Coach Kyle is warmed up and ready to go; here are the answers to some of your most-asked IFAF questions
Posted on 6/15/09 at 7:45 p.m.
By Eddie Dwyer
As we discussed on June 3 at “The Corner,’’ as some of Saint Ignatius’ athletes like to refer to this page, Wildcats head football coach Chuck Kyle '69 will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday night’s 7:05 Indians-Milwaukee Brewers game at Progressive Field.
The ceremonial first pitch is part of the festivities for the IFAF Junior World Championship, which will take place June 27 to July 5 at Canton’s legendary Fawcett Stadium.
Coach Kyle will lead Team USA in an international football competition that features the world’s eight best 19-and-under junior national teams - USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, France, Germany, Sweden and New Zealand.
Team USA, which features several outstanding players from the high school graduating class of 2009, including Wildcats All-Ohio safety Pat Hinkel, will face France in a first-round game on June 27. The kickoff at Fawcett Stadium will be 8 p.m.
If successful against France, the USA will take on the winner of Mexico vs. Sweden on July 1 at 7 p.m. The Bronze Medal Game is scheduled for July 4 at 7 p.m., and the Gold Medal Game is slated for July 5 at 1 p.m. Fox College Sports will air live broadcasts of the Bronze Medal and Gold Medal games.
Tickets will be available at the gates for all of the IFAF games, but more ticket information can be obtained at www.JWCfootball.com.
France is led by quarterback Maxime Sprauel, the youngest signal-caller at the domestic senior level in France while playing for the Thonon les Bains Black Panthers in the French Alps, near the Swiss border.
Along with the tournament schedule and television and ticket information, Saint Ignatius fans and other football-savvy fans around Cleveland have inquired as to why Canada garnered the No.1 seed over Team USA, which is making its debut in the international competition. Here is a news-release response from IFAF President Tommy Wiking.
“On behalf of IFAF and the more than 50 countries on five continents that love and play organized football, we are ecstatic to have the world's best compete in the world's greatest football setting,” Wiking said of Fawcett Stadium, which is adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and recently unveiled its new state-of-the-art press box. “We felt that Canada's exceptional record in international junior competition during recent years warranted the top seed.’’
Canada's junior national team has won the past three NFL Global Junior Championships, held during Super Bowl week from 1997 to 2007, and was also the Global Champion in 2000.
This corner will be heading to Walsh University for practice later this week and will file an update for Saint Ignatius fans and others who follow friends and relatives on the Wildcats’ athletic website.
Meanwhile, here are some numbers to chew on, courtesy of the IFAF and the Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
2009 IFAF Junior World Championship - By The Numbers.
8 – nations represented at the IFAF Junior World Championship
4 – continents represented in Fawcett Stadium
360 – football players aged 19 and under who will take part in the tournament
80 – football coaches from eight nations
32 – football officials calling IFAF Junior World Championship action
15 – countries represented by IFAF Junior World Championship game officials
12 – games played to determine IFAF’s first Junior World Champion
1,500 – team family members and guests expected to visit Canton
50 – television production and media personnel in attendance
$4,475,000 – IFAF Junior World Championship’s economic impact on Northeast Ohio
Coach Kyle and Team USA make a lasting impression, on and off the field; the USA, striving for a gold medal, plays its role as the host team with class and character
Story posted 6/18/09 at 11:54 p.m.
Congratulations to Coach Kyle on his Hall of Fame induction; Chris Spielman to speak to Team USA; another local tie at the IFAF Junior World Championship (posted on 6/19/09).
By Eddie Dwyer
Copyright, June 2009
North Canton, Ohio – A group of little kids from a Canton-area school chanted: “USA, USA, USA!’’
The little admirers watched with eyes wide open and awe-struck facial impressions as they took in part of Team USA’s Thursday morning practice on the campus of Walsh University.
