2019 FOOTBALL CANADA CUP PREVIEW – ALBERTA
By Ameeta Vohra
After the dramatic heartbreak the team faced at last year’s Football Canada Cup on home turf, Alberta is determined and motivated to win gold.
One of the significant changes is that Darcy Park has moved up into the head coaching position after guiding Alberta’s under-16 team to back-to-back gold medals at the Western Challenge (2017 & 2018). Park comes with a wealth of experience as he led the under-16 national team at the 2018 International Bowl and has been part of the Edmonton Wildcats organization that competes in the Prairie Football Conference (PFC) of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) since 1999. Previously, Park was Special Teams Coordinator, Running Backs as well as Defensive Line Coach during his tenure with the team. After taking over Assistant Head Coaching duties in 2008, he became Head Coach of the Wildcats in 2011.
As a player, Park played for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders. Moreover, he suited up for the CIS’ Alberta Golden Bears. While he was with JUCO team, New Mexico Military Institute, Park was selected as an All-American Honorable Mention in 1993.
Offensively, Alberta has a 1-2 punch when it comes to depth at the quarterback position. Anton Amundrud returns back after a solid performance at last year’s Football Canada Cup while Eli Hetlinger was Park’s quarterback on the provincial under-16 team at the 2017 Western Challenge and also represented Canada at the 2018 International Bowl. Hetlinger is an athletic passer who excels at quickly releasing the ball and his accuracy has left opposing defences scrambling to find a way to stop his rhythm. The quarterback will be a challenge because of his unique ability to make off-balance passes.
The main targets will be the receiving core led by Sony Burmudez-Chavez and Kolby Hurford as they will use their speed to make big plays. Expected to garner a lot of attention from recruiters is offensive lineman Albert Reese.
Returning linebacker Kosta Zannis highlights Alberta’s defense and he is projected to put forth another remarkable performance at the Football Canada Cup, building from the momentum of what he accomplished last year in Calgary. After his breakout at the 2017 Under-16 Western Challenge, defensive back Charlie DeLand joins Park in the move to the under-18 squad. During his young career, he has earned the reputation of being a shut-down cornerback.
2018 RESULT: lost to Saskatchewan 31-26 in gold medal game and claimed silver in the tournament
HEAD COACH: Darcy Park – first year as head coach, led Alberta’s under-16 to back-to-back gold medal victories at Western Challenge (2017, 2018)
2019 GAME DAY 1 – will square off against seventh seeded New Brunswick on July 7, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. EST
NUMBER OF RETURNING PLAYERS: 3
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
|Eli Hetlinger||QB||Harry Ainlay|
|Sonny Bermudez-Chavez||REC||Harry Ainlay|
|*Kosta Zannis||LB||Crescent Heights|
|Charlie DeLand||DB||St. Francis|
This post is also available in: French