Playoff seeding cemented in penultimate weekend of Italian Football League

With only one game remaining in the Italian Football League’s regular season, all six playoff spots have now been cemented.

The Bologna Warriors reached the playoffs for the first time in seven years after beating the Lazio Ducks while the Parma Panthers were pushed but still downed the last place Verona Mastini. Finally, the Modena Vipers were no match for Italian title contenders the Firenze Guelfi. 

Bologna Warriors (3-5) 28 – Lazio Ducks (3-5) 21

For the Warriors and the Ducks, the final game of their season would be a monumental one. The winner would snatch a playoff berth.

Since the Warriors lost Canadian-Italian quarterback Gabriel Cousineau they have relied heavily on former Toledo running back Shakif Seymour. And he didn’t disappoint this week as he hammered the Lazio defense play after play ending with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns while throwing for 130 and another two scores.

With the Bologna offense being built almost exclusively with a nine-man box, little was left to guess work. But despite this, his ability as a one-cut downhill runner allowed him to pick up chunks of yardage at a time.

The occasional deep ball kept the Ducks on their toes, but with a wet, muddy field, the game was perfectly suited to the bullish ground game of the Warriors.

Seymour finished the game with 310 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, two of which were thrown on just eight completions.

With this colossal underdog win, the Warriors will now travel to Florence to take on an imposing Guelfi squad for their first playoff appearance since 2015.

Parma Panthers (6-2) 13 – Mastini Verona (1-6) 0

Parma LB Dauson Dales #42 Photo: Luigi Felisa

The second-place playoff spot was secured with Parma’s win over the Mastini this weekend.  With the win, the Panthers earned a first-round bye.

The game was heavily in Parma’s favor, so much so that they rested starting quarterback Brook Bolles and Italian stud receiver Simone Alinovi. Another unusual face seen at running back was import linebacker Dauson Dales who previously manned the position during their last game.

Without Bolles leading the charge, Dales took command of the offense. Despite low yardage offensively and a heavy rush attack from Verona, the Panthers looked like they were in control from the first snap. 

Dales punched in the only touchdown of the game and kicker Matteo Felli kicked through a 33-yard and 47-yard field goal to cement Parma’s position as number two seed in the playoffs.

Firenze Guelfi (6-2) 35 – Modena Vipers (3-5) 6

The final game of the week meant little in the way of playoff implications after the Panthers and Warriors each won their games. Modena had already secured the fifth seed, and the Guelfi had the third going into the game.

Regardless of the standings though, both teams played all their starters but put on two very different performances.

From the get-go, Guelfi applied their trademark rushing attack, gashing the Vipers for chunks of yardage over and over again. By halftime Firenze were up 28-0.

The Vipers were able to pick up a last-minute score to make the scoreline appear slightly more respectable, but after giving up over 300 yards on the ground, the game was anything but that.

The Vipers will travel to Ancona for their wild card contest against the Dolphins in two weeks’ time. If they hope to stand a chance against arguably the best secondary in the league, quarterback Danny Vanatsky will need to do better than the 14 yards passing he put up in this game. It’s a stat line he would rather forget from this past weekend’s game against the Guelfi.

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.