In many ways, these children represented the feelings of everyone in attendance, feelings of pride that sometimes we’re all guilty of keeping inside.
Simply put, Coach Chuck Kyle’s players brought out the little kid in all of us as they displayed the size, strength and skill that will hopefully lead the way to a gold medal in the IFAF Junior World Championship. Team USA is comprised of several outstanding student athletes-major college recruits from the high school graduating class of 2009.
Coach Kyle ’69, the man who has guided his alma mater, Saint Ignatius High School, to an Ohio-record 10 Division I state championships and three national titles, is currently serving as the perfect ambassador for his country and the sport of football.
In the words of Steve Alic, USA Football’s Director of Communications, “He is just so genuine.’’
And that genuine approach came to the fore time and again during Thursday’s double-session practices.
Team USA, which is making its debut in a 19-and-under international competition that includes teams from France, Mexico, Sweden, Japan, Germany, New Zealand and Canada, has a responsibility, said Coach Kyle, that goes way beyond the gridiron.
“Sweden is going to pull in here at 10:30 tonight (Thursday),’’ said Coach Kyle, as his players were greeting their little admirers and signing autographs after the morning practice. “And it would be very easy for us to all stay in our dorms (at Walsh University). I am going to say, ‘Look, at 10:30, we’re going to go out there and say hi to them.’
“Chris Merritt (Team USA defensive backfield coach) knows how to say hello in Swedish. The kids told him, you better make sure,’’ Kyle said, laughing about Merritt’s bilingual talents. “And so we’re going to just break the ice. We’re going to socialize together and practice together (on Monday afternoon).
"You picture those guys coming off the bus and saying, ‘Wow, I’m in a different country,’'' continued Kyle. "You know one small step for mankind and those feelings. So maybe we can make it an easier step by saying, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ It’s something I would like to do when all of the teams come in here.’’
Sweden and Team USA will play their first-round games on June 27 at Canton’s legendary Fawcett Stadium, the site for the entire Junior World Championship. Sweden faces Mexico at 4 p.m. and the United States takes on France at 8 p.m. The winners will meet in a second-round game on July 1 at 7 p.m.
The Bronze Medal Game is scheduled for July 4 at 7 p.m., and the Gold Medal Game will take place on July 5 at 1 p.m. Fox College Sports will televise both the Bronze and Gold Medal games.
Team Canada, which has a history of global-tournament success, is the No. 1 seed and will face New Zealand in the opening round on June 27 at 10 a.m. The United States is seeded second, followed by Mexico, Japan, Germany, Sweden, France and New Zealand.
“This is not an all-star game,’’ Coach Kyle said, with that firm, determined expression this corner has seen for nearly three decades. “Sure, we’re going to be rotating guys in because we have to stay fresh. We have a lot of games in three or four days.
“But what is kind of the important thing is that these kids don’t have to showcase their talents to get a college scholarship. That’s already done. Self-interest stuff really has been put in the back seat here. This is, hey, you get a chance to play for your country. That’s the issue here.’’
ONE OF THE GREATEST WILL SHARE HIS EXPERIENCES AND ADVICE: Chris Spielman, who played the game of football with a passion and a standard of excellence all players should try to emulate, will speak to Team USA on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Barrette Center on the campus of Walsh University.
Spielman, who is currently an analyst for ESPN's coverage of NCAA football, was an All-American linebacker/running back at Massillon Washington High School, an All-Big Ten and All-American linebacker at The Ohio State University and an All-Pro linebacker in the National Football League. He was recently elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Chris was such a legend during his high school days in Massillon that he was featured on the cover of the Wheaties cereal box.
This corner has said it before and will say it again - Chris Spielman was the greatest defensive player at his position in the history of Ohio high school football. A couple of Saint Ignatius linebackers - Scott McVey '10 and John Kerr '02 are in that same mold.
