Tychy Falcons QB Gabriel Losada’s unexpected Polish whirlwind ending with title shot

A lot can change over the course of two months, but you don’t have to tell Gabriel Losada that.

Rewind to mid-May and you’d find him pouring shots as a long-haired bartender back in Glendale, Arizona. On Saturday, he’ll be throwing shots against the Bydgoszcz Archers defence as quarterback of the Tychy Falcons with a chance to win the Polish Bowl on the line. The time in between has been nothing short of a whirlwind.

“I was just coaching and working at the bar when I got a message off Europlayers one day,” Losada recalls ahead of the championship game.

“It was from Coach Kolek, the head coach for the Falcons, saying ‘our quarterback just went down, I know this is really short notice, but could you come? And I need your decision in two days because I need you to fly out by Saturday.'”

It was an opportunity that Losada jumped at. He arrived in Poland on May 24 to replace injured starter Jules St. Ge, got two practices under his belt and took to the field the next week against the Warsaw Mets.

Luckily for the Falcons, Losada was no stranger to European football. A junior college quarterback who saw his NCAA shot disappear after a transfer error cost him two seasons, he’d stumbled upon John Grisham’s “Playing for Pizza” completely by accident while poking around the local Good Will. In its pages, he discovered the way to extend his career, joining the Osos Rivas of Spain for a season and winning a French third division title with the Cannes Iron Mask in 2019.

Those experiences made success in Poland easier to come by, but the two months were not without challenges. Though he arrived to replace an injured quarterback, Losada himself was soon confined to the sideline after dislocating his throwing shoulder. He’d suffered the same injury in Spain, tearing his labrum in the process, and for a moment he feared a second injury spelled the end of his football journey.

“After it happened, I thought that was it for the year. Maybe my career. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come back from another rehab,” Losada admits.

Luckily, the MRI came back clean and Losada immediately jumped into preparing for his return. He was back under center for the Polish semi-final two weeks ago, a 34-15 upset victory over the favored Bialystok Lowlanders.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a hundred percent, there’s a couple of throws I wish I could put a little more zip on and get maybe five, 10 more yards on the ball. But when you play quarterback, you’ve got to be a game manager. You’ve got to know what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not capable of doing,” he says.

“I’ve  definitely got to learn to save my body. Sometimes I would stand in and take a hit, now I should probably go down and do a little bit less scrambling, but I feel ready. I can definitely grip it and after playing in that semi-final game, it got me a lot more confident that I can go out there and let it loose.”

With his health intact, all attention is now on the Polish Bowl matchup with the undefeated Archers and a chance to make a little history. Saturday will be the first championship appearance for either club and Losada knows how much a win would mean to his national teammates.

“We have a pretty old team. We probably only have one rookie who’s about 20 years old, so these guys have been around for awhile,” he says, acknowledging that for most it will be their first shot at a title at any level.

“As far as the main group of guys, everyone’s really excited. Everyone is all in, ready to go. We really have no excuses moving forward as to why we can’t put points on the board and stop those guys from scoring. Everyone’s ready. We’re all hands.”

Of course, achieving that goal will mean avenging a 28-14 loss to the Archers earlier this season. Losada is quick to point out that defeat came without the services of Tychy’s star defensive import Laparrish Lewis and with his team playing far from their cleanest game of the season.

“We had a couple of drops, a couple miscues on assignments that hurt us, a couple of penalties that hurt us, but they were more self-inflicted wounds,” he says.

Those errors will hopefully not be repeated and Losada is focused on a simple game plan, one that’s about ball control and game management rather than big plays. After a crazy few months, a chance to end it with a potentially career-defining win means everything to him.

“It’ll definitely be an emotional game for me, playing my first 1st division championship game. I’m really excited,” Losada admits. “We’ll probably have more eyes on us this week, so I just want to go out there and show everybody what I can do.”

Watch the Polish Bowl live on AFI.tv, Saturday, July 17 at 14:00 CET (2 pm, 08:00 am ET).

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.