Monday, June 27, 2011

Italian Football League Semi-Final Playoff Results

The drive for the 2011 Italian Football League Championship continued this weekend with the playing of the circuit's two semi-final playoff contests. The results were simple and straight forward, the two favorites won by comfortable margins.

In Saturday's game, the #1 seeded (9-0) Bologna Warriors outscored the #4 seeded (5-4) Reggio Emilia Hogs 46-27.

Today, our beloved Sicilians, the #3 seeded (6-3) Catania Elephants flew to Parma to play the #2 seeded (7-2) Panthers. The first half was a typical IFL shootout that saw the Elephants ekeing out a 32-21 intermission advantage. The Parma squad made the necessary half-time adjustments and outscored Catania 21-0 in the third quarter to cruise to the win by a final tally of 59-40. For highlights of this game, go to

Up next is the 2011 IFL Super Bowl game on Saturday, July 9th at Parma's Stadio XXV Aprile - Via del Popolo between the #1 seeded (10-0) Bologna Warriors and the #2 seeded (8-2) Parma Panthers. The kick-off is set for 8:30 p.m. These two teams met in Week 6 of the IFL season on April 30th with the Warriors prevailing at home 34-23.

As for the Elephants, another solid season is in the record books with lots of ups and downs. Our favorite squad continues play good football and challenge for the title each season. Now it's time for the Elephants to relax on the Ionian Sea with a granite and a brioche for a few weeks as they re-group and . . .


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Conejo Passing Tournament

Your Rio Mesa Spartans spent the last two days competing in the 20 team Conejo Passing Tournament. The tournament is played on the three Field Turf gridirons at Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks and Westlake High Schools.

We played three games on Friday evening at Westlake H.S. vs. Westlake, Santa Maria and Oaks Christian.

Today we were back at it bright and early at Newbury Park H.S. vs. Ventura, Nordhoff and Palmdale.

The six games saw the Spartans play well in spots and not so well at times. All in all though, we continue to make progress each day.


Tanner Wrout Holding

Juwan Beard in Coverage

Darion Zimmerman: "HELP ME!!!"

Christian McNair airing it out

You have officially been Re-Wrouted

Keith Kemper, a.k.a, THE CLUB


Jordan Nunnery, Two Catches in One Play

Joe Alamillo, HURRY!!!

Gabe Doungtran, Cover 1

Ben Quantock, Breaking a Saints' Ankle?

James Turner, Ball Room Dancing Lesson

Matt Espinosa in Coverage . . .

. . . Double Coverage


Oaks Christian LB, landslide winner,
"Tournament's Best Dressed Player"

LB Joe Alamillo still working on his game


Mitch Haerterich proving a
good stance leads to . . .

. . . a TOUCHDOWN!!!

Good stance by James Turner

Hey, isn't that Newbury Park's newest teacher/coach, Mike Contreras, refereeing in the background?

Nice Coverage James!

Three REALLY old coaches!!!

Ventura H.S.'s Phil McCune and Brad Steward are two good reasons to still love high school football in Ventura County.

GREAT coverage by
Jordan Nunnery and Jaylen Stewart


Football Ballet

Interception by Tanner Wrout

Back in the Flat, Jordan Nunnery

This Ref is KILLING us!!!

Nice Catch by a Ranger

But not a Tank Ranger

A few of the Rio Mesa Parents


Joe Alamillo, INTENSITY!!!

Wrout Runs Amok

TD Ben Quantock



TD Jordan Nunnery

Two long days in the Sun were over. Next up are three more 7-on-7 games at Rio Mesa next Thursday vs. Santa Paula, Pacifica and Agoura High Schools.

Friday, June 24, 2011


NOIR, noun, \'nwär\
Definition of NOIR : 1. crime fiction featuring hard-boiled, cynical characters and bleak, sleazy settings

Followers of this blog know that I have become a big fan of Scandanavian noir literature and films.

It started innocently enough when Mike and Susan D'Antuono suggested that I read Swedish author Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo just before I left for Sweden last year.