IN HIS ELEMENT: Saint Ignatius All-Ohio safety Pat Hinkel, a Miami (Ohio) recruit and a key member of Team USA’s defense, said “I love it,’’ when asked about the practices that officially started on June 14.
“All of the coaches are great,’’ Hinkel continued. “They bring a bunch of energy to practice and are always yelling in a positive way, getting us pumped up. Our energy is pretty good right now. I think everybody’s getting the grasp of the offense and defense and fitting into their position pretty well.
“I love this, hanging around players from all over the country and meeting new guys. Our offensive and defensive lines are just huge. It kind of reminds me of Glenville.’’
MASS ATTACK: Assisting Coach Kyle and his USA staff as volunteer coaches are Wildcats defensive secondary coach Bryan Massinen ’98 and his brother, John ’03, a graduate assistant at John Carroll University.
Coach Kyle revealed that “Coach Mass,’’ as Bryan Massinen is known to the Saint Ignatius players, and his brother helped implement and install the Team USA offensive and defensive schemes onto a Madden video game. So now, as Coach Kyle emphasized, the players can play a game they love and be learning the offense and defense at the same time.
“It’s been an awesome experience, working with kids and coaches from all over the country,’’ Bryan Massinen said. “You have Coach (Steve) Specht, the defensive coordinator for Team USA. He’s an incredible coach. I can see why (Cincinnati St. Xavier) has been so successful. I’m picking his brain and stealing stuff from him, too.
“When Mr. Kyle was named the head coach, it was like, man, I want to try to be a part of this,’’ Coach Mass continued. "I bugged him for about five months. Every month I said, ‘Hey coach, I’m coming down (to Canton) and helping out.'''
REMEMBER THE NAMES: Among the many impressive players on Team USA’s 45-man roster are Danville (VA) George Washington High School running back David Wilson, a Virginia Tech recruit, and South Charleston (WV) High School wide receiver Aaron Dobson, a Marshall recruit.
The 6-foot-0, 192-pound Wilson appears to have the whole package – speed, balance, vision and strength. After Thursday’s morning session, Wilson stayed limber by doing about 10 consecutive somersault flips, moves that would have made an Olympic gymnast jealous.
And talk about being multitalented, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Dobson was West Virginia’s Mr. Basketball and the runner-up for Mr. Football.
TREMENDOUS SUPPORT: That’s what Coach Kyle said he and Team USA have received from so many college coaches across the country, including Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer.
MEWHORT’S tête-à-tête: While Coach Merritt has the language barrier with Sweden covered, Team USA’s standout offensive lineman Jack Mewhort from Toledo St. John’s Jesuit can do the same with the team from France.
An Ohio State recruit, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Mewhort began studying French when he was in the seventh grade. He still credits his junior-high teacher, Fred Koperske, for giving him an appreciation of the language, and he said he had excellent teachers of the French language throughout high school.
NO ONE MORE DESERVING: Congratulations go out to Coach Kyle for being part of the 2010 class to be inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Also part of this special class are former Willoughby South, West Geauga and Case Western Reserve University coach Jim Chapman and former Archbishop Hoban and Orrville coach Mo Tipton.
Along with his 10 state championships and three national crowns (1989, '93 and '95), Coach Kyle has 262 career victories (all at Saint Ignatius), including a 55-11 mark in the postseason. He has guided the Wildcats to a state-best 21 consecutive apperances in the Division I playoffs and an Ohio-record five consecutive big-school titles (1991-95). His 1996 Wildcats were state runners-up and his 2008 state-championship team was the national runner-up by MaxPreps.
A former All-City running back for Saint Ignatius, Kyle will be entering his 27th season as the Wildcats' head coach next month.
ANOTHER SAINT IGNATIUS TIE: Along with USA Football Director of Communications Steve Alic, who is a graduate of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School and Cleveland State University, there is another Clevelander on the staff for the IFAF Junior World Championship.
