IFL Week 2: Milano Rhinos and Ancona Dolphins open season with landslide wins

Week 2 in the Italian Football League (IFL) saw six of the nine teams in the league open up their 2023 season. The Milano Rhinos and Ancona Dolphins put on dominant performances with victories of 20+ and will now be eyeing the Italian Bowl set to take place in Toledo, Ohio on July 1.

Milano Rhinos 30 – Verona Mastini 6

The Rhinos have not found much success in the IFL over the last few years, often placing near bottom. But with the departure of their crosstown rival, the Milano Seamen, to the European League of Football, they will now feel confident in recapturing some of the success they had in 2016 and 2017.

After a relatively slow start in the mountainous Bolzano, the Rhinos quarterback and Elon University (NCAA, DI) alumnus Joey Baughman put together an 83-yard drive over nine plays to get the Rhinos their first score of the season by way of former NFL and CFL Tight End, Trey Brock.

It was in the second quarter that the Rhinos found their top gear. Following a 44-yard touchdown bomb from Baughman to Italian wideout Pietro Elmi, the Rhinos were able to pin the Mastini deep in their own territory and force a safety. On the ensuing kick-off, National Team wideout Simone Boni scored on a 79-yard touchdown return to take the Rhinos up 23-0 going in at the half. 

Mastini and Davidson College (NCAA, DI) alumnus Louis Colosimo managed to get a score on the board in the fourth quarter, but their inability to deal with the ruthless efficiency of Baughman (10-16, 206 yards and three touchdowns) and Brock (four receptions, 100 yards and two touchdowns) left them reeling.

Ancona Dolphins 40 – Legnano Frogs 6

May be an image of 6 people and people playing football

The Dolphins have been flirting with the top teams in the IFL since quarterback Collin Di Galbo came to Ancona in 2021. Their opening performance in week 2, albeit against a newly promoted team, appears to show that the Dolphins may have finally gotten over the hump.

Di Galbo offered an impressive mix of pass (20-32-1, 223 yards and two touchdowns) and run throughout the game, punching in Ancona’s first two touchdowns on the ground. Di Galbo was backed up by a typically stout Dolphins defense who managed to pick off Frogs quarterback Eystin Salum three times, running one back for a touchdown, and give their offense short fields to work with.

Another fantastic addition to the Dolphins roster has been Linebacker Vincent Winey who played his college football at Morehead State earning himself All-Conference honors. In his European debut, Winey reeled in three receptions for 54 yards and two touchdowns; and led the team with 11.5 tackles and 3.5 TFL.

Lazio Ducks 31 – Emilia Stainless Steel Warriors 21

May be an image of 6 people, people playing football, people standing and grass

The final game of the weekend saw the recently merged Emilia Stainless Steel Warriors (formerly Bologna Warriors and Viper Modena) take on the Lazio Ducks in what turned out to be a comeback victory for the Ducks.

Former SMU (NCAA, DI) quarterback Derek Green got the Warriors on the board twice in quick succession following a 60-yard drive, a Ducks’ fumble, and another quick score to take his team up 14-0.

The two sides jostled back and forth after this until late in the second where Ducks quarterback Austin Albericci and former Rutgers (NCAA, DI) quarterback began to show his pedigree. Albericci took the next three touchdowns of the game with a mix of run and pass to take the Ducks into the lead 14–20 going into the fourth quarter.

But at the beginning of the fourth, Green managed to cap off a 62-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to young Italian wideout Emanuele Ghitotti, giving the Warriors a one-point lead. 

Following a negligible drive by the Ducks, Green was again on the drive with the Warriors before he threw a costly interception to defensive back Eduardo Nati. And on the ensuing play, Albericci threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Curtiss to seal the victory for the Ducks.

Albericci earned FIDAF’s MVP for week 2 with 215 yards and three touchdowns through the air and 140 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.