Milano Seamen HC Michael Wood wary heading into Italian Bowl against Firenze Guelfi

As the Milano Seamen get prepared to play in their third straight Italian Bowl, and sixth since 2013, when they face the surprising Firenze Guelfi, head coach Michael Wood is wary.

“We may be the favorites but we are facing a very good football team, coached by Art Briles, one of the most imaginative minds in football. You just never know. This game will be a chess match and it may come down to whoever has the last adjustment.”

Wood’s Seamen finished the season with a 7-1 record and easily disposed of the Lazio Ducks 38-0 in the semifinal. During the regular season. Milano beat the Guelfi 34-28 on a last second touchdown.

Firenze Guelfi wound up third during the regular season in Italy’s Div. 1 and then defeated the Torino Giaguari 31-14 in the wild card round and downed the Bolzano Giants 42-39 in the semifinals.

American Football International talked to Coach Wood about preparing for a championship game and getting ready for the Guelfi.

AFI: What do you do different after winning the first game against Firenze?

Wood: You have to be prepared for anything when you are playing against Art Briles. You just never know. He can throw everything at you and he always has something up his sleeve. You could see the Lonesome Polecat,  the Swinging Gate, and a ton of other quirky formations.

AFI: Silas Nacita had an outstanding season for Firenze and against you the last time accounted for four touchdowns. How do you defend against him?

Wood: Well, there is no question Silas is an incredible football player and so versatile. We can try to have a “spy” on him, have one player keep track of him all the time, or try to double team him. The only problem is they have so many other weapons like Lynx Hawthorne who is also outstanding. Coach Briles will no doubt try to take advantage of us if we pay too much attention to Nacita.

AFI: What surprises will you face do you think?

Wood: Coach Briles does so many things formation wise and they are always looking to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers, Nacita and Hawthorne. If you focus too much on one guy, you have to suddenly worry about the other one. They could surprise us with anything.

AFI: How will you attack their defense?

Wood: I think their defense will have to play a great game to beat us. We’re healthy and we’re fast. When Luke [Seamen QB Luke Zahradka] is slinging the ball like he is, we’re tough. We have so many weapons like Xavier Mitchell and Stefano Di Tunisi.

AFI: Special teams could be a factor in this game. 

Wood: Yes, obviously the kicking game will be a key. Coach Briles will no doubt have a few surprises and will try to pull a couple of fast ones on us. We have to be ready for that as well.

AFI: Who could be the “joker” in this game?

Wood: For them, with so much attention on Nacita and Hawthorne, we can’t forget a few of their other players. Giacona Bonanno,#88, can hurt you. He is so talented and we have to keep an eye on him. For us, French linebacker Arnaud Mboutch, #22, scored on a fumble in the semifinal and could definitely step up.

AFI: Any final thoughts?

Wood: I’m really looking forward to this game. Matching wits with Art Briles and is team will be something to enjoy.


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