Chilton — The Chilton Pirates were expected to win against Italy last Friday, but the Gladiators got on the bus and journeyed into Chilton for the challenge anyway. With Chilton leading by a wide margin at halftime, the Gladiators charged onto the field to finish the second-half as strong as they could, anyway. And that is what I enjoy about the Gladiators this season.
They are as resilient a group of Gladiators of any I’ve seen in recent years. Youthful but determined, this team continues to give it their all no matter the circumstances. Football, as in many competitive sports, provides youngsters an opportunity to learn about team work, how to overcome trials and tribulations together and to persevere thru good times and bad.
When the dust settles, the final score is not the end result. Instead, the lessons learned will be what truly matters. I have enjoyed watching the growth of our younger players as much as I have enjoyed watching the veterans lead by example. I feel winning the contest is important and that it should always be our goal. However, winners are not defined by the scoreboard.
Our Gladiators are winners because they suit up, buckle up and step out onto the field every Friday night. They are winners because they are tough enough and brave enough to face their fears and give it their best effort. They are winners because they never give up, quit or throw in the towel, despite the odds.
As a youth coach, these are the lessons our current Gladiators are passing down to all the younger players, and I thank you guys for that. Your teaching them to give your all no matter what, no matter the score and to always stick together. We may fall but we can only rise together.
Back to the game…Chilton led 51-0 in the third-quarter. Our Gladiators, however, continued to fight. Italy’s stick-to-it-ness paid off when senior linebacker Coby Jeffords was credited with a 2-point safety in the Pirate endzone. With 7:46 remaining, Italy kept at it and Jeffords would later add a touchdown. The final score was 51-8 in favor of Chilton.
Despite the loss, there were several highlights for Italy. A fumble which was recovered by senior tackle John Escamilla. Senior safety, Jack Hernandez intercepted a pass, as well as, caught a pass on offense. Hernandez also made a tremendous tackle in the open field when he and a Pirate runner went head-to-head.
Fabian Cortez intercepted a pass on a conversion attempt by the Pirates and had a couple of touchdown saving tackles on defense. Senior safety Ryan Connor was active on defense and had a couple of carries for positive yards on offense. Senior receiver Cody Boyd caught a pass from quarterback Joe Celis, broke a tackle and then covered some ground along Chilton’s sideline.
Senior center Kyle Fortenberry continues to be reliable to start Italy’s offensive attack and put in a full nights work under the lights on defense. Kudos to the rest of Italy’s offensive line with John Byers, Ty Fernandez, Austin Pittmon and Clay Riddle for executing well. Italy’s initial blocks on the front line seemed pretty good but Chilton’s overall team speed made up for any holes created in their defense.
Clayton Miller caught a pass and had a couple of solid returns on kickoffs. Kyle Tindol was effective returning kicks as well and has been a solid down field blocker all season for the Gladiators. Senior Levi McBride punted, tackled and returned a kick while doing whatever he could for the Gladiator cause.
Freshman running back Kendrick Norwood is always fun to watch as he picks his way thru defenses and defensive tackle Aaron Pittmon was involved on several defensive plays.
The Gladiators will play their next district game at home tonight against Hubbard starting at 7:30 p.m. It’s Italy’s Pink-Out game so you know what color to wear!
- Overall MVP — Cody Boyd
- Offensive MVP — Coby Jeffords
- Defensive MVP — Fabian Cortez
- Offensive Line MVP — Ty Fernandez
- Defensive Line MVP — Cody Boyd
- Hitman — John Byers
- Special Teams MVP — Kyle Tindol