Italy’s 7th grade finishes in second place with a 5-3 season record

Image: Halfback Justin Wood — Sketch of halfback Justin Wood for the 7th grade football squad.
    Justin was also an assistant coach for the IYAA C-Team this season.

Halfback Justin Wood — Sketch of halfback Justin Wood for the 7th grade football squad.
Justin was also an assistant coach for the IYAA C-Team this season. (Barry Byers)

Offensively, Italy looked out of sorts as they could only muster few positive plays against a stubborn Itasca defense. Halfback Justin Wood was slowed by an injury that had occurred during practice earlier in the week. Penalties and offensive miscues also made it difficult for Italy’s offense to gain any momentum.

Defensively, Cody Medrano led the way as the Gladiators held the Wampus Cats to zero points until a busted play turned into a touchdown for Itasca.

Italy’s Kevin Roldan’s onside kick to start the game was recovered by Italy’s Trey Robertson at the 50-yard line. Itasca’s defense managed to hold Italy to 0-yards and took the ball over on downs. Then Italy returned the favor by shutting down Itasca. Defensive end Cody Medrano tackled an Itasca runner for a 4-yard loss and then penetrated again for a 5-yard loss on the next play. Itasca tried to pass for the needed yardage but the attempt was deflected by Eric Carson and Itasca punted.

From their own 37-yard line, Italy’s Justin Wood ran for 5-yards and tailback Trey Robertson carried for 4 more yards. Justin Wood then picked up the first down after a 6-yard run. Quarterback Eric Carson picked up eight yards on the next play as the first quarter ended. The Italy drive was squandered after a fumble gave the ball back to Itasca.

Cody Medrano kept the pressure on the Itasca backfield with a tackle for a 3-yard loss. First year player Robert “Big Deal” Dellinger followed that play with a tackle for a 1-yard loss. Itasca then completed a 25-yard pass for the first down. After Eric Carson knocked down an Itasca passing try for 35-yards, Itasca passed again on the next play to get the first down.

With time running out in the first half and Itasca threatening to score, the Italy defense made two tackles in the Itasca backfield. Eric Carson stuffed the Itasca quarterback at the line of scrimmage on the next play forcing a fourth down and 10-yards to go for Itasca. The Wampus Cats decided to go for it and heave a pass into the Gladiator endzone. Cody Medrano went for the sack and brutally hit the Itasca quarterback as he released the ball that was intercepted by Deiondre Cochran.

Italy would get the ball moved out to the 20-yard line due to the touchback but the first half came to an end. Neither team had yet to score, but Italy had the momentum going into the break.

Itasca’s onside kick to start the third quarter was recovered by Baily “Thud” Walton. On Italy’s first possession of the second half, Eric Carson’s 35-yard pass attempt to Justin Wood was intercepted by Itasca. The relentless Cody Medrano tackled Itasca’s runner for a loss of 2. Justin Wood then made a stop for a 3-yard loss. Itasca managed to pass for a first down on the next play and began their push for a score. Itasca’s running back was brought down by safety Trey Robertson after an 8-yard gain. A quarterback keeper picked up the first down on the next play. Then Cody Medrano makes another stop for Italy. Kevin Rodan makes a tackle after the Itasca runner picks his way for 13-yards. With 1:00 left in the third, a loose ball was scooped by Itasca and ran in for the first score of the game. The pass to get the extra point was knocked by Deiondre Cochran and Itasca’s lead was 6-0.

Itasca’s ensuing onside kick was recovered by Eric Carson. Justin Wood carried for 5 and then for 6-yards as the third quarter ended.

Starting the final quarter, Italy had to convert on a fourth down and 1-yard to go. Eric Carson was able to move the sticks with a quarter back keeper. Justin Wood fought, bit and kicked his way through the heart of the Itasca defense before busting out down the sideline for a 42-yard gain into the Wampus Cat Red Zone. Unfortunately a holding call cancelled out the big play. Itasca’s defense put the claws into Italy’s offense after that and Italy turned the ball over on downs. The game was back-and-forth the rest of the way as Itasca held on to 6-0 end of the season win over the Italy 7th grade squad.