Thoroughly absorbed, I excitedly raced through Larsson's so-called Millennium Trilogy in my first few days in Skåne. From their, Hässleholm Hurricane impressario Uffe Palmbrink got me hooked on Swedish author Henning Mankell's 11 book Kurt Wallander series that I finally finished last week.

Next, Camino de Santiago fellow pilgrim Trine Beck sent me a Danish DVD titled The Per Fly Trilogy. Talk about noir! By the way, on Friday, June 24th, Midsommar Day, it will be Happy Birthday time for Trine!!!

In the June, 2011 edition of the University of Washington's alumni magazine, Columns, there is even a mention of the Swedish murder mystery genre. UW associate professor of Scandanavian Studies, Andrew Nestingen, has written not one but two books on the subject. His first book in 2008 was titled Crime and Fantasy in Scandinavia: Fiction, Film and Social Change. This year he has co-edited a collection of essays on the subject, Scandinavian Crime Fiction. I'll need to take a look at both of these works sometime soon.

While unsuccessfully trying to find a copy of Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø's book The Snowman at Barnes and Noble, I did come across the following tome.

This is one of an interesting series of books published as the Akashic Noir Series. Each book is a compilation of noir short stories set in a particular major city. There are over 40 cities highlighted to date in the series.

Copenhagen Noir included work from 16 different noir writers from both sides of the Øresund. Most were very good yarns, a couple, not so much. As always, it was great to read stories set in many of the Danish and Swedish neighborhoods that we got to know so well last Spring and Summer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

IFL Game Time

The Italian Football League's Serie A playoffs start this weekend with a pair of semi-finals games. Our favorite team, the 6-3, #3 seeded Catania Elephants, are in the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons, an awesome accomplishment in itself in the topsy-turvy IFL.

The New 2011 Catania Logo

Only four days left until . . .

2011 IFL Semi-Final Playoff Games
Saturday, June 25th
#4 Reggio Emilia (5-4) at #1 Bologna Warriors (9-0)

Sunday, June 26th
#3 Catania (6-3) at #2 Parma (7-2)

2011 IFL Championship Game
Saturday, July 9th
The two winners of this weekend's Semi-Final games will play in the IFL Super Bowl at Parma's Stadio XXV Aprile - Via del Popolo

Good Luck Elephants!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lake Arrowhead and Beyond

The Newbury Park High School Panthers just hired a new teacher/J.V. football team Defensive Coordinator, our own Michael Contreras!

After spending an enjoyable first year as a teacher/coach at Hueneme H.S., Mike was one of over 30 first year teachers given a pink slip by the Oxnard Union High School District due to budget cuts. He heard about the opening at nearby Newbury Park, had a solid interview and was hired two days later. This should be a great situation for Mike in a Blue Ribbon School with both a great athletic tradition and a great staff.

Good luck and congratulations Michael!!!

Lake Arrowhead Weekend

For about the last six months our niece, Lyndsey McKenzie, has been planning this reunion weekend of all of the extended family of Bill and Florene Gardner. With Bill's passing last December and Florene's Memorial Service last Thursday in Camarillo, it was a welcome relief after the stress the last few months, especially for Laurie who has now earned the title of "Matriarch of the Gardner Clan."

The site for the reunion would be the alpine mountain retreat of David and Gayle Hicks. Gayle is Laurie's sister and they would prove to be great hosts, no surprise here.


Lake Arrowhead is located in the San Bernardino Mountains about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Casa Contreras. When we arrived at the Hicks's Cabin, we were greeted by a deck full of revelers including our son Andrew hoisting the beer salute.

To the left of Andrew is his bride Jenn and our first grandchild, Tank Ranger, a.k.a. "Kevin Gardner" Contreras.

O.K., Tank isn't due to pop out until August but I think that he had a good time too in the mountains.

Four Surviving Pines

Apparently, a few years ago, a bark beetle attacked the pine trees in the Lake Arrowhead area, killing off many of them. As it is with nature, oak trees are now taking up the ecological void for the dead pines.

The Lake

The Hicks's Cabin is located a short distance from the lakeshore, so we decided to take a walk along the shoreline path.

A Manzanita


The Kitchen and the Dining Table

As one would expect, much of this enjoyable retreat was spent in this area of the cabin.


