Monday, June 11, 2018

A WILD, WILD DII Wild Card Playoff Game

Saturday, 9 June, 2018

The start of the 2018 DII Playoffs was finally here!

Game Day would be late tonight for the Skorpions with a road contest kicking off at 9:00 p.m.

A quick look at the two combatants in our DII Wild Card game:

Varese Skorpions
5 Wins - 3 Losses
Second Place in Group C
#10 Playoff Seed


Modena Vipers
6 Wins - 2 Losses
Second Place in Group F
#7 Playoff Seed

It would be a long day for our Skorpions as it takes about three hours to drive to Modena by Pullman, a.k.a., a recliner bus. 

Our entourage met at
Skorpions Field at 2:30 p.m.

The Pullman pulled out at 3:00 p.m.

Team Dinner at Modena's excellent
athletic facility's ristorante at 6:00 p.m.

Pasta for a pre-game meal
but of course

Bread was good too for our men

Ham and Parmesan cheese
was a welcomed dish as well

Time to Warm-Up

It was a hot and humid night

Swito looks ready

Movement after the trip and dinner

Nicolas was jumping for joy
to be in a playoff game

The Skorpions spiritual leader
Giorgio Nardi

The two women in Giorgio's life,
daughter Federica and wife Barbara

Add in their brother/son Raffa, who is a Skorpions Defensive Lineman, and you have the Varese Skorpions' First Family.

With my Agent Laurie Maguire

Benny has done a great job all
season long taking photos of
all phases of Skorpion life

Do-everything Skorpion Pietro Caprioli is our not so mysterious photo bomber.

Pietro and Federica

Pre-Game Scrimmaging

O.C. Gigi Bravin firing up the troops

DC Dani Donati inspiring his charges

Here come the understated Vipers

Captains Out

We won the coin toss and deferred.

First Quarter:

Vipers Ball: A great effort by our Kickoff team forced the Modena squad to start the game at their own 19 yard line. After allowing a first down, our defense held and forced the game's first punt situation. As we had seen on video, the Vipers long-snapper sailed the ball over the punter's head. The punter was downed at the Vipers 13 yard line and we had  our first big break of the game. 

Stefano Granelli applying pressure
 the Vipers QB

Skorpions Ball: We did nothing with this golden opportunity. We ended up attempting a Field Goal, our holder saw the look that we anticipated, called an audible into a pass but we did not complete it. It was a good call we simply did not execute the play.  That's American football sometimes.  

Skorpions chasing down the
Vipers punter after their bad snap

Vipers Ball: A Three & Out Punt! We got an excellent return by Dylan Auriemma to start our drive at the Vipers 27 yard line.

Skorpions Ball: QB Omar Passera hit WR Matteo Mozzanica on a perfect 30 yard bomb for the games first TD! Our PAT sailed wide left but we had the early lead, 6-0.

Stefano Granelli Kicking Off

Skorpions Ball: We had detected a flaw in the Vipers Kickoff Return alignment and decide to roll the dice with a surprise onside kick that worked to perfection as kicker Stefano Granelli gently kicked the ball forward and easily recovered his own kick. Unfortunately we were stymied by the stout Modena defense and had a Three & Out, Punt.

More pressure on the QB by
Stefano Granelli

Vipers Ball: The Vipers started their drive at midfield but fumbled the ball back to us.

QB Omar Passera to WR Martino Piazzi
has been one of DII's best passing
combinations all season long

Skorpions Ball: With WR Martino Piazzi catching the ball and RB Alessandro Brovelli running the rock well, the First Quarter drew to a close with Varese still driving and leading 6-0.

Dylan Auriemma in the open field

Second Quarter:

Varese Ball: Our First Quarter ending drive continued sparked by a key pass reception by WR Giacomo "Jack" Micheli to set up Omar Passera's 2 yard QB Sneak TD call. We again failed to execute a well called audible fake pass on our extra point play. Still, we led 12-0.

We blocked well for Dylan Auriemma
all game long

Modena Ball: Stefano Granelli's kickoff was driven through the End Zone for a touchback. CB Andrea Mora intercepted and returned a Vipers pass and we were in business again at the Vipers 32 yard line.

Omar Passera on a Sprint Out pass

Varese Ball: Thanks to a great hustle play by OL Christian Munoz, we did not lose a fumble by one of our RBs after he had gained about ten yards. QB Omar Passera found WR Matteo Mozzanica in the End Zone again where he made an incredible catch over a Modena defender for his second TD of the night. Stefano Granelli's PAT was true and the Skorpions were shocking everyone with a 19-0 lead.

Running to the ball on Defense

Modena Ball: Another touchback kickoff by Stefano Granelli helped but the Vipers were about to finally wake up and get serious as the First Half was coming to a close. They started to put their size advantage to good use and started pounding the ball at us with verve and effectiveness. Their 80 yard TD drive ended with a 14 yard gallop. They went for two but their pass fell incomplete and our lead was cut to 19-6.

Our earlier onside kick . . .

. . . with Stefano Granelli recovering
his own kick

Varese Ball: A Three and Out, Punt was not what we needed to put out the Vipers fire. Stefano Granelli had a monster punt that helped us greatly!

People on both teams were running
around like madmen all night long

Modena Ball: CB Andrea Mora picked off his second Vipers pass of the game and returned it 40 yards before getting lit up by an angry Viper as the First Half ended with the Skorpions leading 19-6.

The Modena Vipers can
definitely run the ball!

