Italy — After a hard fought 8-6 road loss to Kerens in week one, the Italy JV Gladiators suited up for their first home game of the 2014 season against the visiting Maypearl JV Panthers.
With Italy’s defense unable to contain the edge early, the Panthers jumped out to an early 24-0 lead by he end of the first-quarter. To make matters worse, Italy’s middle linebacker Barry Grant exited the game with a knee injury in the second-quarter which really left a void in the Gladiator attack.
Trying to make up for Grant’s departure were Dylan McCasland, Eli Garcia and Jaray Anderson who were involved in several defensive plays as the game progressed. Micah Escamilla was also a presence as was Garrett Janek who combined for a tackle along Italy’s sideline with Garcia. Noseguard Sam Corley helped bring down a Panther runner and Blake Brewer form tackled another to the ground. Hunter Ballard stayed in on defense despite an ankle injury while Austin Crawford was sidelined with an injury as well.
McCasland ran the show for Italy’s offense as quarterback in his second career start and was able to complete a couple of passes to Micah Escamilla late in the contest. With offensive linemen Chris Munoz, Hunter Morgan, Edgar Solis, Gabe Fernandez, Grant before his injury and Cade Roberts leading the way. McCasland primarily pitched the ball to Anderson who eventually found his way into the endzone after shedding tacklers to make the score 24-6 by halftime.
Brewer and Garcia also had several carries in the contest but it was Anderson’s kickoff return for a touchdown that proved to be the biggest highlight of the game for Italy with Anderson going the distance virtually untouched. Despite the effort, Maypearl still lead 32-12 with the clock running out on the Gladiators.
Italy’s fans witnessed another bright spot in the kicking game with Gary Escamilla following up Anderson’s scoring run with a well booted kickoff. Unfortunately, Maypearl made a big return on the play to set their final touchdown. Italy returned to offense but their drive stalled in the shadow of their own endzone. This time Gary Escamilla showed no fear as he punted a high end-over-end kick despite heavy pressure from a Maypearl punt blocker. In fact, the kick took a favorable roll and pinned the Panthers deep.
Italy’s defense kept the Panther offense from doing any more damage but as the final seconds ticked off the board, it was Maypearl’s JV standing victorious in the rivalry matchup with a final of 38-12.
Despite the loss, Italy’s JV Cheerleaders kept their team fired up throughout with Karley Nelson, Hannah Carr, Karson Holley, Lana Beets, Courtni Bland, Madi Chambers, Alex Jones, Jada Jackson, Taylor Boyd and Kimberly Hooker performing stunts and shaking their pom-poms! Also bringing the noise was Virginia Stephens who made her mascot debut as, “Gary the Gladiator!!” We’ll get ’em next time!!!
More images courtesy of Jeremiah Glover ArtGuy: