Monday, March 4, 2019

Opening Day of the Skorpions 2019 Season

Sunday, 3 March, 2019

Today was my 45th day living in Varese this season which means that a full 25% of my 180 days residing in Lombardia in 2019 have passed.

Time flies when you are coaching the Skorpions.

Well, let's get to it, it was finally time for the 2019 Varese Skorpions' Opening Game! 

Nothing quite like the excitement
and apprehensions of the year's
first contest

Varese Skorpions (0-0)


Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-0)

This was going to be a tough opener for us as the Blue Storms have been the powerhouse DII club in our area in recent years. Their regular season record over the last four campaigns has been a phenomenal 29-3!

The Blue Storms are noted for playing a hard nosed, ground oriented brand of football that wears opponents down as their games progress.

As for the Skorpions, we entered the game with serious reservations as both of our starting Running Backs suffered injuries in our scrimmage against the Milano Seamen last Sunday and would not suit out today.

Before the game, I asked three things from our team on this absolutely BEAUTIFUL day for American football.

First, remember that the average football play lasts about four seconds, play with great effort in each of those four second bursts!

Second, it will be a tough game against a strong opponent, show courage and play with great heart!

Finally, things will go bad at times during the game, that's American football, be loyal to each other during the hard times.

Little did I know how positively our team would respond to these three requests. 

Our opponents run a First Class
operation from start to finish

The Home of the Blue Storms

Skorpions getting in another
smoke while waiting to be taped

These are my guys

Blue Storms Catch Phrases

The noted Milan fashion model,
known simply as DJ, was at our game!

DC Dani Donati addressing his troops

DB Coach Dario D'Adelfio
warming-up his players

LBs taking on blockers before the game

The Blue Storms ready to take the field

Here come the SKORPIONS!

Captains out


First Quarter:

Varese Ball: Emanuele Mascelli did a good job returning the season's opening kickoff but we looked a bit nervous to start out and we were forced into a Three & Out, Punt. Stefano Granelli's punt was a good one to pin the Blue Storms deep in their own territory.

Battling in the Pit

Busto Arsizio Ball: As expected, the Blue Storms started the game with a heavy dose of their running game but our defense held and we forced them to punt.

Skorpions QB Giacomo "Jack" Micheli
had a rough go of it in his first game
at the helm in two years but he was both
resilient and a leader throughout the day

Varese Ball: Two excellent catches by Martino Piazzi and Matteo Mozzanica got us going but our drive ended when we threw an interception. Turnover #1.

Matteo Mozzanica with a
fine catch and run

Busto Arsizio Ball: The Skorpion Defense put out the fire quickly forcing a Three & Out, Punt thanks to back-to-back tackle for loss and QB Sack plays by OLB Stefano Granelli that accounted for minus 18 yards.

#9 Stefano Granelli had a GREAT day!

Busto Arsizio Ball: Disaster! The Blue Storms' punt bounced and then inadvertently first hit the leg of one of our CBs that was blocking their WR/Gunner. A Blue Storms player recovered the now live ball. Turnover #2.

The First Quarter ended with the score
Skorpions 0 - Blue Storms 0.

Second Quarter:

Blue Storms Ball: The Busto Arsizio drive after our botched Punt Return continued into the Second Quarter and so did our Defense's toughness as we forced the Blue Storms to turn the ball over on downs.

#92 DE Davide Vuolo going all out

Skorpions Ball: On our first play, we completed a pass but our WR fumbled the ball away. Turnover #3.

Stefano Granelli rallying the Defense
again in the huddle

Blue Storms Ball: Whatever Stefano said in that huddle worked because on the Blue Storms first play, Skorpion CB Federico Zanetta made a great break on the ball to intercept the Busto Arsizio pass.

GREAT pick Z!

Skorpions Ball: Disaster yet again! We threw an interception to a Blue Storms OLB who returned it about 20 yards for the game's first TD. Turnover #4. Their PAT attempt started with a bad snap, followed by a "FIRE" call that our defense smothered. The score was now Blue Storms 6 - Skorpions 0.

