Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Wild and Wooly Shoot Out in Lombardia, Skorpions vs. Bengals

Saturday, April 27, 2019

It was Game Day in Lombardia for the sixth time in an eight game regular season schedule for the Skorpions on this  day that marked . . .

. . . together with the Skorpions Family

I now only have 80 days left to enjoy all that Italy has to offer this year.

Our game was not scheduled to kickoff until 8:30 p.m. in Brescia, about a two hour bus ride from Varese, so I had time to do a few things on a day with good weather for the first time in a few days.

I started with a glorious walk
to Pasticceria Marabelli for some
much needed sustenance

 Then it was on to the small piazza
by my local butcher shop

Eventually I caught the C line bus into town to the train station in order to renew both my and Laurie's Lombardia transportation passes for the next three months.

Next to the train station they hold a flea market every Saturday morning so I took a look.

Lots of vendors ready to
unburden me of unneeded cash

This Sicilian cheese vendor
always warrants a close look

Nuns need underwear too,
who knew?

When we arrived at Skorpion Field to load up the Pullman for the trip to Brescia, we found our U13 and U15 Flag teams hard at work.

The U17 Flag squad re-scheduled their practice to Sunday as elements of their team play for the Senior Team. Also their DC, Omar Passera, is our Prima Squadra's OC so re-scheduling was a good idea all the way around.

Our Women's Flag team is in Grosetto for a tournament this weekend while our U13, U15 and U17 Flag teams will have their final regular season tournament a week from tomorrow in Bergamo.

 U15 Flag Tackling Drill

U13 scrimmage

It is Game Day after all, so let's take a look at today's match-up.

The Skorpions Game Day Poster

Varese Skorpions
3 Wins - 2 Losses
#7 ranked team in DII
Tied for Third Place in Group A

Season Results
Beat the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-4) 7-6
Lost to the Milano Rhinos (4-0) 24-10
Beat the Palermo Sharks (2-2) 28-21
Lost to the Cernusco Daemons (3-1) 20-14 OT
Beat the Desio Hammers (2-2) 35-12


 The Bengals Game Day Poster

Brescia Bengals
3 Wins - 2 Losses
#8 ranked team in DII
Tied for Third Place in Group A

Season Results
Lost to the Palermo Sharks (2-2) 24-20
Beat the Varese Gorillas (1-2) 41-35
Beat the Canavese Mastifs (0-3) 55-13
Beat the Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-4) 27-0
Lost to the Milano Rhinos (4-0) 49-6

It shaped up to be a tough game
between two solid teams battling
to make the playoffs

And it was.

Brescia's field was an artificial surface
with a full 100 yards for play


The Bengals have a beer sponsor


We should have several good photos from the game in the next few days but for now, Let the Shoot Out begin . . .


Brescia Ball: A solid kickoff return by the Bengals, a HUGE problem all game long, started their opening drive at their own 42 yard line. On their first play, a pass ricocheted off of one of their receivers into the hands of our do-everything LB Stefano Granelli. An interception to start the contest was a good thing.

Varese Ball: Our first Offensive play of the game was not a good one either as the snap sailed over our QB's head which he recovered after a big loss on the play. Wild long snaps would be another HUGE problem for us tonight. On third and long, QB Giacomo "Jack" Micheli found WR Martino Piazzi for a key 25 yard gain and a first down. RB Dylan Auriema's efforts carrying the ball led to the game's first score, a 32 yard field goal by Stefano Granelli. The Skorpions had the early lead 3-0.

Brescia Ball: Another solid kickoff return to the 42 yard line combined with a good mixture of run and pass plays led to a well executed Flea Flicker pass play, good for a 27 yard TD. The Bengals PAT was good and the home team led 7-3.

Varese Ball: Manuel "Biondo"Bulgheroni recovered a surprise on-side kick by the Bengals to start this series. Let me just say now that while we take great pride and work hard on our kicking game daily, we were just flat outplayed and out-coached today by the Bengals in this all important phase of the game. Dylan had a 40 yard run followed by a 15 yard TD pass from "Jack" to Matteo "Mozza" Mozzanica. Stefano's PAT was perfect and the Skorpions had recovered the lead 10-7.

Brescia Ball: Yet another kickoff return to the 42 yard line of the Bengals but this promising start of their drive ended quickly with a diving interception by CB Andrea Mora at the 50 yard line.

Varese Ball: The Skorpions wasted no time with their good field position as "Jack" found "Mozza" on a 20 yard screen pass followed by a Dylan 25 yard run. The drive ended on a three yard TD pass to Riccardo De Micheli. "Jack" was off to a great start with his second TD pass of the game! The Varese lead was now 17-7.

Brescia Ball: A squib kick finally got us good field position to start a defensive series but on third and ten the Bengals executed a perfect middle screen for a 70 yard TD play that left us looking a bit like pregnant longhorns on ice trying to tackle their shifty RB. The PAT was good and the Bengals were breathing down our necks with the score now 17-14 in the Skorpions favor as the First Quarter came to a close.


Skorpions Ball: Auriema had a good kickoff return out to our 48 yard line and "Jack" threw his third TD pass of the night, this time a 42 yard play to Martino. Stefano's PAT split the uprights and the Skorpions' lead was extended to 24-14. We may be scoring too fast but the fans were loving it.

Bengals Ball: Good squib kick coverage again was followed by a Three & Out, Punt by the Varese defense thanks to good pressure on the Bengals' QB.