Angela LoBue, a graduate of Padua High School and Mount Union College, is serving an internship for USA Football. She is writing website features for the Junior World Championship, working at the practices and will be assisting in the Fawcett Stadium press box during the games.
And, in the “it’s a small world category,’’ Angela LoBue is a sister-in-law to Saint Ignatius head baseball coach Brad Ganor.
A friendly, yet spirited exchange; Team USA and Team Sweden match their skills.
A preview of what France has to offer.
USA’s Jordan Poyer: A young man with talents wider than the old Oregon Trail.
One of the area’s best to officiate during the IFAF Tournament; just a reminder on Chris Spielman.
The Repository publishes a collector’s item; a tip of the cap for a tremendous effort.
Stories posted on 6/23/09 at 12:55 a.m.
By Eddie Dwyer
North Canton, Ohio – It was a humid Monday afternoon on the campus of Walsh University, as Coach Chuck Kyle ’69 and his team from the United States got a small taste of the flavor that accompanies international football.
Team USA and Team Sweden, who are preparing for this weekend’s first round of the IFAF Junior World Championship Tournament, practiced together, matched up in some hard-nosed one-on-one drills and even did a little scrimmaging, if you will.
Although Team USA definitely displayed its pigskin superiority, the players and coaches from Sweden didn’t leave the field with a bad taste in their mouths. Sweden did, in the words of its strength coach Niclos Carlson, get a good impression of just how many self-motivated players it has.
Sweden, the tournament’s sixth seed, could meet the United States again in a more serious venue, providing both teams are successful in their opening-round games.
Head coach Jan Jenmert will send his Sweden squad against third-seeded Mexico on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Canton’s legendary Fawcett Stadium. The United States, seeded second to Canada, will face seventh-seeded France at 8 p.m. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 7 p.m.
If Sweden and Team USA are victorious, they will return to Fawcett Stadium on July 1 for a second-round match-up at 7 p.m.
“We needed to get a feel for international competition,’’ said Coach Kyle, who has a 26-year career record at Saint Ignatius of 262-58-1 and was recently elected to the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame. “These are high school graduates who are going into college. We’ve never done international before.’’
Team USA definitely had its appetite for a little pad-rattling satisfied as the size, strength and athleticism of Coach Kyle’s team was on display early and often Monday afternoon.
However, as Kyle emphasized, his team really didn’t get a chance to hone its play with the 40-second clock or work against the chop block, which also is part of the international game.
“We’ll have to find some drills (for the chop blocking),’’ Kyle said. “Throw some bags at them or something. But today was just the benefit of not going against ourselves (in practice). That gets old pretty quickly. We got a lot of reps in, and that’s good.’’
FRANCE AT A GLANCE
A historical French twist: The first game of American football played in France was in 1919, when American soldiers who remained on French territory after World War I played in the former Parc des Princes stadium. The first French team, Spartacus de Paris, was formed in 1980 and in turn the French Federation of American Football was born in 1983 with nine clubs (teams) and 600 licensed players. In 2004, France earned its first international title when its junior national team won the European Junior Championship. France successfully defended its title in 2006.
Head coach: Oliver Moret. A resident of the city of Amiens Picardie, Moret, 41, is in his third season as head coach of Team France. He played for the French Senior National Team in 1991 and ’92.
Players to watch: Quarterback Maxime Sprauel (5-foot-11, 187 pounds); fullback Steven Joacin (5-10, 207); linebackers Giovanni Nanguy (6-3, 207) and Geoffrey Dieny (6-2, 190); and running back Thomas Ruiz (5-9, 154). Sprauel, 19, is the youngest quarterback at the domestic senior level in France. He is dual threat at passing and running the ball.