Our Defense did a lot
of smothering today

Skorpions Ball: We picked up a first down but were forced to eventually punt.

Big QB Sack by the Defense

Blue Storms Ball: We were stung by a 20 yard Counter play on fourth down but would weather that storm and again force the Blue Storms to turn the ball over on downs when we stopped their fake punt attempt easily.

CB #24 Federico Zanetta with
a fine pass breakup

Skorpions Ball: We had the ball deep in our own end of the field with just seconds left in the First Half, so we wisely took a knee to end the Second Quarter with the score still Busto Arsizio 6 - Varese 0.

During the 20 minute halftime, I got the eerie feeling of supreme confidence from our players even though we trailed in the game and had had four turnovers in the first 24 minutes.

We had played hard and did indeed show great heart. At halftime the loyalty and trust apparent in the Skorpions was amazing given our circumstances.

All we needed was one play to win this game.

Third Quarter:

Busto Arsizio Ball: Stefano Granelli's kickoff bounce through the end zone for a touchback. The Defense set the tone for the second half with a Three & Out, Punt series.

Our Do-Everything player
Stefano Granelli

Varese Ball: On third down we threw an interception. Turnover #5.

#33 WR Emanuele Mascelli did a
fine job today as our emergency 
Running Back

Busto Arsizio Ball: The Defense continued to shine, Three & Out, Punt!

Davide Vuolo harassing the
Blue Storms QB

Varese Ball: Our Offense got a little drive started thanks to the running of Emanuele Maschelli and a big pass play from Giacomo Micheli to Matteo Mozzanica. We were deep in Blue Storm territory when it happened again, an interception followed by a large return into our end of the field. Turnover #6.

Could the Defense rally again?

Busto Arsizio Ball: DE Davide Vuolo made a huge third down QB Sack as the Third Quarter came to a close with the score still Blue Storms 6 - Skorpions 0.

DC Dani Donati teaching
on the sideline

I was very proud of our Coaching Staff today as they calmly taught and encouraged our team throughout the contest regardless of what was going on on the field.

I believe that this positive, we're in this thing together type of attitude really helped our players to continually focus on the next play, not the last one.

I remembered one of our old coaching axioms . . .
The louder I yell, the less they hear.


But we still needed that one play . . .

Fourth Quarter:

Blue Storms Ball: Their drive that started at the end of the Third Quarter continued with another fourth down stop by our magnificent Defense!

Good block by Right Tackle
Nicolo "Il Postino" Moruzzi

Skorpions Ball: It was time to win this thing! Our beleaguered Offense suddenly came to life on the legs of RBs Sergio Montalbetti, Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi (yes, even our 35 year old RB Coach suited up due to our RB injury situation) and Emanuele Maschelli as the entire Offensive Line suddenly came of age during, by far, our best drive of the day. With the ball on the 25 yard line, Stefano Granelli, perhaps our fastest player and definitely our squad's spiritual leader, entered the game as a Running Back for the first time. On a Sweep Right, the line, Fullback and WRs all blocked exceptionally well and Stefano streaked into the End Zone for the much needed six points on his first carry of the year! Stefano, who else, kicked the PAT and some how, some way, improbably the gutty Skorpions now had the lead with about four minutes left in the game, Varese 7 - Busto Arsizio 6

Coach Bumba blocking for Masch

Blue Storms Ball: Stefano Granelli to the rescue again as his kickoff sailed through the end zone. The proud Skorpion defense would have none of it as we stopped the Blue Storm offense cold getting them to turn the ball over on downs without making a first down!

Mozza with about to make another

Skorpions Ball: The clock, not the Blue Storms, was now the opponent. We ran the ball four times forcing the Blue Storms to use their final timeout in the process. We wound up just short of a first down but felt good given the way our Defense was playing, the ball at the Blue Storms 15 yard line, the lack of Busto Arsizio timeouts and only about a minute left in the game.


