Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lazio Marines Season Finale Game


LAZIO MARINES
6 Wins - 2 Losses

at

2 Wins - 6 Losses

Sunday, May 31 at C.U.S.
at 2:00 p.m.

Our final game of the season was played on a great day to play American football!

Today's Head Referee Jeremy Glasser

Hailing from Colorado, we met Jeremy on the day of our Youth Football Camp at NAS Sigonella.  He is stationed there and asked about the possibility of continuing his refereeing career here in the IFL.  I put him in contact with Antonio Costarella, an ex-Elephant who is also an IFL official.  His offer to help was accepted and here he is sporting the White Hat in our last game.  He did a very good job officiating the game today.

Obvious pre-game jitters

The Elephants charge the field!

TRUTH IN BLOGGING STATEMENT:  Before I start telling you about our game, I must take a moment to let you in on a little of the behind the scenes issues with which Lazio had to deal.

First, at 6-2 they were locked into the #2 seed in the playoffs win or lose.  Second, they felt they needed to rest their outstanding American QB Nick Eyde and their excellent LB Kellen Pruitt.  This decision would definitely shape the course of the game.

Andrea Maninno kicking an extra point.

Defense ready to blitz!

FIRST QUARTER:
Catania erupts for a 67 yard TD pass from Arturo Sanchez to Claudio Mangano.  Andrea Maninno adds the extra point, the Elephants take a lightening quick 7-0 lead.

Lazio is forced to punt.

The Elephants score again, this time on a 3 yard TD pass from Sanchez to Mangano.  Maninno's PAT kick is true, Catania 14 - Lazio 0.

Lazio turns the ball over on downs as the First Quarter ends with the Elephants in charge 14-0.

Wide Receivers With Attitude

Gregorio Barbagallo and Claudio Mangano

Lock Down!

As usual, Larry Atkinson did a FABULOUS job against the Marines best receiver.

SECOND QUARTER:
Catania's drive is halted by a bad snap on third down, followed by a snap over the punter's head, followed by a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty when the punter spikes the ball in anger.

The Marines take advantage of all of the above mentioned Elephant follies and scores on a 3 yard pass.  The kick is good cutting the Catania lead to 14-7.

The Elephant offense responds, ignited by a bone crunching block by WR Claudio Mangano.  Taber Lemarr finishes the drive with a 22 yard TD pass from Arturo.  Maninno is money and Catania now leads 21-7.

CB Emanuele "The Norman" Gariffo intercepts a Marines pass and returns it 10 yards.

Catania misses a 30 yard Field Goal attempt.

Lazio runs the clock out to end the First Half.  Catania leads 21-7.

Taber LeMarr goes high in the air for the ball!

Larry Atkinson's 40 yard TD scamper

THIRD QUARTER:
Lazio takes the kickof and drives until Taber LeMarr intercepts a pass and returns it 15 yards.

Catania punts and Lazio has a huge return.

The Marines strike pay dirt with a 23 yard TD pass, the kick is good.  Catania's lead is now 21-14.

After a Lazio onside kick does not travel the neccesary 10 yards, Larry Atkinson takes the first snap of the drive 40 yards for a TD.  Maninno kicks another one through the uprights, Elephants go up 28-14.

Lazio punts.

Catania punts.  The Third Quarter ends with Catania ahead 28-14.

Denver and Paul pacing the 4th quarter sideline.

Mathieu Cassaghi with a big block on Larry Atkinson's interception.

FOURTH QUARTER:
Lazio hits a 3rd down heave for a 68 yard TD.  The kick is perfect, Catania's lead is now 28-21.

The Elephants punt.

Larry Atkinson intercepts a Marines pass and returns it 80 yards for an apparent TD but there is a flag on the field for clipping negating the TD but it is still our ball.

Catania's RB Enrico Lombardo has a huge run on first down to the 15 yard line.  We decide to take a knee.  At the end of the second down play I believed the ref said we still had 50 seconds left and two knees would not eat up enough time.  I called a bad time out at his point to get us to run a play in an attempt to get a first down only to find out that there was only 15, not 50, seconds left in the game.  Talk about a stupid call on my part!  Catania eventually turns the ball over on downs with 3 seconds left in the game.