Coach Kyle on Team France: “Again, being the first game I’m concerned about the overall package of international football. The chop blocks, just the whole idea. It is play in when the 40 seconds begin, and our kids have never experienced that. (Sprauel) can do some good things with the ball and defensively they’ll be in a four-man front, where we’ve been going mostly against an odd front (in practices). So we have to start gearing up a little bit more for the even front. I’m going to be very conscious of field position because I think our defense is pretty good and I think we have a real good kicker/punter (Mike Loftus from Anaheim California Servite High School, an SMU recruit).’’
Kyle on the goal of winning the Gold Medal: “Winning is an earned blessing. You work hard at it, you execute and you don’t make mistakes. You practice hard to get to that level of execution.’’
Tickets: All-day general admission tickets are $10 and reserved tickets to all 12 games are $50. Tickets for fans 18 and under start at $5. Call (800) 574-5874 for more ticket information. The Bronze Medal Game is scheduled for July 4 at 7 p.m. and the Gold Medal Game will be played on July 5 at 1 p.m. Fox College Sports will provide live television broadcasts of the Bronze and Gold Medal games.
A passion for his Pacific Northwest
Jordan Poyer will probably never forget that Thursday night in late September last year.
“I was at the game, I ran on the field with everybody too, the second it was over,’’ said Poyer of Oregon State University’s 27-21 victory over then undefeated and top-ranked USC.
It’s a good bet the poised and humble Poyer will have some more memorable nights in Corvallis.
A standout in Team USA’s defensive secondary, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound graduate of Astoria (Ore.) High School is bound for Oregon State on a football scholarship.
But first things first, as right now the amiable and gifted Poyer is gearing up for what he hopes will be a Gold Medal memory.
“It’s a great experience for everyone out here,’’ Poyer said of representing his country in a world-wide event. “I’ve built some pretty good friendships that I will probably have for the rest of my life. People back home said they didn’t know if I could compete with these guys. But I feel like I’m doing a real good job.’’
Anyone who looks at Poyer’s accomplishments, as Coach Mike Riley of the Oregon State Beavers obviously did, wouldn’t question for a second his ability to compete.
In leading Astoria to a 14-0 state-championship season, Poyer was named both the offensive and defensive Player of the Year in Oregon. A quarterback and safety during his three-year varsity career, he accounted for 123 touchdowns. And oh, by the way, he also was a three-time all-state selection in baseball and helped Astoria to a state championship in that sport this spring.
“I love it there,’’ Poyer said of Oregon State. “I’ve been going to camps there since I was in the seventh grade and my mom went to school there. It’s just a great family atmosphere there, and that’s why I like it so much.’’
Poyer, who was drafted by the Florida Marlins as a center fielder in the 42nd round of this month’s Major League Baseball first-year player draft, said he plans to give both football and baseball a go at Oregon State.
In referring to the friendships he has made this past week and a half, Poyer talked about one of his defensive secondary partners – Saint Ignatius All-Ohio safety and Miami (Ohio) recruit Pat Hinkel.
“He’s a great guy, a cool guy,’’ Poyer said of Hinkel, who can share those special feelings of a state-championship season with his new friend from the Pacific Northwest. “I didn’t know what to expect coming here, but all of these guys are making it a lot of fun for me.’’
Congratulations to one of the best in his profession
Greg Shields from Cleveland, one of the outstanding football and basketball officials in Ohio, is among the eight officials from the United States who will be working the IFAF Junior World Championship.
Shields, who brings knowledge, class and sound judgment to both the football field and the basketball court, is among 31 game officials from four continents and 14 countries to be selected.
Chris Spielman to address Team USA
Chris Spielman, who was recently elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, was a four-time NFL All-Pro selection, an All-American at Massillon Washington and The Ohio State University, and is currently an ESPN college football analyst, will speak to Team USA tonight (Tuesday) at 8 in the Barrette Business & Community Center on the campus of Walsh University.
And last, but certainly not least
This corner would like to commend the Canton Repository for Sunday’s special section on the Junior World Tournament. It is not only a must for every fan who plans to attend the games, but also a keepsake for every coach and player who is competing in the historical event.
