Monday, December 28, 2009

Weekend Updates

The post-Christmas weekend was a full one that featured a stunning feat, a stunning upset and a great movie experience.


On Saturday morning we had planned on going out to breakfast with Andy, Jenn, Mike and Vanessa before Andy and Jenn drove home to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Andy was not feeling too well so we opted for the traditional Contreras Pancake Toss and Feast.

It was at this point that Mike decided to attempt what was always believed to be the impossible. . . the feared Double Pancake Flip!

To this point, the Double Pancake Flip was only a dream that even Evel Knieval never attempted. Mike, for some strange reason, felt sure he could pull off this incredibly dangerous stunt. It would require precise, pinpoint accuracy and timing on my part as well as his.

With Laurie, Vanessa, Jenn and Andy esconced at a safe distance, we went for it!

This historic photo will forever simply be known as
"The Flip"



No, not the New Orleans Saints (13-2) losing their second game in a row to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers (3-12) 20-17 in overtime. Although that was definitely not a good sign as the playoffs neared.

No, I'm talking about a monumental game that was played in Somis, California while the Saints were going down in flames.

I challenged Mike to a game of football at his home at halftime of the Saints game.

First, the game's location had to be determined as two Christmas presents stated their case for hosting the titanic struggle!

Choice #1
Vibrating Football

This venue was a Christmas present to Mike from his Brother-in-Law Carlos. Luxury Suites, Fine Dining, Field Turf, it has all the bells and whistles except one, the human element.

Coaches have no control over the players, it is like having Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco AND Terrell Owens all on your team at he same time, EVERYONE just does their own thing EVERY PLAY!!!

As a coach I just could not accept Vibrating Football, a.k.a., Electric Football's lucrative offer to host the game.

Choice #2
Big Game Football

Now this is more my style and a great Christmas gift from Laurie. Check out the uniforms and the kid's hair who is playing this game, AWESOME!!! Definitely a natural grass field with H-shaped goal posts!

Total control of each play, now we're talking! Big Game Football it is.

The game? In a game of international implications. I was coaching the Hässleholm Hurricanes of the Swedish American Football Federation while Mike opted for the Catania Elephants of the Italian Football League since he was wearing a Fundo Bianco sponsored Elephants T-shirt.

Of course we had a mandatory Passport check before the game started and that's when we found out that Catania had indeed suited up three import players, QB Jason Johnson, WR Matt Epperson and DB/RB Larry Atkinson. The Elephants would be the explosive, high wire act that we thought they would be!

The Hurricanes of course had no imports which is the rule at our level in the SAAF. We would have to use our Double-Wing offense to eat up the clock and keep the Elephants' offense on the bench watching the game in order to win.


The game was being played in Sweden and we were sure that the cold weather would affect the boys from sunny Sicily as the game wore on.

Amazingly, Catania took the opening kickoff and relied mostly on their running game to control the clock with a 16 play drive! Even though Catania ran the ball 12 times (Enrico Lombardo 30 yards) on this drive, the key plays were Jason Johnson passes to Gregorio Barbagallo (15 yds.), Lucki Camarda (15 yds.) and Matt Epperson (20 yds.). Fortunately, the Hurricanes dodged a bullet when the Elephants' drive stalled and they missed a chip shot Field Goal.

The first quarter ended with the game still tied, 0-0.

The Hurricanes first drive was a 6 play affair that saw them turned back when they took a page out of the Bill Belichick playbook and went for it on 4th and 1. The result? A 2 yards loss!

Catania was off on another drive that resulted in an Andrea Mannino 24 yard Field Goal, Catania 3 - Hässleholm 0.

Hässleholm shocked the house with a 20 yard pass play from QB Andreas Nilsson to WR Alexander Lilja on their next possesion, but the drive ended with a punt.

Johnson quickly hit RB Roberto "Sweetness" Paderni with a 35 yard strike to get Catania deep into Hurricane territory. Fortunately for the Hurricane's, DL Jonas Grip recorded his second sack on the last play of the half to keep the Hurricanes close.

At the half, Catania 3 - Hässleholm 0.

The Hurricanes started the third period with a 7 play drive but had to punt the ball away.

On Catania's first play, a bone jarring hit by LB Rasmus Grip forced a fumble that DB Kalle Nordström recovered.

Eight plays later, the Hurricanes returned the favor after Catania LB Gianmarco Pecoraro forced a fumble that fellow LB Salvo Sicali recovered.

Catania went for the jugular with some trickeration on first down as Matt Epperson connected with Claudio Mangano on a reverse pass good for 57 yards and a TD! The PAT was no good, Catania extended their lead to 9-0.