On the last play of the game, the Marines hit their good receiver for a 15 yard gain but the Elephants swarm to the ball and the game is over.

FINAL SCORE
Catania 28 - Lazio 21!

Lucki Camarda and "Il Dottore" Salvo Sicali enjoyed the win

Davide gave me a hug after the game

Or maybe it was the Sicilian "Kiss of Death"

The Elephants salute the crowd

NG Corrado Di Martino

GREAT year Corrado!

Three American Coaches

Paul and Denver, THANKS for all you did for the Elephants this season!

Taber and Larry

Both had a lot of big plays the last month of the season.

Taber leaves Catania on Monday on his way back to Phoenix.

Larry leaves on Tuesday for Washington D.C.  where he will join the Maryland Maniacs of the Arena Football League II for the last half of their season.


The victory was a GREAT way to end the season, lots of exciting plays and a great renewal of spirit and enthusiam which made for a fantastic day.

"It's GREAT to be an Elephant!!!"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Last Practice of the 2009 Season


Saturday saw the Elephants gather for the last practice of the 2009 season.  A typical light pre-game walk-through practice saw 30 Elephants in attendance, our best by far this week.

Paul Petrich organizing the Scout Team Defense

Alessio D'Arpa, sans casco, leading through the hole

Andrea Specchiarello, blocking on the right, is the very soul of Sicilian fashion in his chic black T-shirt.

Outside Linebackers taking a few plays off

Gianmarco Pecoraro and Dr. Salvo Sicali


La Passeggiata

After practice we bought food home to eat and then Laurie and I participated in Italy's favorite early evening pastime, La Passeggiata.  This is the Italian phrase for a promenade, a chance to see and be seen.  We mostly wanted to get a little exercise, some fresh air and people watch.

So what did we see in Aci Trezza?

A bar selling cool drinks, many non-alcoholic 

Boats moored off shore signaling that summer is here.

Volcanic Rocks

A Lido

Another cool street bar

Two dry docked ships

One about ready to be relaunched, one with a ways to go.

A gathering of the locals, I wonder why?

Vote for Paolo Castorina for Sindaco

The gathering was a political rally for Paolo Castorina who is running for Mayor (Sindaco) of Aci Trezza in next week's elections.

I liked what he had to say and plan to cast at least three votes for him myself.

Last game of our 2009 season is tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. at CUS vs. the 6-2, playoff bound, second place Lazio Marines.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday


Friday was a great day to lounge around Malibu on the lower patio and read a good book, currently I'm enjoying The Codex by Douglas Preston.

Practice was attended by only 19 players who worked hard on individual techniques but gave us no chance for any team work.  This was another great disappointment with the 6-2, second place Lazio Marines coming into town on Sunday for our last game of the season. 

Valentina, who is a friend of many of our players, is having a costume party tonight in honor of her graduation from college and her birthday this week.  Denver got invited and was raring to go as. . . 

SUPER DENVER!!!
Truth, Justice and the Italian Way!

GREAT costume but I hope they don't get pulled over by the police in one of their weekend random traffic stops.

Heather Linderman Ad of the Day Contest


Both of today's ads are from the Catania area.

2 Jewels indeed!


I'm not sure how the downturn in the economy is affecting the Camarillo Premium Outlet Mall back home but I think that an ad like the next one could increase sales.

The Grand Opening was today and was jam packed!

Last W.C.E. Palermo Practice


Thursday was our final trip to Palermo to meet with the West Coast Elephants for practice in the Eurocalcio Complex.  As is our custom, we left Aci Castello early enough to do a little sight seeing on the left coast of Sicily.

We were inspired today by an article from the April 17, 2009 Los Angeles Times that Paul's sister, Dianne Flowers, sent him about the town of Salemi.

