New Quarterback Luke Zahradka Ready to Lead GLS Ancona Dolphins

Although he has only been in Italy for a short time, we have already had a good look at Luke Zahradka, the new quarterback hired by GLS Ancona Dolphins of the Italian Football League.

Zahradka, 24, (197 cm, 106 kg) hails from New York and attended Bentley University (NCAA Div. II). He has spent the past two seasons in Europe, first with the Kirchdorf Wildcats (Germany), and then a year in France with Amiens Spartiates. He’s had a great European record leading his teams for a total in Europe of 16 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie.

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Luke Zahradka with the Amiens Spartiates

As for stats, in Germany he started mid-season with eight games played (6-2), with 48 rushes for 217 yards, (4.5 yards/carry)  and 5 TDs. In the air he threw went 154/266 (58%) with 2,214 yards and 25 TDs, 4 INTs.

In France, in 12 games played (10-1-1), he rushed 61 time for 396 yards (6.5 yards/carry) with 5 TDs, passed 199/316 attempts (63%) with 3,388 yards and 49 TDs, with 9 INTs.

The top league of American football in Italy will begin in March.

Quick Q&A with the new quarterback of Ancona.

Q: Since your recent arrival in Italy, what impact has the Italian culture, particularly Ancona, had on you?

I grew up in a family of Italian origin, so for me it was an easy transition. I’ve been to Italy four times before, for several weeks, so I was already familiar, besides all the people I met so far have been extremely welcoming. It’s “beautiful country” and Ancona, in particular, is very beautiful with the sea and the beautiful old town. In addition, I have uncles in Pescara and will visit them, in addition to visiting the rest of Italy.

Q: As for the team? What is your impression?

Playing for the Dolphins is like a dream come true, especially in a city as beautiful as Ancona! The Dolphins are a historical organization of Italian football, are well organized and share my own objectives. The coaches and teammates are all extremely helpful and I’m excited to know them individually. I can not wait to build lasting friendships. I think our coaching staff is extremely knowledgeable and we have a young team with a lot of talent, so I know we will have a beautiful vintage.

2015 Dolphins

Luke Zahradka, Dan Levy, Nic Harris

 Q: Have you formed any opinions on the IFL?

Only from what I’ve seen in the films that I’m studying, I feel that there is a strong competition in the IFL with several strong teams, so we have to focus on preparing for the matches to be in a position to win, one step at a time.

Q: What are your goals for next season?

1947509_727568777295467_1622268658_nI will be trivial, but the ultimate goal is the Super Bowl. It would be the best birthday present, since I was born on the same day in which they will compete in the Super Bowl 2015, the 4th of July! But it is very far away, so we will take it a game at a time.

Another goal is to help spread the knowledge I have of the game of football, to my teammates, to the environment and to boys in schools. Do you know that I arrived on Friday evening and Monday morning I was already in high schools to encourage teenagers to play football with fellow instructors Mattia Dal Monte, Luca Stoppoloni, Gabriele Dancers and others.

Q: A little about you, what were your first steps in football, your interests, your passions?

I grew up playing football, from the age of 5, so for me is a lifestyle. I found a new interest in travel when I came to Europe to play football. My dream is to be able to assert my skills in America and maybe one day play in the CFL, and get a chance in the NFL is, honestly, too.

Q: What is your favorite team in the United States and do you have any comments on the Super Bowl?

My favorite team is the New York Jets, even if they have had several bad seasons, then I like the New Orleans Saints because of Drew Brees. The Super Bowl was a great game, but as a Jets fan I am sorry that New England won. I would have preferred Seattle!

Q:  A final message?

I cannot wait to get started. Looking forward to meeting the fans of Ancona and spend the next six months in Italy to do what I love, play football! Go Dolphins!

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.