Sunday, March 31, 2019

U19 All-Star Game: Team Italia vs. Team USA AFW Elite

Saturday, 30 March, 2019

The weather in Lombardia this year continues to simply amaze me after last season's cold, wet and snowy Winter and Spring.

Thus a walk was the perfect way to enjoy the day on my way to the local pasticceria, mini-market, bakers, and butcher shops for, in order, my morning cappuccino and brioche, a box of cereal, fresh baked bread and several delicious cuts of meats for my meals this coming week.

 The ancient tower of a small
church in our village was
resplendent today

As for the big deal of the day . . .

It was, of course, yet another
American football game

The game featured this year's U19 Team Italia squad in a game against a contingent of U19 players from America calling themselves USA AFW Elite playing in Milan at the Velodromo Vigorelli.

The Veledromo, with a seating capacity of 9,000, was built in 1935 by Vigorelli Cycles. The original arena burned down during the World II bombing of Milan by the Allies. It was re-built after WWII into its current configuration.

Although they still hold occasional bicycle races here, the main tenant of the Velodromo is the reigning Italian DI American football champion Milano Seamen.

Italy's U19 squad had about 65 players suited out including three from our beloved Varese Skorpions, WR Matteo "Mozza" Mozzanica, LB Stefano "Lusu" Lusuriello and LB/SS Pietro Migliori.

Pietro really needs a nickname.

Mozza started at WR today and had two catches, Lusu was a starting LB and was in on several plays while Pietro was a demon on all of the Special Teams and played Defense in the second half.

The USA AFW Elite had a roster of 33 players who each paid $3,800 to spend the week leading up to today's encounter by practicing and sightseeing in Rome, Florence and the Cinque Terre before arriving in Milan.

 Back in 1965 The Beatles
played a concert at the Velodromo

That is brand new, beautiful artificial
turf that graces the floor of the
Velodromo Vigorelli

The last time that I was at the Vigorelli, I was coaching the Catania Elephants in a 2009 contest against the Milano Rhinos on a hot, hot day. I do not remember those skyscrapers being part of the scenery a decade ago.

Today, thankfully, I was just a spectator enjoy an all-star game from the shaded stands.

The artificial turf back then was rock hard and not much for player safety unlike today's spongy carpet.

That wooden, severely banked
turn is a reminder that this is a
Veledromo for bicycle races after all

Team Italia about to warm-up

LB Lusu and LB/SS Pietro before warm-ups

I don't know where Mozza was at this time.

Here comes TEAM ITALIA!

Team USA AFW Elite team photo

While Team Italia warmed-up
the stands were starting to fill up

The game entry fee was non-existent, no concessions of any kind were being sold and there were no programs which was all a bit disappointing. The powers-that-be wisely opted to only open up one side of the stands and a crowd of about 1,500 fans packed in nicely into the Veledromo's lower North side stands.

 Team USA AFW Elite waiting
for Team Italia to take the field and
the singing of the National Anthems

Team Italia takes the field again

 The singing of the Italian National Anthem
was emotional for the players

Emotional Italians, imagine that.


Pietro on the Kickoff Team,
fourth player on the left

The opening Kickoff

 Team Italia's Defense forced a
Three & Out, Punt on the game's
first drive

It was all downhill after that for the home team.

 The stands were packed in the
area open to spectators

Skorpion Family members Enzo Petrillo (standing in the white shirt), his wife Nency (sitting in front of Enzo) and Pietro Caprioli (seated next to Nency with a cap) were all enjoying the game and rotating for the Skorpion Three.

At the end of the First Quarter the score was USA 14 - Italia 0.

 Lusu #52 was in on this tackle

The Second Quarter was all USA as their superior QB play was just too much for Team Italia, the score at the intermission was USA 42 - Italia 0.

 The Second Half was played with
a Mercy Rule required running clock

The USA squad added another nine points to their tally in the Third Quarter, the score was now USA 51 - Italia 0.

It is American football you know.

 There was lots of action today but
it was definitely the USA's day

The American team added another TD in the Fourth Quarter to make their huge final margin of victory . . .

Total Domination

 After the game the two teams
posed for a group photo

As I like two do when attending any all-star game involving any of our players, I came down onto the field after the game to de-brief our athletes.

Mozza, Lusu, me and Pietro

Even though Team Italia was manhandled, I thought that all three of our Skorpions played well individually.

One last look at the scene at
Velodromo Vigorelli

Time to take a look at the limited action in Italian DII this weekend that has been labeled as Bye Week #1 . . .

Only one was game scheduled in DII this
week as most teams would be missing key
players who were a part of the
Team Italia U19 team today


Group A

Group A Bye Week #1 Results
No Games Scheduled

Group A Standings
1T. Desio Hammers 2-0
Milano Rhinos 2-0
3T. Brescia Bengals 2-1
Cernusco Daemons 2-1
Varese Skorpions 2-1
6T. Palermo Sharks 1-2
Varese Gorillas 1-2
8. Canavese Mastifs 0-2
9. Busto Arsizio Blue Storms 0-3

Group A Week #6 Schedule
Saturday, April 6th
Varese Skorpions (2-1) at
Cernusco Daemons (2-1)

Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-3) at
Brescia Bengals (2-1)

Milano Rhinos (2-0) at
Desio Hammers (2-0)

Canavese Mastifs (0-2)
Palermo Sharks (1-2)
Varese Gorillas (1-2)

Group B

Group B Bye Week #1 Results
No Games Scheduled

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

Group B Week #6 Schedule
Saturday, April 6th
Verona Mastini (3-0) at
Ferrara Aquile (2-2)

Padova Saints (2-1) at
Isonzo Sentinels (1-2)

Castelfranco Cavaliers (0-3)

Group C

Group C Bye Week #1 Results
Reggio Emilia Hogs (3-0) 37
Bologna Braves (1-2) 33

Group C Standings
1. Reggio Emilia Hogs 3-0
2. Roma Pretoriani 2-1
3T. Bologna Braves 1-2
Modena Vipers 1-2
5. Sarzana Red Jackets 1-3

Group C Week #6 Schedule
Saturday, April 6th
Roma Pretoriani (2-1) at
Bologna Braves (1-2) 

Sunday, April 7th
Reggio Emilia Hogs (3-0) at
Modena Vipers (1-2)

Sarzana Red Jackets (1-3)


David said...

I was curious what AFW stood for (American Football Worldwide, the outfit that organizes the trip) and also where the players were from. Finally found a roster:

Lots of Chicago-area and Southern California kids, with most of the latter from San Diego. Glad your guys played well.

George said...

This was a solid group of American HS players, probably all DII and DIII players in the future I suspect.