Hurricane RB Pär Jönsson broke a 40 yard run to end the third quarter.

After three quarters, Catania was cruising 9-0, but Hässleholm was still hanging around!

On the first play of the 4th quarter, RB Pär Danielson took the double handoff on the Criss-Cross Reverse and scampered 40 yards for a Hurricane TD! The PAT was good as Hässleholm cut Catania's lead to 9-7.

The Elephants then responded with a magnificent 53 yard TD pass from Johnson to TE Peppe Strano to end a 5 play drive. The PAT was good as Catania extended their lead to 16-7.

On the ensuing Catania kickoff, the god Odin intervened. Mannino's kick hit Hässleholm's Frank Hilgers in the Hurricanes' front line and the ball ricocheted to his teammate Olof Sävard. Olof picked up the ball as the Catania kickoff squad over ran the ball. Sävard rumbled 50 yards to paydirt for the craziest kickoff return for a TD I've ever seen. You can't make this stuff up!

The PAT was good, Catania 16 - Hässleholm 13 but time was running out.

Suffering from the combined effects of cold weather, biting wind and too much smoking, the Elephants were "3 and Out" on their next possesion and punted on 4th and 3.

On 2nd and 12, the Hurricanes went back to the Criss-Cross Reverse and this time it was RB Linus Jonsson covering the final 33 yards for the go ahead TD. The PAT was good and the Hurricanes took their first lead of the day 20-16 with less than a minute left in the game!

On the last play of the game, Catania's Johnson hit Strano with a 7 yard Hook and Lateral pass that was about to be lateraled to Epperson with nothing but beautiful green grass between Epperson and a miracle, Boise State-like TD. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, veteran LB Uffe Palmbrink hit Strano just as he was about to lateral to the wide open Epperson forcing a bad pitch that hit the ground where hustling DB Marcus Lundquist fell on the ball thus securing one of the greatest upsets in European American football history!

Final Score: Hässleholm 20 - Catania 16

Mike was depressed to lose his first game as a Head Coach and I had mixed emotions due to my feelings for the players on both squads. I'm sure that the travel and cold, blustery weather plus a bit of overconfidence all helped the Hurricanes but we'll take it!!!

I know that Jason would want to know his passing stats, so here they are:
11 for 13, 175 yards, 1 TD, 0 Interceptions,
2 QB Sacks for -14 yards


Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes

After the big game, we loaded up the Chrysler LHS as Mike and Vanessa joined us as we drove to Thousand Oaks to see this just released movie.

After getting over the shock of paying $11 per ticket, I think they were only $5 each the last time I went to the movies, we settled in to watch the 2 hour, 14 minute opus to our hero in crime detection and deductive reasoning.

It should be noted that I have always been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. When I first visited London I was sure to take the Tube to the. . .

Baker Street Station

The little "dots" that make up Sherlock's profile are mini-profiles of Sherlock as well.

A Statue of the Great Sleuth
above the Baker Street Station

Getting closer to his digs. . .

221b Baker Street on the left

Sherlock's living quarters

You can even unwind at his Pub!

I highly recommend the Sherlock Holmes Ale and their Shephards Pie!

As for the movie, Robert Downey Jr. portrays Mr. Holmes as a combination of Basil Rathbone and Jackie Chan as he and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) basically battle Mephisto to save the entire English speaking world.

Quite a departure from the traditional Holmes but we really enjoyed it and gave it four very enthusiastic thumbs up!!!

Now we prepare for New Year's Day. We are just having way too much fun this Holiday Season.



A few thoughts as I awake from my post-Christmas semi-comatose state:

1) You have a lot of time on your hands. I'm envious.

2) Only having Jason Johnson throw one touchdown pass in a European contest does show you have a future as a FICTION writer. His completion percentage was close to accurate. haha.

3) Where was DP Lassen for the post-game interviews? Perhaps he did not have a press pass?

4) Was Claudio's long hair properly depicted by his Electronic counterpart?



George said...

The snow and slippery field conditions were a DEFINITE factor in this stunning upset.

I failed to mention that on two occasions Claudio fell down making a cut after catching passes that should have been TDs. Both times the Hurricane defense stiffened and held the Elephants to Field Goal attempts!

Michael Contreras said...

Although Claudio did bring three pairs of is customary ( i.e. Milan) none of them were proper for the conditions that were faced.

DPLassen said...

J2 — The game was between Hässleholm and Catania. No local team, so no need to cover. (Of course, you could say the same thing about this year's Rose Bowl, but I'll still be there, since I don't have to worry about being hit by low-flying pancakes.)