With only three games remaining in the regular season, the Bolzano Giants (6-1) look to claim undisputed possession of second place in Italy’s Division I Sunday when they play host to the Parma Panthers (6-1) Sunday, May 21, in Stadio Europa in a picturesque setting in the middle of the Italian Alps in Bolzano.
The two teams, located only three hours apart in northern Italy have been on a collision course all season. The only thing separating them in the standings right now is a slight points differential. The Giants who are second, have scored 189 points and surrendered 77 (+112) while the third place Panthers numbers are 194 points for and 95 against (+99).
Bolzano has the best defense in Italy. The only loss for both teams was to the league-leading Milan Rhinos and they both lost by similar scores. The Giants were beaten 20-13 and Parma by a score of 23-15.
The Panthers are coming off a huge 17-14 overtime win over the Milano Rhinos last week while Bolzano dominated Ancona 32-13.
Bolzano quarterback Dustin Hawke Willingham is the second leading passer in the Italian Football League having thrown for 1,922 yards and 23 touchdowns. Parma’s Tommasso Monardi is fifth on the list with his 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Giants two leading receivers, Mark Simone and Marco Bonacci, are the second and third leading pass catchers while Parma running back Alessandro Malpeli Avalli is fifth in rushing.
In other words, this could very well be a “battle royale”.
Bolzano head coach Argeo Tisma is aware of the importance of this game:
“We have to avoid distractions and mistakes against Parma,. This is an opponent who can punish us at the very first mistake. I’m convinced that the players are aware of this and so I’m optimistic about this game. If we can overcome the Panthers we would take an important leap towards second place and thus towards a direct berth in the semifinals.”