Italy kicks off 2021 season

The Italian Federation of American Football, FIDAF (Federazione Italiana di American Football) kicks off the Division 1 season this weekend after having canceled the entire season in 2020.

The 2020 season was about to kick off March 21, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the country, forcing the season to be first postponed and then canceled altogether.

A total of seven teams will compete for the Italian title including defending champions the Milano Seamen, Ancona Dolphins, Lazio Ducks, Firenze Guelfi, Parma Panthers , Milano Rhinos, and the Bologna Warriors.

The regular season winds up May 22 and the top four teams advance to the playoffs, scheduled for July 4. The Italian Bowl will be played on July 17 at a venue as yet to be determined.

Initially, the games will be played without spectators but that could possibly change as the season progresses depending on the COVID-19 situation at the time. The FIDAF has signed an agreement with the Federlab Italia for the supply, use, analysis and reporting of nasopharyngeal swabs. used in the testing for COVID-19.

The Milano Seamen are the defending champions after winning the 2019 title, defeating the Firenze Guelfi 62-28 in the championship game.

Milano Seamen (2019: 1st place, 7-1 regular season, Italian champions)

Head coach: Michael Wood

Key new players: DB Jay Elder ( West Chester University), OL Stefan Drecun (Serbian, Swarco Raiders, Frankfurt Universe, Koc Rams, Vukovi Belgrade), NFL K Giorgio Tavecchio (49ers, Raiders, Packers, Lions, Falcons, Titans), LB Rayan Khefif (France, La Courneuve Flash, New Mexico Military Institute), RB William Petrone (Team Italy, transfer from Bolzano)

Key returning players: QB: Luke Zahradka, RB Pietro Stillitano, DL Lorenzo Dalle Piagge, DB Marco Aletti

Firenze Guelfi (2019: 3rd place, 6-2 regular season, reached Italian final)

Head coach: Steve Hagen (1st year; 40 years coaching D1 NCAA as OC, coached with Cleveland Browns and New York Jets)

Key new players: DB Max Redfield (USA), RB Gerard Johnson (Norfolk State, Gothenburg Marvels, Kuopio Steelers), QB Andrea Fimiani (Italy. Bergamo Lions), DL Lorenzo Chiusi (Italy).

Key returning players: DB Manuel Masi (Italy), RB Quelly Sousa (Italy)

Parma Panthers (2019: 4th place, 6-2 regular season, reached semifinals)

Head coach: Marc Mattioli

Key new players: QB Reilly Hennessy (Central Washington), Asantay Brown (Western Michigan, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Renegades, XFL), TE Nick Diaco (Colgate University)

Key returning players: WR Simone Alinovi (Italy), DB Alex Erioldi (Italy)

Lazio Ducks (2019: 5th place, 5-3 regular season, reached semifinals)

Head coach: Dan Pippin

Key new players: QB Luke Casey (West Virginia Wesleyan), WR Matt Hazel (Coastal Carolina, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns), LB Valentin Roesch (France, Thonon Black Panthers)

Side note: Dan Pippin was Matt Hazel’s high school coach.

Key returning players: DB Eugenio Mannato (Italy), WR Paolo Biancalana (Italy), RB Matteo Arco (Italy)

Ancona Dolphins (2019: 7th place, 2-6, Did not make playoffs)

Head coach: Roberto Rotelli

Key new players: QB Collin Digalbo (Kutztown University), DB Zac Quattrone (University of Washington/Jefferson), LB Hugo Dyrendahl (Team Sweden, STU Northside Bulls, Sweden)

Key returning players: WR: Mejdi Soltana (Italy), DL Michele Luciani (Italy)

Bologna Warriors (2019: 8th place, 1-7 regular season, Did not make playoffs)

Head coach: Giorgio Longhi

Key new players: QB Nick Rooney (Adams State), DB Tyler Castillo (Colgate University)

Key returning players: H-Back Maxim Berezan (Italy), DL Andrea Nadalini (Italy)

Milano Rhinos (2019: Promoted from Div. 2)

Head coach: Matteo Piccoli

Key new players: WR: Jason-Matthew Sharsh (Hawaii), DB Amir Kilan (Team France, La Courneuve Flash, Seinajoki Crocodiles, Finland), QB Giovanni Rescigno (Rutgers)

Key returning players: WR Pietro Elmi (Italy), LB Andrea Basso (Italy)

Watch the games from Italy live on AFI.tv.

Graphics: Igor Lazarevic

AFI
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