IYAA opens 2014 football season with three away games against Rice

Image: The IYAA A-team Gladiators take the field against Rice to start their 2014 season.

The IYAA A-team Gladiators take the field against Rice to start their 2014 season. (Barry Byers)

Rice — IYAA Sports Football and Cheerleading opened their 2014 season in Rice with three exciting games between the young Gladiators and the young Bulldogs.

C-team Division:
The first game featured the C-team Gladiators (K-2nd) who starting the season off in grand fashion. Head coach Jasenio Anderson was all smiles as Gared Wood returned the opening kickoff all the way for a touchdown to propel Italy to a quick lead. Wood rushed in for the conversion behind lead blocker Curtis Benson to put Italy up 7-0.

Benson added another touchdown in the second-quarter to give the C-team Gladiators a 13-0 advantage going into halftime.

As the battle pressed on, little “Lucky” Johnson turned in a big-time performance from his safety position to keep the Bulldogs scoreless. Johnson made several touchdown saving tackles with the majority of those being made along the sidelines. Damien Wooldridge, Gavin Vasquez, Grant Morgan, Ramzi Holt, Kace McDaniel and Elijah Davis.

In the fourth-quarter, Johnson capped off his outstanding performance with a 45-yard touchdown run after using a stiff-arm to reach the endzone. It was Johnson’s first career touchdown as Italy’s C-team went on to win 20-0.

B-team Division:
The IYAA B-team Gladiators (3rd-4th) found it tough sledding in the first-half against the Bulldogs with Rice jumping out to a 19-0 advantage by halftime.

Italy head coach Mark Souder unleashed his mini Gladiators in the second-half behind the leadership efforts of John Hall, Jr. who turned in one of the best performances of his young career. Terrific runs by Hall and quarterback Jaylon Wallace pulled the B-Team Gladiators within a touchdown of the Bulldogs, 19-12, setting up a thrilling fourth-quarter.

The Bulldogs added one last touchdown but Italy defensive tackle Wyatt Ryan stormed up the middle to stop the conversion attempt. A determined run by Gabe Martinez helped setup another determined run from Wallace who scored a late touchdown for Italy to make the game 25-18. Wallace passed to Hall in the endzone for the 2-point try but double coverage on Hall foiled the attempt.

The comeback effort eventually fell short but not before Italy’s B-team secured a bit of momentum heading into this Saturday’s game against Palmer.

A-team Division:
Italy’s A-team started their season off in style when a perfectly placed kick by Creighton Hyles allowed teammate Daniel Celis to slide in for the recovery. Italy was unable to score on their opening drive but stayed at it.

The Bulldogs methodically built a 23-0 lead before halftime but not before Creighton Hyles completed a pass downfield to teammate Kort Holley who scurried for extra yards after the catch. Running back Bryce DeBorde made the most of his opportunities while Julius Williams, Ty Beets, Ty Cash, Reese Janek, Aedan Brewer, Case Hyles, Jayden Barr and Bryce Ballard were active on defense.

Despite a strong effort by the Italy A-team, the Bulldogs held on for a win. The A-Team, head coached by Charles Hyles, will try again this coming Saturday when Italy takes on the visiting Palmer Bulldogs.

Schedule for Saturday, September 23, between Italy and Palmer:

  • C-division — 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • B-division — 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • A-division — 11:00 a.m. to Noon

IYAA Sports, “The winning tradition starts here.”

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