By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports Sports
The memorable season for the Italy Gladiators came to an end Friday night in the 2A Division I area championship against Valley View.
The Gladiators pulled within an extra-point conversion early in the second quarter, only to watch the Eagles score 24-unanswered points before the half for a 31-6 lead. Italy did manage to outscore Valley View in the second half (14-10) but couldn’t overcome the deficit, falling 41-20.
Jaydon Saxon completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kort Holley in the third quarter to cut the Valley View lead to 31-12.
The sophomore quarterback then found Cahl Horn for a 26-yard touchdown pass with one minute and change to play in the fourth quarter. Chase Hyles added the two-point conversion with a rushing score to reach the 41-20 final score.
The area championship loss was the final high school football game for five Italy seniors. Those student-athletes include Cahl Horn, Michael Gonzalez, Noah Steinmetz, Colby Hampton and Colton May.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
The Gladiators began year two under head coach Craig Horn with a pair of losses against 3A state-ranked Palmer (22-0) and Mildred (35-33). They then reeled off four consecutive wins to put the program on the playoff radar for the first time in several seasons.
Following a 62-41 loss to Bruceville-Eddy, which was the lone District 8-2A loss suffered by the Gladiators, Italy defeated Axtell (41-0), Itasca (41-8) and Riesel (58-32) to enter the postseason as the district runner-up.
Italy then defeated Valley Mills, 47-23, this past week to win a 2A DI Region II bi-district championship.
Valley View, which improved to 10-2 on the season, moves on to face (9-3) Crawford at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 in the 2A DI Region II semifinals. The Bulldogs defeated Honey Grove 35-18 on Friday to win its own 2A DI area championship.