National Pride

National Pride

For Canada’s young football stars, the biggest game in February isn’t the Super Bowl.

Sherwood Park, Alberta burnished its credentials as a football factory last week when three of its hometown heroes were among the 26 Canadians named to the ‘Team World’ roster. On February 5th the Canadians will be attempting to fend off Team USA and defend their IFAF International Bowl title.

The Team World roster also includes players from Europe, Asia and Australia.

The event, held in Austin, Texas, represents one of the largest gathering of Division I-bound football players in the nation.

In 2012, 52 players signed with 37 different college programs as part of the annual event.

The signings included Canadians Eli Ankou (DE, UCLA), Faith Ekakatie (DL, Iowa), Chris Malumba (LB, Maine) and Tevaun Smith (WR, Iowa).

As Shane Jones reported in the Sherwood Park News, the local teenaged football stars are taking the game, and the national pride that is at stake, very seriously (photo courtesy Football Canada/Shawn Hubbard):

Last year the unthinkable was accomplished as Team World defeated Team USA in the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) U-20 International Bowl.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that the World beat the USA in the International Bowl.

It was the first time that Team USA had ever been defeated in an international (IFAF) competition, and you can bet the sleeping bear is now wide awake and ready to feast for this year’s event.

Three Sherwood Park products will be on Team World to try and pull off another miracle for this year’s big game, taking place on Feb. 5 in Austin, Texas.

Defensive back Rees Paterson, an ABJ Scot grad who now plays Junior football with the Edmonton Huskies, is the lone Park player who actually saw game action last year when Team World upset the States 35-29. Defensive lineman Troy Weissbach was also at that game, but did not suit up as he was a member of the development team.

Weissbach is a starter for the match this time around.

“It feels really good,” said the Bev Facey grad. “It’s nice knowing that I had the experience last year from being part of the development team and seeing what the competition is going to be like. I know a lot of the players on this team and I am very excited that I am going to be playing with them in such a big game. I went down with Rees last year and we both had a blast and came back with a lot of experience. I’m really looking forward to it.”

New to the World squad is yet another Park player, offensive lineman Jordan Filippelli, currently a member of the University of Calgary Dinos.

Having three players from Sherwood Park on the roster that includes 26 Canadians — as well as players from Mexico, Austria, American Samoa, Brazil, The Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, France and Japan — is remarkable . . . . .  It once again illustrates the power of Park football to former Bev Facey Falcons head coach Barclay Spady, who is serving as Team World’s defensive line coach at this year’s International Bowl.

“The development that our local guys go through is tremendous in Sherwood Park,” he said. “You can see it on all of our provincial teams and on the Bantam Bowl teams. When you look at the Junior teams and University teams throughout Canada, there are a high number of Park kids playing. It’s tremendous. Having a local coach to speak to that did help, being able to speak to the quality and the character of these guys and the skills that they bring to the table.”

Of the 26 Canadians, 14 members of the team also helped Canada to a 23-17 victory over Team USA at the 2012 IFAF U-19 World Championship.

Needless to say, with a pair of international losses to atone for, the States should be out for a rasher of revenge this time out.

“The impression that we have gotten in preparation for this year is that the Americans are a little less cordial than they were last year,” Spady said. “The bubble is burst now that we beat them last year and then with Canada winning the U-19 championship in one year. That was a new experience for them. They have sort of doubled their efforts since then in terms of recruiting the best players and holding camps throughout the U.S. We are anticipating a very tough squad to play against and one with a greater focus. I’m really looking forward to it.”

“Yeah, we made them just a bit angry last year,” Weissbach laughed.

“I think they are going to be coming back with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and looking for some revenge. But I think we have a good squad, looking at the players that I know. I think we will put up a good fight. We have put up a good fight for the last three years. I think we’ll be alright.”

The U.S. leads the all-time series for the International Bowl 2-1.

USA Football’s great documentary from the 2011 game can be seen on the International Bowl site

Complete World Team and Team USA rosters are also available