By all accounts, last year’s 28-17 win over Italy was Palmer’s first over the fellow Ellis County school — ever.
The teams headed into this season with different expectations.
While the Gladiators were still rebuilding after an 0-10 season last year, Palmer was thinking about a deep playoff run after missing the playoffs and being 8-2 last year by just nine points.
The different expectations doesn’t mean anything come Friday.
Italy warmed up for Palmer by snapping its 11-game losing streak last Friday. The Bulldogs spent the week conditioning with an early-season bye week.
“It was good,” Palmer head coach Brian Garrison said of the bye week. “We got some conditioning in, we rested and healed. We got a lot of things accomplished.”
The Bulldogs beat Hubbard 55-12 to open the season behind a 165-yard rushing performance by Jordan Greenlee.
Italy was close to being unbeaten as the Gladiators took a 16-8 loss to Hearne, a team that went three rounds deep in the playoffs last year, in the season opener before last week’s 21-18 win over Axtell.
Palmer is led by Greenlee and quarterback Jarrett Stone.
Stone, who can also pick up a lot of yards on the ground as evident by a 28-yard touchdown run against Hubbard, threw for 117 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening win.
Palmer’s defense may be its greatest asset as the Bulldogs’ speed held Hubbard to just six points until late in the fourth quarter.
That stingy defense will be tested against Italy this week.
The Gladiators have only scored 29 points in two games, but use several skill people throughout the game.
Last week, it was a freshman quarterback throwing to a freshman receiver for the game-winning touchdown.
Italy’s two main cogs on offense are running backs Detrick Green and Dontavious Clemons.
Last week, Green scored on touchdown runs of 29 and 6 yards to add to a 13-yard touchdown catch he had in the Gladiators’ first game.
“We have to slow down (Green) and they have two quarterbacks that are pretty good,” Garrison said. “The kids have to continue to believe in what we’re doing and they’re doing that. I think we’ll be alright.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium in Palmer.