Third Quarter:

Skorpions Ball: We moved the ball a bit thanks to some patented scrambling by QB Omar Passera but had to punt. Stefano Granelli came through yet again with a mortar shot of a punt to pin the men from Modena deep in their territory.

It was getting physical out there!

Vipers Ball: Run, run, run . . . the final carry of their drive covered 32 yards for a TD. The PAT kick was good and now our slim lead was only 19-13.

Give that ball to Brovelli
and let him run, run, run!

Skorpions Ball: We had no answer to the Vipers surge, Three and Out, Punt but Stefano Granelli once again saved our day with yet another magnificent punt paired with awesome punt coverage by the Skorpions.

Go Omar GO!

Vipers Ball: Modena is rolling again but fumbles the ball away to our opportunistic CB Andrea Mora, his third turnover of the game for Varese.

TD Omar Passera!

Skorpions Ball: Dylan Auriemma is running the ball with authority on this drive as the Third Quarter ends with the Skorpions still on top 19-13.

Ema Della Bosca blocking for
Dylan Auriemma

Fourth Quarter:

Varese Ball: Our drive that started in the Third Quarter continued. On Fourth and Goal at the two yard line, RB Ema Della Bosca sprints to the corner for six points! Stefano Granelli kicks another PAT and the Skorpions up our lead to 26-13.

Alessandro Brovelli with a carry

Modena Ball: Another touchback kickoff by Stefano Granelli helps a ton as we need the Vipers to have long fields to start their methodical drives. It was not enough as the Vipers ripped off large chunks of real estate quickly on the ground ending with a two yard TD run and then converting on a two point PAT pass to close our lead to 26-21.

One of Stefano Granelli's many
outstanding contributions tonight
on Special Teams

Varese Ball: The Vipers onside kick attempt against our Hands Team rolls harmlessly out of bounds without covering the necessary ten yards, Skorpions ball at the Modena 36 yard line. Our Offensive Line blocked as well as we have all season and the drive ends with another Omar Passera QB sneak for a TD from one yard out. Stefano Granelli will not fail on his PAT and the Skorpions lead is increased to 33-21.

The Modena Fullback #3 is a
GOOD football player!

Modena Ball: We simply are getting run over by their offense at this point in the game. Their fullback score on a 30 yard run but we block their extra point kick! The score is now Skorpions 33 - Vipers 27.

Matteo Mozzanica's second TD catch

Varese Ball: We recover a Vipers pooch kickoff but go Three & Out, Punt at the worst possible time. Stefano Granelli once again comes up HUGE with another magnificent punt that we cover well.

Every Skorpion was fired up after
Ema Della Bosca's TD run

Modena Ball: The Vipers drive 71 yards to score another rushing TD with 50 seconds left in the game to tie the score at 33 all. All they need is to kick the extra point to take their first lead of the game and a possible trip to the DII Quarter-Finals.
We blocked their PAT kick again!
Skorpions 33 - Vipers 33.

Ema Della Bosca running hard!

Simone Tettamanti and Kristian Basso
on the tackle

Varese Ball: A botched trick play on first down almost leads to a safety! We opt to kill the clock and take our chances in overtime.

Tuck that ball away Alessandro!

It was a PHYSICAL night in
The Pit this evening

One of Andrea Mora's interceptions

Dylan Aurienmma
turning the corner . . .

. . . often tonight

Omar Passera to . . .
. . . Ema Della Bosca

Run Omar RUN!

Sprint Out Pass Protection

The two Head Coaches and
the Captains met before the OT
to go over the rules

We won the coin flip and opted to go on defense first.


Vipers Ball: No surprise here, they ran the ball effectively and scored on a one yard run. The PAT was good and the Vipers led for the first time all night 40-33.

The Vipers Sweep got us
on this play in OT

Skorpions Ball: We made a first down but then on fourth down our QB had to scramble and came up about a yard short of the needed yardage at the four yard line, game and season over for our valiant Skorpions.

We kept playing until the end

Omar played his heart out tonight

In Overtime the Final Score

Both DII Wild Card Games
played today were Overtime Affairs

The other two DII Wild Card Games will be played on Sunday.

The #7 seeded Modena Vipers, now 7-2, will play the #2 seeded Bologna Warriors, 8-0, next weekend in Bologna in a DII Quarter-Final contest.

Talking to the team after the game,
basically saying that I could not be
any prouder of our effort tonight

We are, in the final analysis, a young team who was coming on strong at the end of the season, especially offensively.

The average age of the players who suited up for the Skorpions tonight was 23 while he Vipers average age was 27. That four extra years of physical maturity and experience were a big reason for Modena's well earned victory tonight.

Our team's best seasons are still ahead of us in my opinion if we hit the weight room in the off-season.

Game Hammer Winner
RB Ema Della Bosca

His blocking tonight was superb and he ran the ball hard when given the chance.

One last team photo

Probably not the look that Yary Photography back in Southern California was looking to record.

Our Coaching Staff with my Agent

So ends our Tenth Campaign coaching in EuroBall, another extremely positive and satisfying experience with the great people who call themselves the Skorpion Family.

We'll be back because after all . . .

It's GREAT to be a Skorpion!


David said...

Sounds like a tremendous effort by both teams, with some great reads by your players on audibles that they just couldn't quite take advantage of. Sorry you guys lost, but I think you have to be pleased you went down fighting.

Just out of curiosity, what was the overtime format? Start from the 25, like the NCAAs, or something else?

George said...


Both teams battled all night long, people got their money's worth Saturday night and then some!

We played the NCAA OT with the ball starting at the 25 yard line.