Italy — The Italy Gladiators (2-4, 2-1) defended Willis Field and improve to 2-1 in district play after bullying the visiting Dawson Bulldogs 48-26 for a homecoming win.
Quarterback Joe Celis rushed for 249 yards on 15 carries and 3 touchdowns to help the Gladiators overtake Dawson after Italy relinquished an early lead. Tailback Coby Jeffords added another 126 yards on 14 carries while running in 4 touchdowns for the Gladiator cause. It was the second four touchdown game for Jeffords in district play.
Chace McGinnis was crowned the 2014 Italy High School Homecoming King during the downtown pep rally held earlier in the day and Kelsey Nelson was crowned the 2014 Italy High School Homecoming Queen during a halftime ceremony with her proud father Doug Nelson escorting his daughter. Congratulations Chace and Kelsey!!!
The Homecoming King Nominees were McGinnis, Jeffords, Kyle Fortenberry, John Byers, and Colin Newman. The Homecoming King Nominees were Nelson, Regan Cockerham, Bailey Eubank, Jaclynn Lewis and Madison Washington.
The Junior Princess was Julissa Hernandez, the Sophomore Princess was Elizabeth Garcia and the Freshman Princess was Annie Perry.
The Gladiator Regiment Marching Band and Flag Corp also performed at halftime with drum majors Alexis Sampley and Vanessa Cantu taking turns from the director’s platform.
With Italy’s passing game struggling this season, AD/Head Coach Charles Tindol kept the play calls centered around Celis and Jeffords and the focus on the running game. Italy’s slimmed down offensive line with Fortenberry, Ty Fernandez, Byers, Clay Riddle and Austin Pittmon paved the way for the backfield. Downfield blockers Ryan Connor, Cody Boyd, Clayton Miller, Fabian Cortez, Jack Hernandez and Kyle Tindol deserve much of the credit as well for their execution. Levi McBride returned from the injury list and had 2 carries for 14 yards in some light duty work.
Defensively, Connor led the Gladiator attack while recording 7 tackles, 3 assists, 1 pass knockdown and 1 sack from his safety position. Miller and Kendrick Norwood both had interceptions and John Byers recorded a sack and Austin Pittmon recorded a 1/2 sack. Cody Boyd had 3 QB pressures, Ty Fernandez had 2 QB pressures and John Escamilla had 1 QB pressure along with 3 tackles and 4 assists from his interior defensive tackle position.
Fabian Cortez had 7 tackles and 1 assist in the secondary and Hunter Merimon recorded 4 tackles, 2 assist and 1 tackle for loss at outside linebacker after coming off the injured list.
Next, the Gladiators will take on their fourth 2A-2 Region III District 10 opponent, the state ranked Chilton Pirates (4-2 overall record), on Friday, October 17, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Chilton. Italy defeated state ranked Cayuga last season so expect the Gladiators to try and sink the Pirates in this one.
Gladiator Offensive/Special Teams Stats:
|Kendrick Norwood(4)||11/55||1/15||1/20||1 (2-pts)|
|David De La Hoya(56)||0/1/0||1-of-2 (Kick)|
Gladiator Defensive Stats:
- Overall MVP — Joe Celis
- Offensive MVP — Coby Jeffords
- Defensive MVP — Ryan Connor
- Offensive Line MVP — Kyle Fortenberry
- Defensive Line MVP — John Escamilla
- Hitman — Kyle Fortenberry
- Special Teams MVP — Dylan McCasland