Sunday, April 1, 2018

March Ends With a Good Battle in the Milan DI American Football Derby

Saturday, 31 March, 2018

On day number . . .

. . . of my European Adventure,
I attended an American football game

Leisurely Day

I stopped in at the train station, not to ride a train but to have a cappuccino with the family that runs the Sicilian café across the street before hitting the Esselunga Supermarket for needed supplies.

GREAT people!

The rest of the day was dedicated to laundry, cleaning the Villa Skorpion and watching more video of our next opponent, the Sant'Agata Knights.

Finally, in the late afternoon I drove for about 40 minutes towards Milan to attend . . .

. . . THE DERBY!

Milan's two powerhouse DI teams were meeting for their only regular season confrontation.

In 2016, the Rhinos were the Italian DI Super Bowl Champions having edged the Seamen 35-34 in the semi-finals.

These two clubs met again in the 2017 playoffs, this time for the DI championship, with the Seamen winning 37-29, avenging a regular season 26-10 loss to the Rhinos.

 The Seamen were 1-0 in IFL play
entering tonight's game

They had defeated the Bolzano Giants (2-2) 21-0 a few weeks ago.

The Seamen are also playing in the ten team European Football League tournament this Spring. They opened EFL playing last Saturday night in Spain beating the defending Spanish DI Champion Badalona Dracs 23-10.

Their next EFL game will be at home against a traditional French powerhouse team, the Thonen Black Panthers on May 12th.
 The Rhinos were 0-2

After going undefeated the past two regular seasons, the Rhinos have fallen upon some hard times.

Their first two IFL games this season have both been losses to the Florence Guelfi (4-0) 6-2 and to the Ancona Dolphins (2-1) 28-7. 

 Home of the Rhinos

How we ever travelled anywhere before the invention of GPS is still a mystery to me.

The drive to the Rhinos home field took me through some interesting and scenic countryside and villages.


I looked but did not buy anything.

For once.

Pre-game warm-ups were
just finishing when I arrived

The Rhinos decked out their crib

Opening Kickoff

The Rhinos came to play and caught the Seamen napping a bit as they jumped out to a surprising 13-0 First Quarter lead.

The Seamen would roar back in the
second stanza to lead 20-13 at the Half

 Though trailing, the Rhinos were
playing with great enthusiasm

 Nice sports complex but . . .

With the skies threatening, why were the unique two sided stands on the auxiliary fields covered while our main field stands remained al fresco to the impending inclement weather?

Oh well . . .

Second Half action

The Seamen went back to work and at the end of three periods led comfortably 32-13.

And then they relaxed . . .

The Fourth Quarter saw a valiant
comeback attempt by the Rhinos

Midway through the final quarter, the Rhinos had made things interesting by cutting the Seamen's lead to just 32-25.

All Rhino hope faded as the Seamen went on a punishing, ground oriented, seven minute non-scoring drive. They turned the ball over on downs at about the Rhinos' ten yard line.

A subsequent Seamen interception of an errant Rhino pass ended the contest.

A nerve wracking game for the
Seamen fans and coaches to be sure

 I'll bet the Final Score made them happy

It was after the game when I got to have some fun seeing some old friends on the field.

Giulio Romano

Giulio is the starting Left Guard for the Rhinos and even played a little at Nose Guard on defense tonight.

He was our starting Left Guard as well when I coached the 2008 and 2009 Catania Elephants based in Sicily.

Giulio is just full of life and an unforgettable character too.

Most importantly tonight, he has become a tremendous blocker.


Claudio Nicola

Claudio is an exceptional Defensive Lineman for the Rhinos.

Mild mannered and polite off the field, something dark happens to him when he puts on the pads.

Claudio is a high energy player that I enjoy watching compete.

I first met him last August when I coached the Europe Warriors Senior team in our contest in Mexico City against the University of Mexico Pumas.

When all of us who ate the lasagna at the Radisson Hotel got a bit of food poisoning one night, he didn't.

When queried why he had not tried the Italian dish that night, he was the one who responded "If I ever ate lasagna in Mexico, my Grandfather in Heaven would come down and slap me in the face!"

Words to live by . . .

Mike Wood

Mike is in his first season as the Head Coach of the Milan Seamen after several European campaigns in Germany, France and Italy as well as coaching some college football in the USA.

Mike has been our Defensive Coordinator with the Europe Warriors for both the Senior team game last August in Mexico City and the U19 game in December in Texcoco, Mexico against the Mexican U19 All-Star team.

A good word to describe Europe's #1 Ohio State fan and alumnus would normally be . . . INTENSE!

But after tonight's see-saw battle he appeared overall to be quite calm and in control of his emotions.

It was this quiet, confident side of Mike that I was not used to but liked greatly.

Nevertheless Mike, think TFD!

Skorpions Game Week is finally here!

After two consecutive BYE weekends, we'll be back at it at home next Saturday for the first of four games in the month of April.

Somehow, someway we have to . . .


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