Monday, May 14, 2018

Game Day in Sardinia

Saturday, 12 May, 2018

Week #11 of the 2018 DII season could mean only one thing . . . ROAD TRIP!

We were scheduled to play the Crusaders for the second time this season but this time in Sardinia.

Nice Game Day Poster
produced by the Crusaders

As usual, we'll take a look at the two team's seasons to date.

Varese Skorpions
4 Wins - 2 Losses
Beat the Varese Gorillas (0-5) 21-12
Lost to the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (6-0) 0-16
Beat the Sant'Agata Knights (1-5) 25-18
Lost to the Sarzana Red Jackets (2-4) 16-44
Beat the Cagliari Crusaders (1-5) 34-14
Beat the Varese Gorillas (0-5) 28-7  

Cagliari Crusaders
1 Win - 5 Losses
Beat the Varese Gorillas (0-5) 16-0
Lost to the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (6-0) 6-31
Lost to the Modena Vipers (6-0) 16-49
Lost to the Verona Mastini (3-1) 0-42
Lost to the Varese Skorpions (4-2) 14-34
Lost to the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (6-0) 2-31 

Laurie and I left the Villa Skorpion early as we needed to leave our car in a long term parking lot at Milan's Malpensa Airport and were not 100% sure where it was or how long our drive plus the shuttle from the parking lot would take.

We were scheduled to meet the Skorpion entourage at 9:30 a.m. for the 11:35 a.m. flight to Cagliari.

We got to Malpensa way too early but . . . 

. . . they had café

Finally the Skorpions arrived

WR Martino Piazzi was all smiles

Milling about waiting for Jack to arrive

WR Giacomo "Jack" Micheli
was in the airport!

We all made it through Security
just in time to find out that our
flight was 20 minutes late

No, let's revise that to 45 minutes late.

We were still OK as we did not kickoff until 8:00 p.m.

RB Sergio "Rodrigo Blankenship"
Montalbetti has artistic talent

Once finally in the air, the EasyJet flight only took 90 minutes to get us to . . .

. . . Sardinia

It's an island you know

With Lenten Penitents

No, definitely not the KKK.

The airport was bathed in warm sunshine

We boarded our recliner (Pullman) bus for the ride to the team hotel in the heart of Cagliar's historic central core.

Laurie and I were staying in an Air B&B spot about 650 meters from the team hotel as we would not make the return flight to Lombardia until Tuesday morning, thus enjoying a mini-vacation on this interesting island.

Thanks to the Skorpion leadership group for suggesting that we take advantage of this unique travel option.

After leaving the team at their hotel, we started walking to our accommodations. 

Piazza Yenne

Cagliari is a colorful city

Chiesa Sant'Anna

We were getting close.

It's up this street

Our bedroom in a natural cave

The rustic half of our
weekend home

The other half is a modern, efficient and well stocked facility. Our hosts could not have been any nicer in greeting us or making our stay more comfortable.

Once settled in, we headed back out to find a place to eat and to explore our new surroundings.

A church!

Never would have guessed it.

Lots of big, old buildings

Some eating spots up ahead
but we kept looking

Interesting church entryway
and mini-piazza

Yet another church

We stopped for a café

The team hotel . . .

. . . had a nice vaulted ceiling

It was time to re-board the Pullman for the trip to the stadium. 

Time to Re-Focus

The early morning wake-up, the flight to Cagliari, having a few hours to kill in a new city and the unsettled feeling many of us had about our missing three starting offensive linemen (one injured and two with work commitments) for the game, made me decide to huddle with the team as soon as we were off the bus.

As Yogi Berra once said, "Ninety percent of this game is half mental."

When we got to our locker room our players found all the focus a coach could want when they saw . . . 

. . . this sign posted in our locker room

I'm not 100% sure what it said but the Skorpions were definitely not happy about it.

We were now really focused.
Going over a few things

Almost time

More last second thoughts

One of our biggest concerns going into the game was our offensive line depth. As is the way with the Skorpions, someone would step up for the sake of the team.

This time it would be our Running Backs Coach Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi who had not played in three long years and then as a running back himself. Undersized but mentally tough, blessed with quick feet and with two nights of practice under his belt, he was our starting right tackle tonight!

bumba! Bumba!! BUMBA!!!

Let's kick this game off at last!


Crusaders Ball: A Three and Out, Punt was a great start for our defense.

Skorpions Ball: The Crusaders punt rolled down to the 16 yard line where we started a great drive. TE Pietro Limido made a clutch third down catch to keep the drive alive. We mixed up the run and the pass in fine fashion and got another solid third down conversion on a physical run by Ema Della Bosca. QB Omar Passera hit TE Stefano Granelli with a five yard TD pass to complete as good a time consuming drive as we've had all season. Granelli's PAT kick was true and the men from Varese took the early lead 7-0.

Crusaders Ball: The Cagliari 11 picked up a first down and were driving as the First Quarter came to an end with the Skorpions ahead 7-0.


Cagliari Ball: Their drive, that started in the First Quarter, quickly ended with a punt.

Varese Ball: Our great opening drive was followed by a Three and Out, Punt.

