TEAM USA WINS GOLD MEDAL AT THE IFAF JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 41-3 WIN OVER CANADA
A collection of 45 American teenagers gathered in Canton in the middle of June to complete a mission on the football field.
The mission was to win the 2009 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship, an inaugural tournament being contested at Fawcett Stadium which consisted of players aged 19 and younger from eight countries, spanning four continents.
For USA Football’s Junior National Team, that mission was accomplished Sunday July 5, 2009.
The second-seeded United States defeated top seed Canada 41-3 in the Gold Medal Game before a crowd of 15,473 fans at Fawcett Stadium.
"What you saw here, this was not an all-star team." Team USA coach Chuck Kyle said. "I am going to look you in the eye and tell you until the day I die this is not an all-star team. This was a team that had about a week-and-half to two weeks to get ready for our first game. Kids came from all over America. They came together for the love of the game of football and for the love of their country."
USA Football’s quarterback Bryce Petty, a Baylor recruit, completed all of his pass attempts (14-for-14) and threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
"It has been an amazing experience," said Petty, whose three-game totals in the tournament were 25-for-30, 382 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. "I can’t even put into words what this has been like. I am extremely blessed.
"I have had good practices, but nothing like today. About 12 of those were five-yard hitches and they turned it up field. We have athletes on this team."
David Wilson, a Virginia Tech recruit, who was named tournament MVP, led USA’s rushing attack with 10 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown.
USA didn’t dominate in the capacity it did earlier in the tournament in victories over France (78-0) and Mexico (55-0) as Canada offered some resistance.
"I think they were the only team that tackled David more than twice down to the ground and not just push him out of bounds," Petty said.
America’s team wasted little time opening the scoring following an interception by linebacker and one of four team captains Storm Klein (Ohio State) on the second play from scrimmage. Petty threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jamal Davis (Florida Atlantic) with 11:07 remaining in the first quarter. The point after attempt failed.
"Captain Klein got them going out there and the kids played with great intensity," Kyle said.
Team USA’s lead extended to 8-0 with 9:07 left in the first quarter after Canada took a safety in the end zone.
Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu converted a 38-yard field goal for Canada with 1:34 remaining in the first quarter to make the score 8-3.
"We understood we were going against a Division I (college) football team in the making," Canada coach Glen Constantin said. "There’s no doubt, they are what we are in hockey. It’s a good measuring stick for everyone."
Canadian running back Steven Lumbala, who carried the Canadian flag as the team ran onto the field in pre-game introductions, played a pivotal role on the Canadian drive with impressive runs of 21 and seven yards. The seven-yard dash put Canada on the USA 14-yard line, the first time in the tournament an opponent had penetrated the 20-yard line against the United States.
"They are definitely a good football team," said Lumbala, who finished with 32 yards on 10 carries. "They deserve all the credit they are given."
Team USA’s lead grew with eight seconds left in the first quarter. Petty ran for four yards and then pitched the ball back to Wilson who sprinted 29 yards for a touchdown. Kicker Mike Loftus (SMU) provided the extra point and USA led 15-3.
"Football is America’s sport," said Wilson, who rushed for eight touchdowns and 425 yards on 33 carries in the tournament. "We just wanted to set a standard for the players that come up behind us. This was just wonderful. We did exactly what we expected to do."
Loftus made a 27-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the second quarter that gave USA an 18-3 halftime lead.
"I think the intensity was there, but we had some mental breakdowns, which was unfortunate," Constantin said of his team. "You can’t make mistakes against a great opponent like them."
USA extended its lead to 25-3 with 2:58 left in the third quarter following a 47-yard touchdown pass by Petty to receiver Kevin Cummings (Oregon State) and a Loftus extra point.
"Speaking for the whole team, no one had seen a football team like that," said Canada linebacker Byron Perez-Archambault, who had eight solo tackles and two sacks.
Petty connected with receiver Erik Lora (Eastern Illinois) for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter. A Loftus extra point kick made the score 32-3.
A second Canadian safety with 8:16 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Team USA a 34-3 lead.
Phillip Butterfield (Arkansas State) threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Plasencia (Northwestern) with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter. Loftus made the point after and the score was 41-3. Butterfiled went 11-for-18 for 128 yards.
Zach Cutkomp (Northern Iowa) led the U.S. receivers with five catches for 56 yards. Lora contributed four receptions for 53 yards and Wilson had three catchers for 27 yards.
Left tackle Jack Mewhort (Ohio State), Brian Winters (Kent State), Evan Swindall (Mississippi), Aaron Price (Indiana) and Oday Aboushi (Virginia) formed USA’s starting offensive line, which keyed the Americans to 408 total yards.
"I got to play the game I love for my country," Mewhort said. "This was awesome."
The players for Team USA arrived June 13 and the first practice was conducted June 14.
"This was very special," Kyle said. "This is something I will remember for a long, long time. Medals and trophies, where do they put them? They put them in a trophy case and you hang a medal up somewhere, right? What stays is the memories and the friendships."
David Herman (Holy Cross), Phillip Thomas (Syracuse) and Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse) led USA’s defense with three solo tackles each.
Robert Bell (Toledo), Prestin Brown (Texas State), Chris Norman (Michigan State), Corey Lillard (Virginia), Tariq Edwards (Virginia Tech) and Jordan Poyer (Oregon State) were also key defensively. Norman led Team USA onto the field carrying the American flag.
"It’s been an amazing experience to play the game I love for my country," Klein said.
Canadian linebacker Jean-Philippe Bolduc had five solo tackles.
The 12-game tournament drew a total attendance of 40,043, a tournament record for 12-year-old IFAF.
