Italy: Modena Vipers slither up league table in week 8, Seamen, Guelfi continue winning, Rhinos end losing streak

With just three rounds to go in the Italian Football League regular season, the Milano Seamen and Firenze Guelfi remain the front runners but the Modena Vipers, newcomers to the top division, are making their way up the standings and now occupy third in the nine team league.

The Seamen had no trouble downing the Ancona Dolphins in Milano while Firenze won a shootout in Rome, beating the Lazio Ducks. The Modena Vipers continue to surprise winning their third straight game, defeating the Bologna Warriors while the Milano Rhinos captured their first victory of the year turning away the Verona Mastini, in Verona.

Milano Seamen (5-0) 35 – Ancona Dolphins (3-3) 13

Photo: Dario Fumagalli

The opening game in week 8 saw the Ancona Dolphins fall to the Milano Seamen in a contest that produced over 570 yards passing.

The Dolphins opened up the scoring with a one-yard rush from Di Galbo followed by his only passing touchdown in the game during the second quarter. It remained a one score contest until the fourth quarter when a rushing touchdown and fumble scoop-and-score took the game well out of the hands of the Dolphins.

Ancona quarterback Colin Di Galbo spent the entire game in the pocket, attempting a staggering 57 passes with 0 interceptions. Despite throwing for 326 yards, the young Italian American was unable to convert this into points. This lack of scoring was aided by a Seamen’s defense that was able to sack him eight times.

Seamen quarterback Luke Zahradka had another great outing but was challenged by a stubborn Dolphins defense. His usually dominant form felt hard earned this week as he leaned on the other facets of the team to secure the victory.

Modena Vipers (3-1) 24 – Bologna Warriors (1-5) 10

Photo: Inna Berezanskaya

With the Warriors quarterback Gabriel Cousinea still absent, Bologna relied heavily on running back Shakif Seymore this week as he took time at quarterback. Seymore was able to gash the Vipers defense in the first quarter and secure the game’s first score in the dying minutes of the opening period.

Seymore racked up 150 yards rushing and 80 yards passing through the course of the contest, but much like the earlier game was unable to his offensive output into touchdowns. As the Vipers defense constricted Seymore, Modena quarterback Danny Vanatsky went to work.

Ex-Seamen receiver Stefano Di Tunisi proved to be a favorite target of Vanatsky again this week, totaling 131 yards and two touchdowns in their 24-10 victory over the Warriors. This will be the outcome the team hoped for as they host the Milano Seamen next week.

Milano Rhinos (1-4) 31 – Mastini Verona (1-4) 23 

Photo: Nicola Vivian

The second half of contests in the IFL began with the two teams possibly fighting for relegation this year, the Mastini Verona and Milano Rhinos.

A serious lack of offensive production all season has now led to the insertion of Bryan Hayes, Mastini’s import defensive back, at the wildcat quarterback position. Hayes, being a top-class athlete, was able to rack up over 100 yards rushing but struggled through the air, throwing for just 13 yards on four attempts.

This did not prevent the game being a relatively high scoring one, however. A few breakout plays and a kick-return for a touchdown by Mastini kept them hanging with the Rhinos until the end.

Ultimately, the scrappy play by Verona was not enough to overcome the Rhinos as quarterback Daniel Santacaterin (Northern Illinois) kept the scoreboard ticking over with his consistent play, ending the game with 187 yards and three touchdowns.

Lazio Ducks (2-4) 42 – Firenze Guelfi (5-1) 52

The final game of week 8 saw two of the most exciting teams in the league battle it out in a war of attrition. Both teams have shown fearless offensive play from week 1, and this contest lived up to the hype.

The Guelfi made full use of their trademark rushing attack, despite missing a key component, Ahmad Tanner. Andrea Fimiani and Jared Gerbino were able to combine for over 260 yards on the ground, but more impressively utilized a passing game too, something missing in recent weeks.

On the other side of the ball quarterback Calvin Stitt has his most impressive game of the year. Known almost exclusively as a dual threat quarterback, Stitt this week put his arm on show. He threw with precision and poise, using his legs only when necessary, finishing the game with 324 yards and five touchdowns.

Each team was able to consistently drive the full length of the field to pick up scores, proving the quality of each offense. But it was ultimately a lack of points in the first half from the Ducks that let the Guelfi jump ahead one score for a lead they were able to keep for the remainder of the game.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He played for the London Warriors for 15 years as well as Team Great Britain .