Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Canavese Mastifs Invade Skorpion Field

Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Week #12, the final week of the 2019 Italian DII regular season, was upon us.

In other words . . .

. . . It was INDEED Game Day!

But first we have to check in with Il Giro d'Italia's culinary guide for today's stage of Italy's premier bicycle race.

It looks like the only thing to do between
Courmayeur and Saint-Vincent is to
order meat and cheese plates

I'm more than OK with that.

Meanwhile, back at Scorpion Field . . .

An important game for both teams

Win or lose, both teams were going to the 12 team playoffs that start in two weeks.

For the red hot Mastifs, it was a chance to finish the regular season at 4-4 with a win, no mean feat after an 0-3 start to their season. Their biggest problem tonight was playing their third game in just eight days due to a rescheduling this past Wednesday night of a Week #9 game that was postponed due to lightning.

For our Skorpions, it would first be a test of our manhood as the Mastifs live up to their nicknames by being a big, physical team that dominates with a ground oriented attack spearheaded by a 280+ pound running back who is remarkably quick on his feet. Our goal was to win our sixth game of the season and to enter the playoffs on a four game win streak.

To compound things, we were hit by a tropical downpour about three hours before kickoff but our weather was good and the field was in good condition at 6:30 p.m.

 The Canavese Mastifs
3 Wins - 4 Losses
Season Results
Lost Cernusco Daemons (6-1) 0-42
Lost Brescia Bengals (4-4) 13-55
Lost Palermo Sharks (3-4) 14-20
Beat Varese Gorillas (2-5) 54-40
Beat Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-7) 13-6
Lost Milano Rhinos (7-0) 12-38
Beat Desio Hammers (2-5) 25-0


 The Varese Skorpions
5 Wins - 2 Losses
Ranked #7 in DII
Season Results
Beat Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (0-7) 7-6
Lost Milano Rhinos (7-0) 24-10
Beat Palermo Sharks (3-4) 28-21
Lost Cernusco Daemons (6-1) 20-14 OT
Beat Desio Hammers (2-5) 35-12
Beat Brescia Bengals (4-4) 58-43
Beat Varese Gorillas (2-5) 14-6

A last smoke before suiting
up for this Mastif

Laurie, Robby and Enzo
taking the field

Mastifs taking the field with
a bit more authority

Here come the Skorpions!

Pre-game Hoopla

We had a moment of silence
just before the kickoff for a
referee who recently passed away

WR Matteo Mozzanica, only 18 years old,
would have a BIG DAY

No Dani, you can't use him as a DB.

QB Giacomo "Jack" Micheli

He has become such a great leader this season, a QB's most important asset I believe.

 WR Riccardo de Micheli

What a great addition he has been to our offense!

 LB/K/P Stefano Granelli

He does not like to ever leave the field.

LB Denys "Freccia" Tommasi did a
splendid job on Special Teams today

DT Raffa Nardi really stepped
up his game today

RB Coach and RB Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi
continues to inspire old people everywhere
with his passionate play during this
RB injury plagued season

DL Nicola "Baffo" Ruggiero is so
coachable and really played well
today, easily his best game in the
two years I've been in Varese

And then there is Swito

LB Ivan "Swito" Raso is one of those characters that make coaching both fun and interesting. Representing Calabria, he had a TREMENDOUS game today.

 RB Dylan Auriema is well aware
of the importance of Bumba's blocking
to his physical well being

 Let the Game BEGIN!


Mastifs Ball: Our opening Kickoff was caught at the eight yard line where the Canavese return man promptly slipped and fell down, a good start for us. The Mastifs then proceeded to matriculate the ball down the field in their patented ball control style. It was a non-explosive but physical 92 yard TD drive that ended with an eight yard scoring run followed by a successful PAT attempt. The Mastifs had the early 7-0 lead. This 19 play drive did not bode well at all for our team.

Big Mastifs running powerfully

We needed lots hats on the ball carrier

 Closing in on HUGE RB #45

He was a LOAD!

See what I mean?

Bodies everywhere

Skorpions Ball: A solid Kickoff Return by Emanuele "Masch" Mascelli started our drive at our 32 yard line. Martino Piazzi's good catch and a face mask penalty got us deep into Canavese territory before we turned the ball over on downs.

