IFL: Firenze Guelfi and Milano Seamen advance to Italian Bowl

The Firenze Guelfi and Milano Seamen have advanced to the Italian Bowl following their victories in the Italian Football League semi-finals this past weekend.

Firenze Guelfi 19 – Parma Panthers 14

Firenze Guelfi RB Ahmad Tanner finding running room Photo: Fabio Cubo

After the Firenze Guelfi’s week-1 loss to the defending champion Panthers this season, they have been waiting for redemption. And they got just that as both teams played their best defensive game of the year.

Firenze, known for racking up 300 plus rushing yards per game, barely broke half of that. Quarterback Andrea Fimiani was contained for most of the game, allowing Jared Gerbino to do most of the heavy lifting on the ground.

But it was Fimiani’s arm that secured the first two scores of the game with an 18-yarder to Ahmed Tanner and a 22-yarder to Gerbino.

Parma quarterback Brook Bolles was able to claw some of the points back with a late first-half touchdown, but the Panthers offense struggled all game to get any semblance of a passing game going.

Parma Panthers offense lined up with QB Brook Bolles about to take a snap Photo: Fabio Cubo

The second half saw more of Gerbino and an eventual 32-yard rushing touchdown to bring the score to 19-7 coming into the fourth quarter.

Bolles, proving an effective runner most of the season, tried to match Firenze’s style of play, but it proved unsuccessful as it was what the Guelfi defense was used to seeing in practice all week long.

A final touchdown by the Panthers in the fourth quarter brought the score to within one. But it was too little too late for Parma as the Guelfi used their final drive to run the clock out and send themselves to the Italian Bowl after a three-year absence.

Milano Seamen 41 – Ancona Dolphins 21

Milano Seamen WR Markell Castle hauling in one of his 10 catches. Photo: Dario Fumagalli

The second and final semifinal of the weekend saw the undefeated Milano Seamen dominate the Ancona Dolphins when it counted to come away with the 41-21 win and reach the Italian Bowl for the eighth time since 2013.

Ancona, sporting the league’s number one pass defense, were in good stead coming into the game as their defensive strengths matched up well against the Seamen’s offense. Ancona’s chances of victory therefore hinged on the play of their offense and quarterback Colin Di Galbo.

But it was in fact the Dolphins defense that looked to be the weaker component of the team. Seamen quarterback Luke Zahradka tore the Ancona secondary to pieces, throwing for 344 yards and six touchdowns on just 22 completions.

As expected, Markell Castle played the biggest role for the Seamen’s receiving corps, racking up 132 yards and three touchdowns.

The Seamen will now go to Bologna to face off against the Firenze Guelfi in what should be an exhilarating game; two teams at the very extreme end of offensive production but utilizing markedly different techniques to achieve it.

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.