Italian Bowl XLI: Milano Seamen vs Firenze Guelfi – A contrast in styles

The Stadio Dall’ara in Bologna, Italy will be rocking Saturday, July 2 when the first place Milano Seamen take on the third place Firenze Guelfi for the Italian Football League’s (IFL) national championship.

The Seamen defeated the Ancona Dolphins in one semifinal while Firenze downed the Parma Panthers in the other.

These two diametrically opposed offensive monsters have dominated scoreboards and opponents all season.

Firenze Guelfi started the season with a loss to defending champions Parma Panthers, but quickly found their rhythm following the arrival of head coach Art Briles in week 2.

Since then, Guelfi has imposed a ruthless and dynamic rushing attack to pick apart opponents. This three-headed beast consists of Italian quarterback Andrea Fimiani and running backs Jared Gerbino and Ahmed Tanner.

The trio have combined for an unbelievable total of 2,515 yards and 31 touchdowns, breaking the IFL record by a country mile. 

This offense hinges on three great athletes utilizing misdirection and unorthodoxy to cause havoc on the opposition.

Guelfi’s first encounter with the Seamen ended in a 56-47 loss. The score was less representative of the game as Milano pulled away early and were up 41-28 at the half. But the second half was indicative of the high-powered offense that Guelfi possesses.

On the other side of the ball stands a Seamen offense of equal caliber. Their prowess, however, lies within their aerial dominance. 

Quarterback Luke Zahradka, now in his fifth season with the Seamen, is having the performance of a lifetime. He has thrown for 2,427 yards and 35 touchdowns. The most impressive aspect of this stat line is that he has done it on just 129 completions and four interceptions.

His success is in part due to the signing of IFL first-year receiver Markell Castle who is averaging 134 yards per game – most of which he never finishes due to the Seamen steamrolling opponents.

With this in mind, the game will undoubtedly be decided by defense. This is where the Seamen have the upper hand. 

Milano’s defense ranks first in nearly every category in the league (pass defense belonging to Ancona Dolphins), whereas the Guelfi ranks nearly dead last. 

If the Guelfi wish to hoist the city’s first ever national championship title, this is where they need to perform. Their offense has shown that it can put up big numbers against the Seamen, their defense just needs to get one or two takeaways to turn the tide in their favor.

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.