JAPAN TAKES THE BRONZE AT THE 2009 IFAF JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN AERIAL BATTLE WITH MEXICO
Mexico and Japan brought similar offensive styles to the 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship Bronze Medal game at Fawcett Stadium.
Spread the field and let it fly.
Passing plays accumulated for nearly 88 percent of the offense as the two teams traded possession passes and an occasional long-ranged bomb.
In the end though, it was Japan who proved to be the third-best team in the tournament, passing by Mexico, 42-27.
It was a big win for Japan, who placed itself among the elite football squads in North America by beating Mexico and nearly defeating Canada on Wednesday.
"I see this going a long ways in the future," Team Japan coach Takao Yamazaki said through a translator. "Canada and the United State and Mexico are always in our target and someday we would like to climb up. Today is bronze (but we) would like to go higher than that."
Within the first minute of the game, Team Japan quarterback Yuichiro Araki found receiver Shoma Endo for a 44-yard touchdown pass. A few minutes later Araki hit Jumpei Yoshimoto for a five-yard touchdown pass to push the score to 14-0.
Mexico quarterback Roberto Isaias Vega refused to be outdone though. With about three minutes remaining in the quarter, Vega zipped a pass deep down the middle of the field and into the hands of Jose Carlos Lozano. Sixty-four yards later Team Mexico trailed 14-7.
Before the first quarter could end though, Araki found a streaking Yoshimoto. With the ball in the air Yoshimoto split – and outran – two defenders on his way to a 53-yard touchdown reception to give Japan a 14-point lead again.
"Japan is a very successful team," Team Mexico coach Ernesto Alfaro del Villar said. "All the time they are looking for spaces, for holes. They create those holes. We knew that, but they didn’t commit mistakes."
By the end of the first quarter, before Japan was able to distance itself, the two teams had combined for 239 passing yards and four touchdowns, all coming via the pass; compared to just 17 rushing yards.
Araki would add touchdown passes of 35 yards and 10 yards as well, finding Yoshimoto again on the latter. Araki finished the game with 354 yards through the air and five touchdowns on 26 of 37 passing (70.3 pct.).
"When I was high school and playing for a high school team I wasn’t really throwing a lot," Araki said through a translator. "So today I threw a lot of passes. It was fun."
More than half of Araki’s touchdown passes went to Yoshimoto who finished with nine catches for 112 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the game with an arm injury in the fourth quarter.
Vega was just as impressive as he threw for 366 yards on 24-41 passing with three passing touchdowns. He ran for another. Jose Carlos Lozano had five catches for 124 yards and one touchdown.
"Facing a quarter back like Japan’s quarterback is fun," Vega said through a translator. "It is good to have this kind of match."
ALL-TOURNAMENT FIRST AND SECOND TEAMS ANNOUNCED
The 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship All-Tournament first and second teams have been announced following the Gold Medal game that was played at Fawcett Stadium adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The selections were made based on a combination of votes cast by the head coaches of the eight competing teams and the tournament statistics.
Japan head coach Takao Yamazaki was named the All Tournament Team head coach having guided his team to a Bronze Medal and a 2-1 finish and Japan was also honored with the Fair Play Team award.
USA running back David Wilson, who rushed for a combined 425 yards and 8 touchdowns during the course of three games, was named the tournament Most Valuable Player as he helped the United States win the Gold Medal game.
The United States led the way with 14 first team all-tournament selections, followed by Germany with five, Canada with three and Japan with two, including quarterback Yuichiro Arakai, who threw for 686 yards and nine touchdowns and only one interception during the course of three games.
ALL-TOURNAMENT FIRST TEAM
QB YUICHIRO ARAKI, JAPAN
RB DAVID WILSON, USA
RB STEVEN LUMBALA, CAN
TE JOHN PLASENCIA, USA
WR JUMPEI YOSHIMOTO, JAPAN
WR JULIAN BAILEY, CANADA
OL ODAY ABUSHI, USA
OL JACK MEWHORT, USA
OL EVAN SWINDALL, USA
OL AARON PRICE, USA
OL KIRBY FABIEN, CANADA
DL LUKAS MULLER, GERMANY
DL PESTIN BROWN, USA
DL CHRIS HENDERSON, USA
DL BJÖRN WERNER, GERMANY
LB STORM KLEIN, USA
LB CHRIS NORMAN, USA
LB ALEXANDER BORGS, GERMANY
DB SHAMARKO THOMAS, USA
DB MARK NZECHO, GERMANY
DB COREY LILLARD, USA
DB JORDAN POYER, USA
K/P MIKE LOFTUS, USA
PR/KR NIKO LESTER, GERMANY
ALL-TOURNAMENT SECOND TEAM
QB BRYCE PETTY, USA
RB RANDALL PAYNE, GERMANY
RB HAMPUS HELLEMARK, SWEDEN
TE LOAN TEMMING, GERMANY
WR JUAN CARLOS MAYA, MEXICO
WR SHOMA ENDO, JAPAN
OL CARSON ROCKHILL, CANADA
OL DANNY GROULX, CANADA
OL BRIAN WINTERS, USA
OL ALEXANDER ODERBERGER, GERMANY
OL HIROSHI ITO, JAPAN
DL JAKE THOMAS, CANADA
DL TYLER DIPPEL, USA
DL YOSHIAKI FUJII, JAPAN
DL MARTIN SOHLBERG, SWEDEN
LB MEHDI ABDESMAD, CANADA
LB TARIQ EDWARDS, USA
LB BYRON PEREZ-ARCHAMBAULT, CANADA
DB DOCTOR CASSAMA, SWE
DB YUDAI MARUMARA, JAPAN
DB CHRIS PAYNE, USA
DB JEAN-PHILIPPE BOLDUC, CANADA
K/P LIRIM HAJRULLAHU, CANADA
PR/KR ERIK LORA, USA