Cagliari Ball: A good defensive effort by the Skorpions led to what should have been another Cagliari Three and Out, Punt but the Crusaders opted for a fake punt. DE Tomas Pedotti and SS Nicolas Principe put a wicked hit on the Cagliari ball carrier forcing a fumble that FS Simone Tettamanti scooped up and ran 45 yards to pay dirt for a Skorpion TD! Granelli continued his perfect night kicking by adding another PAT to up the Varese lead to 14-0.

Cagliari Ball: A great effort on the kickoff team by Giulio Bonfante forced the Cagliari return man out of bounds at the 20 yard line. CB Andrea Mora came up with a big fumble recovery a few plays later to snuff out this Crusader drive.

Varese Ball: Our drive featured some spectacular running by Dylan Auriemma but stalled out near the Red Zone. We had to settle for a 37 yard field goal attempt. Or did we? Holder Gianluca Arena saw something he liked in the Crusaders alignment and called an audible. He then threw a perfect 21 yard TD pass to WB Nicolas Principe! Granelli kicked another PAT and the Skorpions lead was now 21-0.

Cagliari Ball: The Crusaders return man mishandled our kickoff and was tackled inside the one yard line. They picked up a first down on a face mask penalty but our defense made a fourth down stop on what would be the last play of the First Half. The Skorpions were in complete control leading 21-0.  


Skorpions Ball: QB Omar Passera continued his Harry Houdini-like escape act to keep this drive going but the Crusaders eventually forced a Varese punt. A controversial call ensued when the referees ruled that the Cagliari return man first touched the ball which one of our punt coverage players pounced on it. Their ruling stood and it was still our ball. Passera ended this unusual drive with a six yard TD scamper. Granelli refused to miss a PAT tonight and the men from Lombardia led 28-0. Time to start substituting liberally.

Crusaders Ball: A new, 16 year old QB entered the game for the Sardinians. His scrambling hurt us but a huge QB sack by DE Tomas Pedotti led to a fourth down stop on 4th and 30 on the last play of the Third Quarter with the score Skorpions 28 - Crusaders 0.


Varese Ball: Our young but game fourth string RB fumbled the ball back to the Crusaders.

Cagliari Ball: DE/LB Ivan "Swito" Raso would have no patience with our post turnover situation and on back-to-back plays recorded a 7 yard tackle for loss and a 10 yard QB sack! The Crusaders tried a field goal and we looked for a fake deciding to only rush our three defensive linemen. DE Tomas Pedotti blocked their attempt to end their drive.

Varese Ball: The bench was cleared, a couple of first downs were made but we ended up punting the ball. Stefano Granelli boomed a 50 yard punt to pin the Crusaders deep in their own territory with only 40 seconds left in the contest.

Cagliari Ball: We have practiced Hail Mary defense and offense every workout since I arrived in mid-January. I was proud of how our young men handled this unique situation at the end of both halves due to our faith and belief in the Six Ps of coaching . . . Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!

The Final Score was . . .

The Skorpions improved to 5-2 with the win and now play the Group C Champion Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (7-0) on the road in two weeks in the 2018 regular season finale.

The Crusaders' (1-6) last game of 2018 will also be an away game in Varese in two weeks against the 0-6 Gorillas. 

The game about over . . .

. . . it was time to prepare
our post-game talks

Lots of people were considered for the Game Hammer Award including MLB Marco Andreolli, DE Tomas Pedotti and RB Ema Della Bosca for his great blocking but one player, make that player/coach stood out in my mind for both his dedication to the team and his outstanding blocking on goodness only knows until we see the video of how many successful Sweeps we ran to his side.

Bumba, #69, and his Hammer

Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi earned the Hammer which being the unselfish man that he is, he later gave to young, 18 year old MLB Marco Andreoli for his stellar play tonight.

With Crusaders Coach Jarvis McGarrah

He is one of the good guys coaching in EuroBall who is working hard with his team to the end despite their record.

Once the Skorpions were showered and back at the team hotel, it was time to hit the town, as Cagliari is a beach town that does not sleep on a warm Saturday night in May.

The victory celebration was in full swing but Laurie and I decided it would be best to head back to our cave apartment at about 2:00 a.m. and let our guys celebrate to the fullest all night long.

So much for their hotel rooms tonight.

The lit up church at 2:00 a.m.
on our walk home

Division II - Week in Review

Week #11 Results
Varese Skorpions (5-2) 28
Cagliari Crusaders (1-6) 0

Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (7-0) 30
Varese Gorillas (0-6) 14

Bologna Warriors (7-0) 49
Sant'Agata Knights (1-6) 0

Sarzana Red Jackets (2-4)

Group C Standings
1. Busto Arsizio Blue Storms 7-0
2. Varese Skorpions 5-2
3. Cagliari Crusaders 1-6
4. Varese Gorillas 0-6

Week #12 Schedule
Saturday, May 19th
Brescia Bengals (3-3) at Sarzana Red Jackets (2-4)

Sunday, May 20th
Ravenna Chiefs (2-4) at Varese Gorillas (0-6)

Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (7-0)
Cagliari Crusaders (1-6)
Sant'Agata Knights (1-6)
Varese Skorpions (5-2)

This will be an extremely
tough game for us before
heading into the DII playoffs


David said...

So Google says that sign translates to "We could also beat them that are not so strong."

Even losing a little in translation, I can see why it fired your guys up.

George said...


AHA! I see the issue more clearly now.