVP — TaMarcus Sheppard
- Offensive Team MVP — Tre Robertson
- Defensive Team MVP — Zain Byers
- Offensive Lineman MVP — Darol Mayberry
- Defensive Lineman MVP — Bailey Walton
- Special Teams MVP — Kevin Roldan
- Hitman MVP — Shad Newman
2013 Italy Gladiator Varsity Football Roster:
JV Football Roster:
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- Charles Tindol
- Wayne Rowe
- Bobby Campbell
- Brandon Ganske
- Jon Cady
- Larry Mayberry, Sr.
- Isaac Garcia
- Gary Escamilla
- Kyle Tindol
- Clay Riddle
- Bailey Eubank
- Jaclynn Lewis
- Hannah Washington
Special thanks to all of you who helped make this season so memorable for our team!