Guelfi Firenze pull off upset win over Milano Seamen to win first ever Italian Bowl

The Firenze Guelfi have beaten the Milano Seamen 21-17 and hoisted the Italian Bowl trophy for the first time in Florence’s football history.

Their victory was the culmination of a season-long crusade that saw both highs and lows. Their season-opening loss to the Parma Panthers saw a team unsure of their identity. But the arrival of head coach Art Briles in week 2 turned things around.

The Guelfi has utilized misdirection and dynamism at the quarterback position to put the ball in playmakers hands over and over again, causing mismatches and fresh legs.

Leading from the front has been Briles and Italian quarterback Andrea Fimiani. But it has been far more than that. It has been a collective effort from the likes of Jared Gerbino, Ahmed Tanner, Andrea Constanzi, Cosimo Casati, Dayan Almeida, Dijon Lynch and many more.

Firenze RB Jared Gerbino was the game’s leading rusher Photo: CUBO Photo

This was demonstrated nowhere more than the Italian Bowl. A team used to averaging 40+ points per game, the Seamen were held to just 17. Scheme and the Italian core of Guelfi’s defense played a true bend-but-don’t-break style of play. 

Guelfi has been known for its savage rushing attack this season, averaging over 300 yards on the ground a game – annihilating the league’s rushing record. But in the final, they had just half of that.

The final was instead a war of attrition for each side’s defense. Two of the most explosive offenses in the league were unable to get any real momentum, despite the Seamen having 340 total yards.

Firenze DB Andrea Constanzi knocking down a pass Photo: CUBO Photo

The first score came midway through the first quarter off of a 36-yard field goal following a 56-yard drive from the Seamen. This slow start from both sides was not the one fans were expecting considering the two sides’ portfolio of work this year.

However, as quick as the two referees raised their arms for the field goal, running back Cosimo Casati returned the ensuing kickoff for a 96-yard touchdown to inject a boost of energy into the Guelfi.

Despite another scoring drive from the Seamen and their first touchdown in the second quarter, Guelfi always appeared to be the team in control. And just before the half, with the score sitting at 10-7 to the Seamen, Jared Gerbino reeled in a 17-yard pass from Andrea Fimiani to take the Guelfi up 14-10.

As the two teams came out of the locker room they again tightened up on defense, offering very little until the end of the third when Seamen quarterback Luke Zahradka strung together an 88-yard drive, capping it himself with a two-yard run.

With the Seamen now up 17-14, you could feel Guelfi tighten up. But it never felt out of reach for them with such an impressive array of weapons at their disposal. And all weaponry was utilized at the beginning of the fourth with a 16-play, 80-yard, six-minute, touchdown-scoring drive that sucked the life out of the Seamen’s defense.

Milano WR Juan Flores hauling in a TD pass Photo: CUBO

Despite two more chances for the Seamen, the Guelfi defense stood up with an interception from Ryan Lonzar on the first drive and a turnover on downs on the second. The game ended with another life-sapping, five-minute drive from the Guelfi with Jared Gerbino picking up first down after first down.

This win for Guelfi, the first national championship in the city of Florence’s history, will mean a great deal for the players, fans, and the city. For Guelfi, it was a season defined by adversity. It will be a win that the city of Florence remembers and celebrates for a long time.

Andrea Fimiani comments on his team’s victory:

“Being a champion feels unreal. All the sacrifices made since 2008 when I first started playing football, it all makes sense now. The season was a tough one because of all the injuries, but the playoffs gave us the chance to prove we are the best team in the country. The Italian Bowl made it clear, we are the best FAMILY in the country.”

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.