The town was founded in the 9th Century by Arabs and derives its name from the Arabic salaam meaning peace.  In 1968 a devastating earthquake hit Salemi destroying over 3,500 homes.  The town spent much of the next four decades in a slumber until a flamboyant new mayor was elected in 2008.

Salemi Mayor Vittorio Sgarbi 

Mayor Sgarbi is an art historian, political brawler, television madman and media hog, according to the article.  He is full of ideas to revitalize this town of 11,800 inhabitants which is why we decided to drive about an hour past Palermo to this hill top town, complete with castle.

Siesta Time

By the time we got there, it was siesta time and just about everything was closed except a few coffee bars like this one that served a great sandwich.

Paul checking out the Salemi map

He is trying to find the location of the City Hall.

All tourists really should know what a Mafioso looks like.

Apparently this area has a strong Mafia presence.  According to the Los Angeles Times article, Salemi was the scene of a clandestine summit meeting in 1987 during which an Italian prime minister exchanged the ritualistic "kiss of honor" with a murderous Mafia chief. 

Why are we in Salemi you ask?

The new mayor's plans includes selling earthquake ravaged, abandoned homes for ONE EURO, about $1.30!  Buyers must commit themselves to restoring the property.  Rock star Peter Gabriel has bought a home here and Paul is interested in coughing up the neccesary Euro.

These might require a little more work.

The old town church sports a new façade

Inside it is still old school.

Mary and the baby Jesus pushing the use of the Scapular

Mike Contreras never leaves home without it.  This is the Catholic Church's equivalent of a Monopoly "Get Out of Jail" card.  Tradition says that if you are wearing one at the time of your death, you go straight to heaven, no questions asked.

Liduvina, who is this saint?

I have no clues for you on this one found is Salemi's church.

This ornate altar piece was apparently made in 1612.

Salemi's agricultural countryside

Salemi from the base of the town

More on this Salemi shepard at the bottom of this post. 

Grazing in Salemi

Our timing was off since the City Hall would not open until 4:30 and we had to be at practice in Palermo at 6:00.  We moved on but I couldn't help thinking about all the possibilities of being a virtual Sicilian land baron with the 10 Euro note in my wallet. 

Segesta

On the way back to Palermo, we did have time for a quick visit to Segesta.  First a town inhabited by the Elymians, it would eventually be taken over by the Greeks and Romans.

Since I visited the well preserved Doric temple last year and we saw the temples at Agrigento last week, we decided to take the shuttle bus to the top of the mountain to see the Greek Theater.

The Doric Temple

In the Greek style, this temple was actually built by the Elymians according to our resident expert, Denver Wade.

The view from the 3rd Century BC
Greek Theater

As always the Romans would eventually adapt it to their needs, but it was the Greeks who always seemed to have the knack for stunning sight lines.

Top Row Center

Paul reminisces about the first time he saw a play here in 157 AD

Some top row seats still have backs

Views from one of Segesta's hill top buildings

An archaeologist logging in new data.  The work at Segesta continues.

Two Palermo calcio fans working out at the Eurocalcio Complex

Alessio and Andrea doing some footwork drills.

Fight for the ball!

Drive Block

DB work is often like watching a ballet.

GREAT job today Manolo and Roberto!

Alessio and Gino about to do battle.

Refrigerator Perry II?

Andrea will be our secret weapon at running back this week against the Lazio Marines.

The W.C.E. pose for one last photo

On the drive home we estimated that we had only two player absences in all of our trips to Palermo.

What if every practice in Catania had the 95% attendance that the W.C.E. practices have had?

Dinner in Enna at the
Ristorante "Centrale" di Gaetano Pirrera

I HATE DRIVING UP TO ENNA!  Mostly because Garmin gets me hopelessly lost each time.  Enna is a VERY high hill top town in the center of Sicily and is about half way between Palermo and Catania.  We decided to stop one last time here for a late dinner.  Thank goodness that the food was great, it made the driving frustration of the town a little more tolerable. 

video
Salemi shepard tending his flock

Laurie wants you to experience a little more of the Salemi sheep scene.  ENJOY!