Firenze Guelfi HC Art Briles enjoying every moment in Italy, looking forward to Italian Bowl

Firenze Guelfi head coach Art Briles is coaching in his very first European championship game when his team takes on the defending champion Milano Seamen in the Italian Bowl this Saturday, July 6  at Stadio Breda in Sesto San Giovanni, located in Milan.

Art Briles took over as the head coach of the Guelfi for the 2019 season and promptly changed the mindset of a team that had been mired in the lower echelons of Italy’s top division in its three years in the league.

When he was introduced as the new Firenze head coach in late 2018, his first words threw them off completely:

“”I told them we would win the championship in 2019.  They all wondered what kind of coach had been hired. But to me, if you don’t plant the seed, it can never grow. That’s when I started sowing the seeds of winning.”

As he explained on the Firenze Guelfi website:

“If you don’t believe you can never achieve, so I think without a question starting back in the fall we started talking about playing for the championship and winning the championship. This to the players back then was like saying Santa Claus was real, you can hardly believe it. So, that’s where it all started. Then after you have a couple of good things happen to you and win a couple of games people didn’t think you could win, then that belief becomes a reality and then you just ride the momentum from there. And that’s what we’ve done all season, we rode the momentum. The two games we haven’t won have been the last play of the game deciding it, so we’ve proven throughout the season we’re a really good football team. The two best teams are in the championship”.

After the Guelfi knocked off perennial contenders, the Parma Panthers, in the very first game of the year, people began to believe.

Now, Briles is one game away from making his prediction come true.

American Football International: You are on the doorstep of winning an Italian title in your first year. But you have to go through the Milano Seamen who beat you earlier this year. How do you prepare?

Briles: First, we stop thinking about that game we lost. That game was early in the season and we are a different team now. We have a much better understanding how things work for us. We are much better than we were then in my mind.

AFI: What is your first step?

Briles: Our philosophy is to find a way to create and edge. We have to find a way to create turnovers, to steal possessions. In a 48 minute game, you don’t have a lot of chances on offense so you find a way to get more.

AFI: You have a couple of great playmakers like Silas Nacita and Lnyx  Hawthorne.

Briles: Of course, we like to find ways to get the ball into the hands of our key players, like Silas and Lynx. But the rest of the team has really stepped up their game. I am really happy with how they have grown and developed.

AFI: Milano has been here before a few times. How much of a difference does that make?

Briles: They have a tremendous organization and team. I have so much respect for them and what they have accomplished and how they have helped grow the game in Italy. Playing them in the final will be a lot of fund.

AFI: Milano has one of the best quarterbacks in Europe in Luke Zahradka. How do you disrupt him?

Briles: Well, he is a great quarterback but we have to keep him from being in positions to hurt us. We can’t make mistakes and take penalties that give them good field position. We have to know when and where to pressure him. He has a lot of weapons and we have to neutralize them too.

AFI: Special teams are important to you.

Briles: Yes, we can use the kicking game to give us an edge. We do have a few things up our sleeves.

AFI: How has the experience of coaching in Europe and in Italy been for you?

Briles:I have enjoyed every single moment here.  I cannot thank the people of the Firenze Guelfi organization and of the city of Florence enough. This experience has been incredible and unforgettable. I have almost no words to describe how it feels to be welcomed so warmly. The players and coaches have been amazing. So knowledgeable.



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