Their runners were hard to bring down

 We needed great pursuit and
gang tackling

 This was good

This was better

Mastifs Ball: Their first play popped for a 30 yard run as the quick First Quarter came to a close with the Mastifs ahead 7-0.

Skorpions running to the ball to
help Raffa Nardi bring down the House


Dylan Auriema making plays
with his magical feet


Canavese Ball: Their First Quarter ending drive continued but quickly ended in a turnover on downs as our Defense was starting to get into a groove.

Jack had another good day passing

Dylan getting into the open field
thanks to a good block by Michael Di Losa

Varese Ball: Our Offense fed off of our Defense's fine performance in the last Mastifs drive. Two 15 yard runs by Dylan Auriema and a 20 yard catch by Martino Piazzi got the Skorpions to the Canavese 25 yard line where QB Giacomo "Jack" Micheli hit WR Matteo "Mozza" Mozzanica on a perfect Fly pattern for six points. Stefano Granelli's kick was good and we had a new game at 7-7.

Mozza going deep . . .

 . . . he could go all the way . . .

. . . and he did for a TD!

The PAT was GOOD!

Our Defense got better and better
as the game wore on 

Mora to the rescue!

Canavese Ball: We opted for a squib kickoff which took a couple of favorable bounces and our team covered well led by Denys "Freccia" Tommasi's tackle at the 24 yard line. The Mastifs did get two first downs but finally punted.

 Oh goodness, here comes the
House again, Vuolo and Mora
about to make a tackle

What is that Tackle doing to our Linebacker?

That ball does tend . . .

. . . to draw a crowd!

Varese Ball: A short lived drive ended with an interception.

Back on Defense

CB Andrea Mora may be giving
up a few pounds to the House

But there is a lot of heart in this Skorpion!

Mora made the play!

He got in on this one too!

Legs flying EVERYWHERE!

As close to a Family Portrait as
Laurie and I get on Game Day

Canavese Ball: The Skorpion Defense was up to the challenge and quickly put out the fire with a Three and Out, Punt.

Another big catch by Mozza

I'm guessing that the House ran over
four of us on this play

The Wreck of the Hesperus Part II?

I think #90 should get a
dying cockroach decal for this block

As I said at the beginning of this post, this figured to be a physical game against a big team.

A GREAT play behind the line of
scrimmage by
DL Nicola "Baffo" Ruggiero

Our Offense was back on the field
with only 1:41 left in the First Half,
what do we do?

Varese Ball: Simple really, have "Jack" throw a WR Screen to "Mozza" for a 73 yard TD pass. Our holder audibled for a two-point pass play that fell incomplete but the Skorpions had their first lead of the game 13-7.

Mozza starting his trip . . .

. . . down the field . . .

. . . for his second . . .


QB/Holder Mathias Masini's errant
two point play

Here comes the Counter yet again!

Canavese Ball: After another good squib kick, the Mastifs ran a couple of plays before the First Half ended with the score Varese 13 - Canavese 7.

 Skorpions Toss Sweep

 The House again . . .

 . . . and again!

 How did that feel?

Actually it hurts a bit


Skorpions Ball:  "Masch" had a great Kickoff Return due to some good blocking and we started the Second Half at the Mastifs' 47 yard line. "Mozza" made another fine reception during the drive that finished with a third TD pass by "Jack,this time to WR Riccardo De Micheli from the eight yard line. Granelli's PAT kick was true again and the Skorpions had extended their lead to 20-7.

LB Swito making a huge
tackle for loss on the House

Biondo on the First Hit

Martino blocking for Dylan 

Mastifs Ball: "Freccia" made another great Kickoff tackle at the 25 yard line to set the tone for this drive. The Mastifs embarked on yet another ground and pound drive which was effective but also ate up a lot of time which was fine by us with a two score lead. Eventually, the Canavese squad turned the ball over on downs.

Does that big RB ever get tired?

A Mastifs pass!

They completed four passes for five total yards tonight.

Skorpions Ball: The Varese team threw their second interception of the game to end the Third Quarter but the Skorpions still led 20-7 with only 12 minutes left in the contest.

 Again with #45

 We were still playing swarming,
attacking defense

How much does that guy really weigh?

