Coming into the IFAF Junior Championships, there was a feeling around the US team that their two seed was not a reflection of reality. On Sunday afternoon against the top-seeded Canadians, they overwhelmingly proved that case.
Soon to be Buckeye legend (we're sure of this) Storm Klein intercepted a pass on the second play of the game, returning it 16 yards to the Canada 17 and one play later the good guys we're up six. From there, it only got worse. Future Baylor Bear Bryce Petty went 14 for 14 for 190 yards and three touchdowns and tourney MVP David Wilson added another rushing touchdown on the way to a 41-3 victory.
The win capped a dominating run out of Team USA. The defense was stingy, allowing just the three points to Canada and Chuck Kyle's team actually racked up more penalty yards than his defense allowed over the course of the three games.
So football-crazy Canton got a rare summer fix, a couple of Buckeyes got additional reps and game experience and we all got some trash-talking ammo to use on our fine Canadian friends (Michiganders count here as well). Though it's noteworthy today, I'm excited for what the future might hold in international American football.
There's just something about international competition and cheering on the United States. It's a big reason why I like international footy, but have no real interest in the MLS. Beat Spain and take delight in the fact that there are Spaniards too distraught to actually go to work the next day. Does it make you want to see the US soccer team hammer Mexico any harder next month at Azteca when you consider that just three years after 9/11, some Mexican fans chanted "Osama, Osama" during a match with the United States? Exactly.
The players certainly get something out of it as well. They were given a chance to represent their country and responded with a gold medal in an international competition. Laugh at Team France all you want, but do you have a gold medal? In anything?
Speaking of talent gaps, it wasn't too long ago that the Dream Team was light years ahead of the competition on the hardcourt. A little over fifteen years later and we were in such a spot that we needed the Redeem Team to restore some pride in that sport. The rest of the world will close the gap, which will only make it better.
The NFL is doing its part. The league is going back to Wembley in late October1 and the Bills play a game in Toronto each season. There's even talk that if the league does expand to 17 games, the extra game will be played outside the United States.
Though there are certain financial concerns that may keep elite American players out of the IFAF's senior circuit2, the United States should embrace the junior national team and more top coaches need to follow Jim Tressel and Frank Beamer's lead by sending their incoming freshman off to play in these events.
2012 will be here before we know it.
This is definitely the year we're going to use them. Maybe. Ken Gordon wrote one of those pieces that manages to both anger and excite you with an update of Jake Stoneburner's progress at tight end.
On one hand, we get the news that Stoneburner's 6-5 frame has filled out to 243, instantly conjuring Winslow and Keller comparisons. There's even the quote or two about how many balls the tight ends were thrown during spring practice. But, facts are facts and they say that Nicol and Ballard combined for just 11 receptions last year and not since 2003 has a Buckeye tight end caught more than 16 passes.
1 Bill Belichick will not be honoring the dress code. The Brits, incidentally, are bonkers for Yank football. The Beckhamization of Tom Brady is coming soon.
2 Or the pros -- responsible for FIFA's World Cup in soccer -- and any type of football equivalent.