Blue Storms Ball: OH, NO! A Blue Storms receiver caught a ball in the seem and streaked for about 40 yards before CB Andrea Mora's great effort and courage caught up to him from the far side of the field for a game saving tackle. The Skorpion's Defense did not flinch as CB Federico Zanetta made his second interception on the game!

Stefano Granelli bulldogging a
Blue Storm receiver

Skorpions Ball: Time for the BEST play in American football, out of Victory Formation, TAKE A KNEE! We did it three times and the game was over.

Final Score

What a GREAT victory and such a tribute to our team's great spirit, courage and feelings of brotherhood.

Masch turning the corner

FB Bumba leading Stefano on his . . .

. . . sprint to pay dirt!

The view of Stefano's TD run from
the Varese Skorpions' fan viewpoint

It was close but Stefano made
the crucial, winning PAT

Three yards and a cloud of dust

Andrea Mora's game saving tackle
with several Skorpions in hot pursuit

#9 Stefano Granelli was the easy choice
to receive the Game Hammer Award

An EXTREMELY happy group of
Skorpions after the game

Two of our young pups who played
well in their first Senior Team game

DE Davide Vuolo who had a timely QB Sack, on the left, with CB Federico Zanetta who had two drive killing interceptions.

It was a GREAT feeling to win against
such a quality opponent after facing
so much adversity

Let's see what else went
on in Italy's Second Division today


Group A Results
Varese Skorpions (1-0) 7
Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-1) 6

Monza Brianza Hammers (1-0) 21
Varese Gorillas (0-1) 15

Palermo Sharks (1-0) 24
Brescia Bengals (0-1) 20

Cernusco Daemons (1-0) 42
Canavese Mastifs (0-1) 0

Milan Rhinos (0-0)

Group B Results
Verona Mastini (2-0) 28
Ferrara Aquile (0-2) 3

Castelfranco Cavaliers (0-0)
Isonzo Sentinels (0-1)
Padova Saints (1-0)

Group C Results
Bologna Braves (1-0) 26
Modena Vipers (0-1) 20

Reggio Emilia Hogs (1-0) 29
Sarzana Red Jackets (0-2) 6

Roma Pretoriani (1-0)


Group A Standings
1T. Cernusco Daemons 1-0
Monza Brianza Hammers 1-0
Palermo Sharks 1-0
Varese Skorpions 1-0
5. Milan Rhinos 0-0
6T. Brescia Bengals 0-1
Busto Arsizio Blue Storms 0-1
Canavese Mastifs 0-1
Varese Gorillas 0-1

Group A Schedule 
Saturday, March 9th
Milano Rhinos (0-0) at
Varese Skorpions (1-0)

Varese Gorillas (0-1) at
Brescia Bengals (0-1)

Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-1) at
Cernusco Daemons (1-0)

Monza Brianza Hammers (1-0)
Palermo Sharks (1-0)
Canavese Mastifs (0-1)

Group B Standings
1. Verona Mastini 2-0
2. Padova Saints 1-0
3. Castelfranco Cavaliers 0-0
4. Isonzo Sentinels 0-1
5. Ferrara Aquile 0-2

Group B Schedule
Saturday, March 9th
Castelfranco Cavaliers (0-0) at
Isonzo Sentinels (0-1)

Ferrara Aquile (0-2)
Padova Saints (1-0)
Verona Mastini (2-0)

Group C Standings
1T. Bologna Braves 1-0
Reggio Emilia Hogs 1-0
Roma Pretoriani 1-0
4. Modena Vipers 0-1
5. Sarzana Red Jackets 0-2

Group C Schedule
No Games Scheduled

Bologna Braves (1-0)
Modena Vipers (0-1)
Reggio Emilia Hogs (1-0)
Roma Pretoriani (1-0)
Sarzana Red Jackets (0-2)


David said...

Had 'em all the way.

George said...

It was NEVER in doubt!

Yeah, RIGHT.