Thursday, May 31, 2018

Preparing to Face the Modena Vipers Delaware Wing-T Offense

Wednesday, 30 May, 2018

We used the day to read, relax, do laundry, view video of our upcoming playoff opponent the Modena Vipers and research how to defend their Delaware Wing-T offense.

The Delaware Wing-T offense is dear to my heart as we ran it at Westlake H.S. and Rio Mesa H.S. in California when I was their Head Coach for about 17 seasons back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

I have always loved to hear coaches wax poetic about the superiority of the current day spread offenses and then see them react in a somewhat panicked mode when fates place them against an extremely old-school offense like the Delaware Wing-T.

Our Varese Skorpions are no different. It is an unusual offense that indeed presents many problems for our defense.

Fortunately, the bye week gives us two extra practices to prepare and we've scheduled at least two Defensive meetings to get a solid visual picture of what awaits us in Modena the evening on June 9th.

It will be hard for our Scout Team to simulate the Vipers offense in practice but we will work hard to prepare as coaches and players I'm sure.  

Laurie took this photo out of
the Villa Skorpion's front window

It was 9:00 p.m. and it should have been pitch black outside except that we were at the start of Mother Nature's best, longest lasting thunder and lightning storm yet.

Believe us, there have been many of these storms in the last three weeks but nothing as long lasting or powerful as tonight's.

I had left Laurie at the Villa Skorpion to head up to the Bellavita Café, our official Skorpion Team Bar, for our first scheduled Delaware Wing-T defensive team video meeting.

The drive to the Bellavita in the historic core of Varese was intense due to the rain, lightning and thunder.

Or so I thought until the drive home two hours later.

It was POURING outside
the Belavita!

As I looked out the door, I could not believe what I saw.

A family, including a baby in a stroller,
still dining al fresco!

I know that the calendar says May 30th and it is Spring and all but DAMN Mom and Dad, it is POURING!

Reviewing the recent Hogs-Vipers
game tape with the team

It was a good meeting and we got our Wing-T defensive concepts installed and understood I believe, after the usual barrage of questions.

Now to see how well we can execute our game plan, first at practice and then on the game field in Modena.

As for the drive home after the video meeting, the words EPIC, HOMERIC and MIND BOGGLING would all accurately describe the weather/driving conditions as the storm continued to intensify all night long.

It was truly a shame that we were not practicing at Skorpion Field in this very special edition of . . .

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A MUCH Needed Day of Rest

Tuesday, 29 May, 2018

After three incredible days of Saturday night American football, the Palio in Legnano on Sunday and seeing Joe, Mike and Susan at La Garda yesterday, we were definitely in need of a day of rest to recharge our collective batteries.

My plans of breaking down the Modena Vipers game tapes were mostly thwarted first by the loss of wifi at the Villa Skorpion and then, once wifi was restored, HUDL being extremely slow in downloading the Vipers videos.

In took some time but I got enough done in preparation for tonight's first playoff practice.

Great photo of all nine of the
Skorpions U17 and U15 Flag
football players who were recently 
selected for the Italian National Team,
known as Gli Azzurri

Our Skorpions U15 Head Coach, Enzo Petrillo seen here, is also the Head Coach of Gli Azzurri this year.

The evening's U19 practice started with only four players but ended with a whopping seven.

U19 stretching

We'll need to recruit a lot more players for this eventual nine-man team that starts play in September. Many of their players are currently key members of the Skorpions Senior playoff bound team.

We ran a lot of two-on-two
pass routes vs. Man Coverage
with the U19s tonight

For once I skipped the majority of the U17 and U15 Flag practices to get back to the Villa Skorpion and spend another 90 minutes breaking down Modena Vipers videos.

Returning to Skorpion Field, I found a good turnout of Skorpions who are excited about another chance to play football against a high quality opponent.

It was a BEAUTIFUL night
for American football!

An AMAZING Day With Dear Friends at Lake Garda

Monday, 28 May, 2018

Before we start recounting our truly amazing day visiting three of Lake Garda's beautiful cities with three dear friends, let's look at what happened his weekend on the Italian American football front.    

Coach Mike Wood's Milano Seamen
will play Germany's Potsdam Royals
in the EFL tournament final

The Seamen earned their spot in the final a few weeks ago with a rousing 49-3 win over France's traditional powerhouse Phonon Black Panthers.

Yesterday the Potsdam Royals punched their ticket to Milano for the title game by beating Switzerland's Calanda Broncos in a nail biter, 33-31.

Besides the Seamen's EFL tournament successes, they are also a perfect 9-0 in Italy's Division I with one game left in the regular season. They are a full two games ahead of both the Parma Panthers and the Bolzano Giants who are each currently 7-2 on the season.

The Seamen beat the Giants 21-0 back in mid-March and they also clobbered the then undefeated Panthers in late April by a score of 35-13.

The DI playoffs will start the weekend of June 16-17.

Some more photos of our game Saturday night were posted by the media covering the Skorpions . . .

Going over a Special Teams situation
with Christian Munoz

Alessandro Brovelli turning the corner

Omar Passera to . . .

. . . Martino Piazzi . . .

. . . was a phrase said often by the
game's PA announcer Saturday night

The Blue Storms controlled The Pit
for much of our contest

Division II - Week in Review

Week #13 Results
Busto Arsizio Blue Storms (8-0) - 42
Varese Skorpions (5-3) - 27

Varese Gorillas (1-7) - 22
Cagliari Crusaders (1-7) - 6

Palermo Sharks (4-4) - 37
Sant'Agata Knights (1-7) - 25

Reggio Emilia Hogs (7-1) - 35
Sarzana Red Jackets (2-6) - 8

Final 2018 Group C Standings
1. Busto Arsizio Blue Storms 8-0
2. Varese Skorpions 5-3
3T. Cagliari Crusaders 1-7
3T. Varese Gorillas 1-7

Here are the final standings in all six Groups of Division II:

With the regular season now over, it was time to seed the 2018 DII playoffs.

The playoff format is simple enough, the top two teams from each of the six Groups earned a spot in the post-season tournament.

The Italian Federation then seeded all 12 of these remaining clubs. The top four seeds got first round byes.

Those four clubs were the #1 seeded Padova Saints (8-0), the #2 seeded Bologna Warriors (8-0), the #3 seeded BustoArsizio Blue Storms (8-0) and the #4 seeded Reggio Emilia Hogs (7-1).

The remaining eight clubs will play Wild Card games the weekend of June 9-10.

The 2018 DII Playoff Bracket

Wild Card Weekend Playoff Schedule
Saturday, June 9
#10 Varese Skorpions (5-3) at #7 Modena Vipers (6-2)
#9 Palermo Sharks (4-4) at #8 Martesana Daemons (5-3)

Sunday, June 10
#12 Ravenna Chiefs (4-4) at #5 Roma Pretoriani (7-1)
#11 Monza Brianza Hammers (5-3) at #6 Verona Mastini (5-3)

In a somewhat odd Wild Card contest, the Federation's seeding pits the top two clubs from Group B, the #5 Pretoriani and the #12 Chiefs, against each other for the third time this year.

The eight team Quarter-Finals await the four Wild Card winners who will play the top four seeded teams who got byes during the Wild Card weekend.

The Quarter-Finals will be played the weekend of June 16-17 at the homes of the top four seeded clubs.

As for the Skorpions draw in the Wild Card game, here is a look at the Modena Vipers season.

Modena Vipers
Group F - Second Place
6 Wins - 2 Losses

2018 Schedule
47 Sarzana Red Jackets (2-6) - 6
25 Reggio Emilia Hogs (7-1) - 7
13 Brescia Bengals (5-3) - 0
49 Cagliari Crusaders (1-7) - 17
47 Isonzo Sentinels (0-8) - 12
27 Sarzana Red Jackets (2-6) - 20
7 Reggio Emilia Hogs (7-1) - 30
17 Brescia Bengals (5-3) - 34

We have two common opponents with the Vipers, the Sarzana Red Jackets (2-6) and the Cagliari Crusaders (1-7).

While the squad from Modena beat the Red Jackets twice by scores of 47-6 and 27-20, we got hammered by Sarzana losing by a final tally of 44-16.

The Vipers cruised past the Crusaders 49-17 while we beat the men from Cagliari twice by scores of 34-14 and 28-0.

But enough about American football overseas for one blog post, let's talk about our day trip to Lake Garda on a splendid Monday.

We would be meeting three good friends, Joe O'Leary from England and Susan and Michael D'Antuono from Pasadena, California who are vacationing together on the shores of Italy's incredibly beautiful Lake Garda which is Italy's largest lake.

We agreed to meet on the main piazza in the city of Saló located on the southern end of the lake.


Saló has a 200 year old
School of Music

And for good reason we would soon find out.

Saló's MAGNIFICENT setting

Two of Saló's quaint
lake front cottages

Laurie with Saló in the background

Sale city crest in flower form

Gasparo Da Saló
Inventor of the Violin

Since the city is named in his honor, it was now no surprise that the School of Music was 200 years old.

