Spain’s Valencia Firebats sign veteran QB Justin Sottilare

In a step to return to power in Spain following a dismal season in 2017, the Valencia Firebats have signed quarterback Justin Sottilare for the 2018 season.

The Firebats, who last won the Spanish crown in 2015, suffered through a 4-6 season in 2017, barely scraping into the playoffs where they were eliminated by the Reus Imperials.

The 6’3″, 200 lb Sottilare from Columbia, Maryland, was a two-year starter at Wesley College (NCAA Div. III) before signing with the Franken Knights in the German Football League in 2014 where he threw for 4,857 yards and 52 touchdowns. He then spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons leading the Senaijoki Crocodiles in Finland to back-to-back appearances in Finland’s Maple Bowl, finishing the regular season on top of the league both years. He returned to the championship final in 2017 with the Wasa Royals. He led the Finnish league in passing in 2017 throwing for 3,188 yards and 34 touchdowns and was among the passing leaders for all three years in Finland.

The Valencia Firebats spoke to Justin about his background and his reasons for exploring a new league and country

Valencia Firebats: How would you describe yourself as a quarterback?

Justin Sottilare: Almost until the last year I considered a classic pocket passer, but now and after being on different teams in Europe I think I’m already a better threat running. It’s one aspect of my game that I’ve tried to work on, and I’m sure I’m still going to get much better with the passage of time.

Firebats:  Why did you choose to come to Valencia to play with the Firebats this coming season? What do you expect from your experience in the LNFA Serie A?

Sottilare: After signing in Finland, I told myself that the next team would be in an amazing city with great weather. Valencia is a perfect destination for me, and I honestly cannot wait to get there. Every year, except one, that I have played outside of the United States, I have been in the title fight, so now I hope to continue in that dynamic. I understand better the sacrifice that comes with being a champion, and I am still in the process of finding out about it completely, but I am completely dedicated to being successful in life both on and off the field.

Firebats: What will you bring to the Valencia Firebats?

Sottilare: I think that my desire to learn is going to be the biggest contribution to the team. My degree is in teaching, and that’s why I love learning about those things that I love. American football is a game of intelligence as well as tenacity, and be sure that I will give the best of myself to make sure that everyone knows their role within the team.

Firebats: What do you know about the level of American football played in Spain?

Sottilare: I have had conversations with many teams in Spain, also with some players who have been here, and everything I have heard about the country has been magnificent. I hope that this league and its talent continues to grow, and that one day it will be so important that foreigners like me can live all year in this beautiful country.

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Source: Valencia Firebats

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