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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – Three weeks into the DODDS-Europe Division II football season and it’s much too early to figure out which team is the best of the southern half. But the Vicenza Cougars have made it very clear which team is the best in Italy. Vicenza dominated all aspects of its game Friday with the Aviano Saints, scoring seven touchdowns before halftime en route to a 48-8 victory. The win, coupled with a 34-6 rout of Naples on Sept. 7, leaves the Cougars at 2-0. That’s more wins than the school achieved in the last three years – combined. “We’ve got some guys who want to play football this year,” coach Kurt York said. It doesn’t hurt that the school’s population has surged with elements of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) moving south of the Alps. Vicenza’s only slightly smaller than Naples in terms of population. And almost twice as big as Aviano. If that sounds like a potential mismatch, it was. Derek Grice got the scoring started with a 19-yard run early in the first quarter. Ethan Fullmer then added a 3-yard score, with Adrian Guerrero adding the first of six extra-point kicks. A 23-yard run from Jerome Farmer made it 20-0 at the end of a quarter. Farmer would score three more times in the second quarter on short runs and the rout was on. Even the few positives for the Saints quickly turned into negatives. After failing to connect with an Aviano receiver on his first 10 passes, quarterback Mike Trujillo finally registered a completion. But his receiver took three steps before being drilled and fumbled the ball. Randall Bagtas scooped it up and ran 37 yards for a touchdown. “The one positive I saw tonight was the kids saw that if we don’t play error-free football, we can’t compete,” Aviano coach Rick Dahlstrom said. Aviano, limited to 70 yards of offense in the first half, got on the scoreboard on the last play of the third quarter when Trujillo connected with Daniel Dinges for a 41-yard touchdown. Te’Kevin Boston’s conversion run accounted for the game’s final two points. The score might have been even more lopsided, but the Cougars also came out on top in penalties. Vicenza was flagged 16 times for 112 yards to Aviano’s 12 for 62. The Cougars host Schweinfurt/Bamberg next weekend, while Aviano travels to play Ansbach.Harris.kent@stripes.com

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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