Football players from six different nations will take part in the eleventh annual NFL Global Junior Championship at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale beginning on Wednesday, January 31st. The event is part of the Super Bowl XLI celebrations, and will see in excess of 200 young football players from Canada, France, Japan, Mexico, Panama and of course the host nation United States (made up of players from the host state of Florida).
Canada are the defending world champions; in fact, they have won the last two world championships. They will be led by the 2006 Peter Gorman Trophy winner and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Rookie of the Year, quarterback Dalin Tollestrup. Tollestrup had a great inaugural season with the Calgary Dinosaurs (CIS) last year, and this will be a great opportunity for him to showcase his talent on a stage considerably larger than CIS football.
Tollestrup heads up a rather large Western Canadian contingency. Fellow Calgary Dinos running back Anthony Woodson and offensive lineman Dylan Steenbergen also got the call to represent Canada, and Dinos Head Coach Blake Nill is on the coaching staff. Joining the three CIS players are high school standouts Duncan Hankinson (Salisbury, Sherwood Park, AB.), and Anthony Parker (Foothills Composite, Okotoks, AB.). Coach Nill stated that “This is the first time since the tournament inception that we have had a large contingent from Western Canada and Calgary. In the future I hope we can add to this to make this a true representation of the best Under 19 talent in the country.”
One of Tollestrup’s main targets is likely to be Francois Bruno. Not to be confused with the British heavyweight boxer, Bruno beat up cornerbacks for Vanier College all year long in the Bol D’Or. Bruno’s 52 catches for 967 yards were a school record, and signified that he had indeed fought all the way back from a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma just three years ago. “If you work hard, give 100 per cent on the field, there is no reason why you can’t accomplish anything in life,” said Bruno. That drive and maturity might be what prompted Canadian coaches to name Bruno the team captain.
Bruno is joined on the Canadian under-19 squad by fellow Vanier College Cheetahs Ameet Pall (defensive end), Sammy Lavaud (linebacker), and Matt Norman (offensive lineman). All four players had a hand in Vanier College’s first Bol d’Or championship in 15 years. Pall was also named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year after posting 14 sacks.
First year head coach Glen Constantin has assembled young Canadians from across the country to make this run at a third consecutive title for Canada. While no program has more representatives than the four players that Vanier College sent, Champlain College also sent four players: defensive lineman Marc-Antoine L-Fortin, defensive backs Harrison Maloney and Dominique Noel, and linebacker Frédéric Plesius.
There are other schools with multiple particpants. Vieux-Montreal have three representatives in wide receiver Julian Feoli-Gudino, and defensive backs Olivier Fréchette and Nicolas Arseneault-Hum. St-Mark High School is sending two defensive linemen in Scott Fournier and Scott Mitchell, and the Niagara Spears sent defensive back James Savoie and linebacker John Surla. For a complete list of the entire Canadian roster, click here.
The Canadian program and coach Constantin have also put together an impressive coaching staff that includes former Hamilton Tiger Cats coach and soon to be head coach of the Western Mustangs Greg Marshall. Marshall will act as the offensive line coach. Rounding out the staff are Justin Ethier (Offensive Coordinator), Warren Craney (Defensive Coordinator), Stephan Ptaszek (Receivers), Marco Ladeluca (Running Backs), Blake Nill (Linebackers), Marc Santerre (Defensive Backs), Randy Fournier (Defensive Line), Pat Tracey (Special Teams), Jean-Charles Meffe (Technical Director), Jacques Robillard (Equipment), Dwayne Mandrusiak (Équipment), Ryan McInness (Physio), Marc Nadeau (Doctor), Pierre Deschamps (Camera), Rémi Abboussouan (Web), and Johanne Grondin ( Admin Support).
Players arriving in South Florida this week were billeted with host families from local schools. All six teams met at the Fort Lauderdale War Memorial Auditorium on Monday evening to kick off the festivities. The preliminary round games to determine the finalists will be from noon to 10 p.m. on January 31. The championship final will be on Saturday February 3 at 3 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Football fans interested in the championships can follow along at the official NFL Global Junior Championship XI site at www.NFL-GJC.com. The site will feature game recaps, statistics, news updates, photos and for the second consecutive year, official game webcasts thanks to EZStream.com. You will also find team rosters, the official schedule, event history, daily blogs and more.
The preliminary round games to determine the finalists will be from noon to 10 p.m. on January 31. The championship final will be on Saturday February 3 at 3 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
NFL Global Junior Championship Schedule
Monday, January 29 and Tuesday, January 30
Teams practice at local high schools:
Canada 9am-11am at Cardinal Gibbons High School
France 9.30am-11.30am at Pine Crest School
Japan 9.30am-11.30am at North Broward Prep
Mexico 8.30am-10.30am at Western High School
Panama 9.30am-11.30am at University School
USA 4.15pm-6pm at Chaminade Madonna Preparatory School
Tuesday only for Team USA
Monday, January 29
NFL GJCXI Press Conference and Welcome Banquet
Fort Lauderdale War Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday January 31
First Round Games, Lockhart Stadium
National Conference Stadium
Canada, Japan, France
USA, Mexico, Panama
12pm Japan vs. France
1.45pm France vs. Canada
3.30pm Canada vs. Japan
5.30pm Mexico vs. Panama
7.15pm Panama vs. USA
9.00pm USA vs. Mexico
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway