Battle of unbeatens in Italy as Milano Rhinos travel to face Parma Panthers

The 1-0 Milano Rhinos are headed down the highway to Parma in northern Italy to take on the multiple Italian champions Parma Panthers (1-0) Saturday in a game that two years ago would have been a predictable Panthers victory.

This year the story has changed.

The Milano Rhinos are defending Italian champions are on a 14 game winning streak stretching back to the beginning of the 2016 season. It might be said that the Rhinos are on a roll. They downed the Ancona Dolphins easily last week 33-7.

Rhinos QB TJ Pryor escaping pressure against Ancona last week. Photo: Carola CFS

The Panthers, who squeaked by newcomers Pesaro UTA 3-0 last week, advanced to the Italian semifinals in 2016 and were eliminated by the Bolzano Giants after a string of six straight appearances in the Italian championship game and four titles.

In the only meeting between the two teams in 2016, the Rhinos won 56-47 in a game that was fun for everyone but the defensive coordinators of both squads.

Rhinos head coach Chris Ault has his team playing solid football early in the season. Quarterback TJ Pryor is in fine form and already in sync it seems with his receivers. Import running back Nick Ricciardulli always causes problems for defenses.

Parma QB Tommasso Monardi sprints outside UTA’s defense last week

The Panthers are looking forward to the debut of linebacker Tony Bell who did not play against Pesaro a week ago. Veteran Italian quarterback Tommasso Monardi will be behind center with new wide receiver 6’6″, 245 lb Kris Durham (formerly with the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks)  to throw to.

This should be an interesting matchup. Parma has a dominant home record over the past six years but will be facing a Rhinos team bent on remaining unbeaten.

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