A different look at Monza's 73 yard TD

Bumba about to block on the
WR Screen

Mozza breaking a tackle

Turning on the jets!

G-O-N-E . . .

Scoring is . . .

. . . EXCITING!!!


Canavese Ball: The Mastifs showed their grit making third and fourth down conversions but penalties stalled their drive and they turned the ball over on downs.

"Jack" to . . .

. . . Riccardo for SIX in the Third Quarter

More Canavese runs

 Physical, Old School Football

 Keep swarming, keep hustling

Raffa Nardi vs. the House

Varese Ball: RB Coach/RB Cristian "Bumba" Bianchi decided to take over the end of the game again with several punishing runs to set up "Jack's" fourth TD pass of the game, this one a 55 yard affair to "Mozza". It was "Mozza's" third TD grab of the night. "Jack" was 10 for 15 passing for 212 yards with 4 TD passes and 2 interceptions. "Mozza" caught 4 passes for 160 yards and 3 TDs. Granelli kicked another PAT to up the score to a comfortable 27-7 Skorpion advantage.

Two of our starting Offensive Linemen
Center Gabriele "Capo" Di Stefano and
Guard Michael Di Losa

Capo, a two year Prima Squadra starter, and Michael, a first year starter, are both just 18 years of age.

Starting Offensive Tackles
Niko Moruzzi and Christian Munoz

Neither one is even close to still being 18 years old.

Oh great, now the House has
found the energy to leap over
would-be tacklers

Late in the game and our Defense
is still playing tough!

Dylan being led into the hole
by Tackle Christian Munoz

"Jack" letting another one fly

Good open field tackle on Martino
by a Mastif DB

 Stefano taking on the Counter

Bumba Time!

Mozza had another amazing game

D.J. knows a TD when
he sees one

Masch's  great Kickoff Return
to start the Second Half

Dylan's running provides solid
balance to our passing attack

Dylan on the Edge

Thanks to good blocking by our linemen and fullback, Dylan ran for 72 yards on just 11 carries for a 6.5 yard average.

Canavese Ball: We got as many of our young players onto the field as possible on Defense and they responded with a Three and Out, Punt series.

Another look at Riccardo's TD catch

Our Defense continues to . . .

. . . play HARD!

A successful PAT attempt by
Stefano Granelli

DB Coach Dario D'Adelfio

Dario is the former Palermo Shark and Catania Elephant who first contacted me about coming to Varese to coach the Skorpions two years ago.

GRAZIE, Dario!

Varese Ball: Two passes by our young back-up QB was all that was needed to run out the last 14 seconds of the game.


The win put our record at 6-2 and on a four game winning streak heading into the playoffs in two weeks with a home game.

After the game talking to the
Mastifs Father-Son coaching team
of, R., Bryant and Dale Stott

They both came across as good people who have their roots coaching in Arizona. They have really done a fine job with the Mastifs getting them to improve and play hard through the entire season.

At 3-5, they will probably still make the playoffs as the 12th and final seed.

Talking with the Skorpions
after the game

 Swito earned the Game Hammer

Talk about an excited muddy player!

Typical of this fun, intense team of Skorpions, they were as happy for Swito as Swito was for himself. 

 Fired Up and Ready for a
night at the BellaVita Cafè
to celebrate!

With Enzo and D.J.

Our WACKY coaching staff

These men definitely get our players ready to play every week!


Coach Leo Pozzato and his
Offensive Linemen

Leo has done a great job getting the most out of this group the last two seasons.

Our OL has characters and character

Riccardo, Mozza, Jack and Martino

The spearhead of our rapidly improving passing attack.

Our Defense played an amazing
game tonight

 Our OL always supports
QB Jack's efforts

Our Defensive Line with our
Defensive coaches plus
a photo bombing Coach Leo

Dario and his DB's

No, I don't understand this photo either.

What a great group of alumni
players who constantly support
our new generation of Skorpions

 Stefano really needed a smoke
after this physical game

I needed a beer actually.

Post game talk with Capo

A great, hard working young lineman who is only going to get better.

The Skorpion Field Snack Bar did
land office business . . .

. . . DEEP into the night

It was truly a BEAUTIFUL
night for American football!

It's GREAT to be a Skorpion!!


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