Skorpions Ball: This drive started at our 39 yard line and following good runs by Dylan and Ema Della Bosca, our man "Jack" found Martino again for a TD, this time from 41 yards out! "Jack" now had FOUR TD passes in less than a half! Stefano's PAT was good again and the Skorpions lead was now 31-14. We should be cruising now, right? WRONG!

Bengals Ball: The squib kick option worked again but the Bengals are mentally tough and simply would not go away. They countered our score with a 60 yard TD run and added another PAT to cut the Varese lead to 31-21.

Skorpions Ball: Our Offense wasn't going anywhere either, as "Jack" hit Martino twice on this drive for a gain of 37 yards on a third down play and then again for a 20 yard TD hookup! It was Martino's third TD catch of the game and, as for "Jack", he now had thrown a whopping FIVE TD passes in the First Half! The score now favored Varese 38-21.

Bengals Ball: The Defense rallied for an apparent Three 7 Out, Punt but our returner muffed the punt and the Bengals recovered it inside our 20 yard line. The Bengals wasted no time in hitting a seemingly well covered receiver for an 11 yard TD play. They added another extra point to cut the Varese lead to 38-28 as the Shoot Out continued.

Skorpions Ball: Emanuele Mascelli returned the kickoff to our 39 yard line and "Jack" found "Mozza" for a 32 yard pass play but the drive ended on a missed, wide left 42 yard field goal attempt.

Bengals Ball: With only a few seconds left in the First Half, our Hail Mary defense did a fine job as "Biondo" knocked down a long pass attempt from the Brescia QB. At the end of the First Half the score was Varese 38 - Brescia 28. We had a game highest point total of the season in just the First Half but were fighting for our lives against an inspired, hard nosed Bengals team.


Varese Ball: Dylan had another good kickoff return out to our 47 yard line and Ema had an excellent run on a gain of 16 yards on a screen pass. Unfortunately, another wild shotgun snap led to an interception, not the way we wanted to start the Second Half.

Brescia Ball: The Bengals continued their assault on our defense but a holding call followed by a big DE Tomas Pedotti QB Sack led to a fourth down and 20 situation that the Bengals converted with a 40 yard TD pass on another middle screen to their RB. The PAT was good and now our Skorpions lead was only 38-35.

Varese Ball: Thanks to two great blocks by Ema, Dylan has two consecutive big gains on sweeps. Ema followed that with a great run of his own. Finally, it was the "Jack" (SIXTH TD pass) to "Mozza" connection again to end this scoring drive on a 41 yard TD WR screen pass. Stefano's PAT was perfect again and the Varese lead was back up to 45-35.

Brescia Ball: With Brescia's return team bunched forward looking for another squib kick, Stefano boomed his kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. A key broken up pass by Biondo on third down followed by a fourth down incomplete pass ended the Brescia threat on this drive.

Varese Ball: Another wild shotgun snap on second down put us in a deep hole as the Third Quarter closed with the Skorpions ahead 45-35.


Skorpions Ball: On third down, it was a wild snap for the second straight play and we were now forced to punt in the shadow of our own end zone on a disastrous Three & Out, Punt drive. Our punt was partially blocked.

Bengals Ball: Pedotti forced a bad pitch on an option play with a big hit on the Brescia QB that led to a 20 yard loss. Stefano at LB made a great open field tackle on fourth down to end a rare Four & Out defensive series.

Skorpions Ball: On our first play Dylan scooted 61 yards for a TD! Stefano continued his good night on PAT's and Varese was ahead 52-35.

Bengals Ball: They just won't quit! The Bengals kickoff return team shredded our kickoff team with a return to our five yard line. On first down DE Davide Vuolo made a nice tackle for a two yard loss but the Bengals scored a TD on a seven yard run. Their two point PAT attempt was successful and the Skorpions lead was down to 52-43. Did I mention that this was a Shoot Out?

Skorpions Ball: Our Hands team responded perfectly to the anticipated Brescia on-side kick as Andrea Mora engulfed the ball and instantly went to the ground. "Jack" was at it again, finding De Micheli on a third down conversion pass. That was followed by an outstanding run by Ema and led to "Jack" throwing his SEVENTH TD pass of the game. This scoring pass was caught by De Michelli, his second of the game. We missed the extra point but led 58-43.

Bengals Ball: Here came the Bengals again, what a tough minded group of players that you just have to admire. Our defense rose to the occasion on this drive as Stefano first made a great tackle on a WR screen and then made the Skorpions third interception of the night near our Goal Line to end Brescia's final drive of the night.

Skorpions Ball: The greatest formation and play in American football is Victory Formation/Take a Knee. We got to call it twice to end the game!



What a great game for the spectators!

On both sidelines we were all emotionally drained by the end of the contest to be sure.

What an incredible job Offensive Coordinator Omar Passera and Offensive Like Coach Leo Pozzato have done so far this season under trying circumstances!

The goal was to load up the bus for the ride back to Varese with a 4-2 record somehow, someway.


 Skorpions celebrating after the loss

Guess who won the coveted Game Hammer for an unprecedented second week in a row?


QB Giacomo "Jack" Micheli
seen here in a game vs. the
Cernusco Daemons a few weeks ago

An almost X-rated
post-game locker room

At the Bengals' snack bar after their
game with their players and two of
tonight's refs on the right

It is this friendliness among all people involved in playing, coaching and refereeing EuroBall games before, during and especially after our games that keeps drawing me back to coaching overseas annually.

Sharing a beer with teammates and opponents after a game kind of puts everything into perspective.


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