2017 North American Championship: U18 preview
Photo credit: USA Football
Football Canada’s under-18 national team enters the inaugural North American Championship game riding a four-game winning streak, including a pair of victories at the 2016 International Bowl series.
They’ll take on their U.S. counterparts at 5:30 p.m. (ET) at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. The game can be seen live online for those in Canada by visiting www.footballcanada.com on game day. ESPN3 will also broadcasting the game live.
As in past years, the roster is selected from participants from the under-18 national tackle football championship, the Football Canada Cup. The all-stars selected from the tournament which in previous years served as the U18 team now make up the majority of Canada’s under-19 national team.
The under-18 national team arrived in Orlando on Monday with only five days to prepare for one game.
“What we’ve been telling the guys is that they’ve got to be sharp mentally because that’s going to be the difference,” said head coach, Marco Iadeluca. “When you’ve only got five days of preparation it’s all about assignments and trying to control what you can control and then make plays on game day.”
“We’re really happy with what we’ve gotten from the kids. They’re working hard, they’re focused and ready to go. What we’ve asked is for them to be all-in for one week and so far, the response has been great.”
The group is made up of players and coaches from seven provinces which had never been together before this week.
“It’s always a neat experience when you get to coach kids that you don’t regularly have a chance to see or meet. That’s what we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to gel as a team. We’re telling them to enjoy the moment and to live the experience fully.”
“We’re also trying to incorporate some group activities for the guys to get together and get to know each other. It’s a quick week, there’s a lot of work involved, but I believe that you also need to have fun while you’re doing it.”
Helping guide Canada’s U18 national team is an experienced coaching staff. They must not only prepare the team in a short amount of time but also help players transition from three to four down football.
Canada returns defensive coordinator Paul-Eddy Saint-Vilien from last year’s team while offensive coordinator Steve Snyder served the same role in 2015. Offensive line coach Chris Hopkins also returns for his third-straight year with the under-18 national team while special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach Rob Underhill returns for his second go-round with the U18 program.
“It’s a huge advantage for us,” said Iadeluca of the experienced U18 coaching staff. “It’s important that our coordinators have a good understanding of the different rules because it is a different game, playing four-down football.”
On Saturday, the under-18 national team will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play together for Canada as they open the inaugural North American Championship in Orlando.
Players to watch
- Andreas Dueck, QB
- Connor Ross, FB
- Tailbacks (RBs):
- Adam Bennett
- Grégoire Martin
- Tadi Siwira
- Evens Passée-Coutrin
- Will Marchand
- Noah Johns
- Dillon Zimmerman, DB
- Brody Williams, LB
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