By Bill Spinks

The Italy Gladiators will open the 2020 football season with a Thursday night road game at Dallas A+ Academy and will also travel to Mart for a crucial non-district measuring-stick contest, the team recently announced.

The Gladiators find themselves in a far-flung football district in the new University Interscholastic League alignment, with East Texas voyages to Kerens and Cayuga and a deep Central Texas trip to Marlin. The 2021 schedule is more favorable as they will host those three teams while traveling to Axtell and Dawson.

After visiting A+ Academy, the Glads will enjoy a three-game non-district home stand against Chilton, Rice and Corsicana Mildred, all 3A schools. They will then take on Mart on the road on Sept. 25 before taking a district-wide open date.

Italy is 1-9 all-time against Mart, with the lone victory occurring in district play in 1997. The last meeting in 2017 was a 70-0 Mart rout.

The Glads, who finished as 2019 District 8-2A (I) runners-up and went two rounds deep in last year’s postseason, bounced back from an 0-2 start and a district loss to Bruceville-Eddy to grab the No. 2 seed out of the district.

Italy ended up outlasting Bruceville-Eddy in the playoffs, beating Valley Mills in the bi-district round, 47-23, before falling to eventual 2A Division I state runner-up Valley View in the area round.

All games will kick off at 7:30 p.m. except for the Thursday night game at Dallas A+, which will begin at 7 p.m.