Small water craft, perfect
for a tranquil Lake Garda

Giuseppe Zanardelli

Born in nearby Brescia, he was the Prime Minister of Italy from 1901 to 1903 who championed left wing causes of the day including expanded suffrage, anticlericalism, civil liberties, free trade and divorce.

Saló's mandatory main piazza
WWI and WWII Fallen Memorial

Laurie with Susan D'Antuono after
cappuccinos to start the day

Liberty Style architecture is so
prevalent in the North of Italy

This Saló building housed Benito Mussolini's
Nazi supported, puppet government
from September of 1943 until May of 1945

Officially, it was called the Italian Social Republic.

Unofficially, people called it the Republic of Saló.

Joe O'Leary
ALWAYS a man on the go!

We don't get to see Joe very often but we always leave our meetings with a smile in our hearts from having spent time with a good man.

More of Saló's lake front

One of Saló's little piazzas

Nice clock at perhaps an
old city gate

"In This Sign Conquer"

Not new.

After coffee, saying our hellos, catching up and strolling through beautiful Saló. We were all off to Lake Garda city #2 of the day. This is where our friends were staying for the week and a great spot for lunch they said.

Who were we to argue . . .

Desenzano del Garda

Oh my . . .

Another incredible lakeside village that we both instantly fell in love with, who wouldn't?

First the harbor was offering
wonderful vistas

Then there was the sculpture
in front of the SPLENDID Hotel Mayer

I wonder if it was owned by the same people who owned the GRAND Budapest Hotel?

This would be a great spot for dining!

So we did!

Finally, a picture with our
last vagabond, Mike D'Antuono

Joe loves taking pictures

Who were we to say no?

Swans are a Lake Garda staple

Desenzano del Garda's
old theater


We had time for one more stop on our Lake Garda tour today.


I could just sit here reading a book
and enjoying the view ALL DAY LONG!

Sirmione has this fortress
defending the entrance to its
small peninsula

Besides its incredible beauty, Sirmione is famous for one thing.

It has more gelaterias per square kilometer than any other city in Italy.

Damn the fortress, LET THE INVASION BEGIN!

Of course the fortress moat
had a swan

Michael, an avid reader of this blog, pointed out that I had not entered a chapel, church, basilica or cathedral yet today as he pointed at a small religious building just inside the fortress gate.

I had to go in for Mike's benefit
if nothing else

It was a beautiful little chapel befitting Italy's gelato capital.

I liked the fresco

A little Byzantine art never hurts

Just loved this fortress . . .

. . . with an Italian flag flying
proudly atop it

A family name?

Now about that . . .

. . . GELATO!

It was time to get serious after seeing this tourist's outlandishly HUGE gelato cone.

But which store should we go to, there were indeed so, so many to choose from?

When Susan and Laurie hear the
word "store" they are not thinking
gelato as their first choice

While they shopped for what they love, the boys started gathering gelato samples in order to make an informed decision.

It was just common sense, scientific research after all.

Their limone passed my test

Lots and lots of possibilities

And a friendly staff

Though swayed, we continued to sample at a few other gelaterias in this beautiful village.

Finally we had a winner

The gelato here . . .

. . . was extremely, . . .


I doubt that there is a bad gelato to be found anywhere in Sirmione.

Bad gelato? Is there such a thing?

Digesting our gelato, we strolled
along Sirmione's lakeside

Nice meat and cheese market

Colorful ceramics on sale

Yes, Laurie bought something but only with an eye on supporting the local economy.

The brass looked good

Gelato and ice cream are definitely
NOT the same thing

What a village!

Back outside the fortress
Michael had a hankering
for some lemonade

This a supposedly not posed
photo of our group

We returned to their hotel in Desenzano del Garda for a little bit before bidding a fond adieu to our friends as we still had a two hour drive to get back to the Villa Skorpion.

We made an Autogrill pit stop for
some non-alcoholic beverages
and a restroom break at
about the halfway point

The Autogrill has everything!

Including pasta in the shape of famous Italian monuments.

Pasta for sale in all shapes
and colors

Tempting but I am driving

Tempting but I am driving

The hell with it!
Laurie, you take the wheel!

Her "NO!" response was firm enough to let me know that she will not be driving in Italy any time soon.

What more can we say about this amazing day on Lake Garda with good friends?

Well, one thing, we are now thinking about spending a few days on this very same, beautiful lake before coming home to California.

And YES, being able to eat more gelato in Sirmione is a big factor in our decision making.

Once more, GRAZIE to Joe, Susan and Michael for this fun day!

We'll be back . . .