The rejuvenated Firenze Guelfi will play host to the 1-0 Parma Panthers in their opening game of the 2019 season in Italy’s Div. I Saturday March 16.
The Guelfi are entering the season with a completely new look and attitude.
New head coach Art Briles (Baylor University) wasted no time signing two former players Silas Nacita and Lnyx Hawthorne. Nacita had a spectacular season with the Marburg Mercenaries in the German Football League in 2018. He led the league in all-purpose yards averaging 192.6 per game. He rushed for 808 yards and 10 TDs, passed for 811 yards and 12 TDs, caught 65 passes for 1,005 yards and 15 TDs, returned 10 punts for 140 yards and a TD, returned 28 kickoffs for 743 yards and punted 44 times for 682 yards (38.2 yard average). Hawthorne was All Big 12 while at Baylor. Steve Franco (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) rounds out the trio of imports brought in by Briles. The versatile safety earned All-PSAC West honors from his free safety spot. He started all 12 games in his senior year, including once at strong safety, and finished second on the team with 65 total tackles and 36 solo stops. He picked off three passes, returning one 50 yards for a touchdown.
Parma won their first game of the year last week, beating the Ancona Dolphins 14-10. New quarterback Reilly Hennessey (Central Washington) is replacing Tommaso Monardi, who was the starter for the Panthers for eight years helping the team win four titles. The 6’3″, 200 lb Hennessey threw for a modest 138 yards on 11 for 16 passing in his first action. In fact, it was the Panthers running game that made the difference as RB Alessandro Malpeli Aval rushed for 99 yards, scoring both touchdowns for Parma.
The Panthers are always a very solid team but they will be facing arguably the most versatile running back/receiver in Europe in Nacita.
This one is a toss up.