A really good game that we had never played before.


Saturday on the Lake

A simply gorgeous day, it was time to cruise the lake and see the sights.

Our Tour Guide, Dr. David Hicks

Truly an amazing and gentle man, David can also skipper a boat like nobody's business.


Sarah Gardner and Lyndsey McKenzie enjoying a bit of speed on the water.

O.K., Lyndsey maybe not so much!

The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson's "Cabin"

One singer's cabin is another retired teacher's castle.

"Ship Ahoy!!!"

Besides wind power, this tar also used foot pedals to propel his craft through the water.

A Modest 13 Car Garage, Lakefront Cabin


Twin Peaks

On Sunday, Laurie and I drove into Lake Arrowhead's Village to do a little shopping.


Who doesn't love a kid on a Merry-Go-Round?

Lake Arrowhead Fauna . . .

. . . and Flora

Modern Age Technology

We all brought some equipment to keep us connected to the social network during our retreat although Jenn, in the middle, seems to be practicing some pre-natal breathing techniques.


The 111th U.S. Open was hosted by at Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C. over the weekend. It was won yesterday by a 22 year old Northern Irishman named Rory McIlroy in spectacular fashion as he shot a 16 under par, 72 hole total of 268 to take home his first Majors title.

It reminded me the time just ten years ago in Summer of 2001 that I joined our friend Mike D'antuono and our son Andrew to play this hallowed course.

As one would expect, I brought the course to its knees that day, shooting a remarkably consistent +26/+26 for an 18 hole total of 124.

I know exactly how Rory McIlroy felt yesterday as he entered that storied clubhouse after a fantastic day of golf.

Another Great Wallander Book

I finished it at the lake, excellent! It was on the New York Times Bestseller List for a reason.

The author, Henning Mankell, says that this is the last of the Kurt Wallander books he will write. I've had the pleasure over the last year to read all 11 of these fantastic mystery novels about Ystad, Sweden's favorite police inspector.

Good-bye old friend.


2011 Division I Södra Standings
The top two teams at the end of the regular season will play in the 2011 SAFF Division I Playoffs along with the top two teams from each of the other three Division I Conferences.

Kristianstad Predators (7-1)
Ystad Rockets (6-2)

Limhamn Griffins (3-2)
Lugi Vikings (3-3)
Hässleholm Hurricanes (0-5)
Ekeby Greys (0-6)

Week 9 Results
Kristianstad 43 - Ekeby 6
Ystad 22 - Lugi 14
BYES: Hässleholm and Limhamn

Week 10 Games
Saturday, July 2nd
Hässleholm (0-5) at Ekeby (0-6)
Limhamn (3-2) at Lugi (3-3)
BYES: Kristianstad (7-1) and Ystad (6-2)

SAAF Division I Södra Notes: Ryan Bolland's 7-1 Kristianstad Predators just keep marching steadily towards their initial goal, the Division I Södra's 2011 championship, after a solid 43-6 victory over the cellar dwelling 0-6 Ekeby Greys. One of Ryan's hardest chores is now squarely in front of him, the dreaded SAFF imposed Summer Break. The Predators only have two games left on their regular season schedule. Their next contest is at home against the 3-3 Lugi Vikings on August 13th, a full EIGHT WEEKS between games. Traditionally teams in Sweden face dwindling attendance at post break practices and many players just flat out never return to their teams in August.

Next Friday, Sweden celebrates one of its biggest holidays, Midsommar. As a result there will be no games played over the June 25-26 weekend.

Up next for our beloved 0-5 Hässleholm Hurricanes is a road game with the 0-6 Ekeby Greys in two weeks. An instant classic in the making don't you think?

Hässleholm Hurricanes U15-13 Team

The big American football news out of Skåne was the first ever contest, a scrimmage, for the Hurricanes first year youth squad. The mini-'Canes scrimmaged their Kristianstad Predators counterparts. The Predators are, in my opinion, the model for how to build an American football program from the ground up in Europe.

As expected, the Predators won the scrimmage 6 TDs to 2 TDs but it was a start, a big first step in creating a program not just a team in Hässleholm.