Sunday, March 24, 2019

Another WACKY Game for the Cardiac Kids that are the 2019 Varese Skorpions

Saturday, 23 March, 2019

After a long two weeks, it was finally . . .


The Palermo Sharks
1 Win - 1 Loss
Beat the Brescia Bengals (2-1) 24-20
Lost to the Varese Gorillas (1-2) 20-35


The Varese Skorpions
1 Win - 1 Loss
Beat the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-2) 7-6
Lost to the Milano Rhinos (1-0) 10-24

This figured to be a difficult game and it turned out to be just that. We saw them play last Saturday night against the Gorillas and, even though they lost, I was impressed by how hard they played from start to finish with great passion for the game. With only 24 Sharks on the roster, the men from Palermo have to play with tons of passion.

Teams with that kind of spirit and character are always tough to beat.

Our kickoff was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. so the Skorpions all had an early morning wake-up call.

We had to move the kickoff back to Noon as the bus that was scheduled to pick up the Sharks at Milan's Malpensa Airport showed upon late and got the Palermo squad to Skorpions Field at 10:30. 

The Souvenir Stand was ready
for the onslaught of sales

QB Giacomo Micheli warming-up

He had an outstanding game today!

Emanuele Mascelli had a HUGE
Punt Return today!

LB Ivan "Swito" Raso
Team First . . . ALWAYS!

The usual pre-game talk with
the game's referees

 Part of the Pre-Game Roster Check



Palermo Ball: Due to an unusual Kickoff Return formation by the Sharks, we opted to start the game with on onside kick. Our usually reliable, excellent kicker took his eye off the ball at the last second and had a 99% whiff with the missing 1% propelling the ball forward about four achingly slow yards. At this point, ten Skorpions were racing forward to block/recover the errant onside kick while our kicker just looked at the ball and turned to talk to the ref! Both sidelines were screaming for their respective players to pounce on the ball. A Shark was the first to finally realize that a Big Play was possible. He scooped up the ball and raced 39 yards to pay dirt for the game's first six points. The Palermo PAT attempt was true, the Sharks led quickly 7-0.

Varese Ball: First play of the game for the home team was a pass. It was intercepted.

Palermo Ball: A 53 yard drive ended with a ten yard QB scramble for another Sharks TD. The Sharks PAT was good again as the Palermo squad leaped to a quick 14-0 lead. So, a test of our team's character it was then.

#24 CB Federico Zanetta on the tackle
with LB #57 Stefano Lusuriello in pursuit

Skorpion Defenders
swarming to the ball

Action EVERYWHERE you look!

Sharks QB scrambling for a TD

Varese Ball: Our top RB, Dylan Auriema, was playing in his first game of the season after suffering a hamstring pull in our Milano Seamen scrimmage. He added some punch to our Offense with excellent Sweep runs but another interception ended the Skorpions second drive.

Palermo Ball: Now playing with great confidence, the Sharks kept moving the ball but would eventually be forced to punt. The Palermo punt went out of bounds deep in the "Coffin Corner" at our two yard line.

Dylan Auriema ran well again to get us out of the hole as the First Quarter ended with the Sharks in a commanding position leading 14-0

Dylan Auriema with the ball


Skorpions Ball: The Varese drive that started in the First Quarter continued, but not for long. Lightning struck when QB Giacomo Micheli hit WR Riccardo De Micheli on a short route. Riccardo broke two tackles and was off to the races. His sprint to the goal line and our first TD of the day covered a total of 87 yards! Our kicking problems continued as our PAT attempt sailed wide right. The Sharks lead was cut to 14-6.

WR Riccardo De Micheli . . .

. . . could go . . .

. . . all the way!

The ensuing Kickoff was a touchback

Sharks Ball: Our Defense forced a Three & Out, Punt. Punt Returner Emanuele Mascelli caught the punt at the 50 yard line, weaved his way through traffic picking up a few bone jarring blocks along the way and half a gridiron later had the Skorpions second TD of the game. The Skorpions went for two points and the Micheli to Da Micheli pass connection worked again to perfection. We had a new ball game as the scoreboard read Skorpions 14 - Sharks 14.

OK, OK, I admit it, Skorpion Field does not have a scoreboard.

Punt Returner Emanuele Mascelli
entering traffic . . .

. . . exiting traffic after reading
some outstanding blocks . . .

. . . and making one more cut
for six much needed points!

Sharks Ball: The Palermo squad responded with true grit with a good 12-play drive that mixed running and passing plays and featured a couple of long third down conversions. The Sharks cashed in with a 15 yard TD pass in the corner of the end zone off of a deflection and converted their PAT attempt to make the score 21-14 in favor of the Sharks.

Skorpions Ball: The Sharks Kickoff almost rolled out of bounds at the 15 yard line but at the last second our return man, Stefano Granelli, decided to pick up the ball, OH NO! Stefano traversed the field a couple of times, got some more great Special Teams blocks and 85 yards later crossed the Goal Line. Our PAT attempt sailed wide right again. The Sharks lead was now 21-20.

The end of Stefano Granelli's
85 yard TD Kickoff Return

Sharks Ball: Our Kickoff was another touchback and after two QB Sacks, the Sharks had to punt from their own ten yard line.

Skorpions Ball: There was only 49 seconds left in the Half, so the Skorpions went into hurry-up mode but a fourth down QB sack ended our drive.

Sharks Ball: OLB Stefano Granelli knocked down the Sharks Hail Mary pass perfectly to end a weird and wacky First Half with the Sharks leading 21-20.

Matteo Mozzanica on a
WR Screen pass

 Dylan Auriema running the rock

A "Dying Cockroach" block just behind Dylan by Tackle Mike Di Losa, I believe.

Same run by Dylan after a good
cut and a fine burst of speed


Varese Ball: We came out of the Half Time break with easily our best Offensive drive of the season. We worked the ball down the field in SIXTEEN plays ending with a 15 yard TD pass from QB Giacomo Micheli to WR Martino Piazzi. We had another successful two-point PAT pass play from Micheli to Riccardo De Micheli. The Skorpions now led 28-21.

WR Martino Piazzi's TD grab
QB Giacomo Micheli to . . .

. . . WR Riccardo De Micheli for Two Points!

Palermo Ball: Due to poor coverage by our Kickoff team, the Sharks had good field position to start this final drive of the period. As the Third Quarter ended, the score was Varese 28 - Palermo 21.

 DE #92 Davide Vuolo about to
make a big tackle

 RB Dylan Auriema had a good game
and sparked our Offense today

OLB Stefano Granelli played GREAT
on Defense once again today

 Sharks and Skorpions looking
for a lost contact lens perhaps

 The Pit

 FB/Coach Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi
blocking for Dylan

Good passing form by
QB Giacomo Micheli who had a
great, GREAT game today


Sharks Ball: The Palermo drive that started in the Third Quarter ended with a fourth down pass break up by CB Federico Zanetta.

Skorpions Ball: It was a bad time for a Three & Out, Punt but Stefano Granelli had a good punt that died at the 19 yard line.

Lots of contact on this pass
to Riccardo De Micheli 

Bumba had some
good Second Half runs

Matteo Mozzanica is becoming an
EXCELLENT American football player

Sharks Ball: We got successive big plays from SS Lorenzo Pizzetti (a QB sack), CB Federico Zanetta (a pass break up) and LB Ivan "Swito" Raso (another QB sack) but then allowed the Sharks to convert on 4th and 20. Stefano Granelli made the play with a solid tackle on the Sharks next four down play to end the Palermo eleven's final drive of the day.

A PHYSICAL defensive play by
the Skorpions

Skorpions Ball: We got to use the best play in any American football playbook, Victory Formation, Take a Knee!

The Final Score was . . .

The Cardiac Kids came through again!

Impromptu post-game team photo
of the now 2-1 Varese Skorpions

We will now go through another dreaded Bye week before playing on the road in two weeks against the 2-0 Cernusco Daemons who play the 1-0 Milano Rhinos tomorrow.

The now 1-2 Sharks now must endure two consecutive Bye weeks before hosting the 0-2 Canavese Mastifs.

After the game I got a chance to catch up with La Porta brothers who were Defensive Linemen from our shared 2009 season with Sicily's Catania Elephants. Both Mauro and Gino are now key members of the Palermo Sharks.

With the Sharks DE Mauro La Porta and
Defensive Line Coach Gino La Porta

It was great to see these two really good people today who continue too be passionate about the great game of American football!

One of the Varese Gorillas coaches was at our game to scout us and, as is normal in EuroBall circles, any and everyone involved in our sport sticks around for the post-game prosecco and chit-chat. We struck up a conversion and was shocked when the topic of bye weeks came up in the conversation.

As I've stated, I hate bye weeks and dread a stretch in May where we will have two consecutive Bye weeks.

Then I found this out from the Gorillas coach . . .

 Incredibly, this is the first of
FIVE consecutive Bye weeks
for the Gorillas!

Five consecutive Bye weeks in the middle of an eight game regular season. Who comes up with these oddball schedules?

The day was not over at Skorpion Field just yet, our U17, U15 and U13 all had flag practices to conduct in the afternoon.

U13 Sweep play

U15 Bombs Away!

A good catch by a U17 receiver

A wacky, emotionally draining victory during a long day in the hot Italian sun combined with prosecco, cheese and assorted meats was enough for me today.

I headed home early for a simple, home made dinner and hit the sack early for once.

Being 2-1 is a GOOD thing!
Go Skorpions GO!

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