A tip of the cap goes out to sports editor Joe Frollo, page designer John Barns, Bob Kast and Michael Weiss for their cover and illustrations and to all of the outstanding reporters, including three this corner had the sincere privilege of covering games with during my years at The Plain Dealer – Chris Beaven, Todd Porter and Steve Doerschuk.
USA, USA, USA!
What more can we say?
Coach Kyle's United States squad overpowers France. Up next is Mexico on Wednesday (July 1) at 7 p.m.
Story was posted on 6/28/09 at 1:47 a.m.
By Eddie Dwyer
CANTON, OHIO – Too much speed, too much skill, too much strength, oh well, you get the point.
Team USA, under the direction of Saint Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle ’69, made a resounding debut in Saturday’s opening round of the IFAF Junior World Championship in legendary Fawcett Stadium.
Dominating from the get-go, the United States made plays legends are made of in powering its way to a 78-0 victory over France.
Seeded second in the eight-nation international event, Team USA got an early touchdown from New Castle (DE) William Penn graduate Brian Fields, a Western Michigan recruit, and the enthusiastic and patriotic crowd was roaring from that point on.
The United States, whose 45-man roster is comprised of several of the top high school graduates from the Class of 2009, had seventh-seeded France on its heels all night.
Coach Kyle’s deep and gifted squad simply had too many starring roles, as following the first of two touchdowns by Fields, Oregon State recruit Jordan Poyer blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. Poyer, the offensive and defensive Player of the Year in Oregon while excelling as a quarterback/safety for Astoria High School, also had a touchdown off an interception return wiped out by a penalty.
The 37-point, first-half dominance also featured three impressive touchdown runs by Danville (VA) George Washington tailback David Wilson, a player we talked about on “The Corner’’ last week.
Wilson, who will be furthering his education and football career at Virginia Tech, scored on powerful and graceful runs of 6, 60 and 5 yards in the first 24 minutes, and had a fourth TD burst of 14 yards early in the third quarter. The 6-0, 192-pound Wilson rushed for 181 yards on just 12 carries.
Team USA’s final touchdown of the first half came on a 9-yard pass from Lake Hamilton (AR) High School quarterback Phillip Butterfield to Crenshaw (Los Angeles) wide receiver Noel Grigsby. Butterfield and Grigsby are bound for Arkansas State and San Jose State, respectively.
“David is just an amazing talent,’’ said Coach Kyle of the smooth and forceful Wilson. “Believe it or not, he spent his high school career running the Wing-T (offense), which is quite of a different angle in running the ball. So when he got here, he goes: ‘I never lined up as an I-formation tailback in my life.’
“And we’re going, well, you’ve got a week and a half to figure it out.
I think he did, and I think (Virginia Tech coach) Frank Beamer is going to appreciate that we backed him up (behind the line of scrimmage), let him get vision and run. He makes great cuts, has tremendous speed and is just a wonderful kid.’’
The United States was wonderful in almost every aspect of the game on Saturday night, totaling 610 yards in 60 plays and limiting France to just 7 yards in 47 plays. The quick, athletic and relentless USA defense assembled by Cincinnati St. Xavier coach Steve Specht totally shut down any attempt at a running game by the French, whose final total on the ground was negative 31 yards on 29 rushing attempts.
“With a week and a half (of practice), that’s about what you can prepare,’’ Coach Kyle said. “We’re going to play aggressive defense, there’s really no other way of doing it. Offensively we were running the ball well, but we did want to work on a passing game. So in the second quarter we decided to go out there, throw it a bit and get into a rhythm.
“I don’t like games getting like that (so lopsided),’’ Kyle continued. “But I don’t know how I can change that, if you only have 45 guys on your squad. Some of the first round games were higher scores, and certainly the second and third rounds are going to be much closer. But everybody’s OK, everybody’s playing football and I think if you noticed, it was pretty friendly out there.’’
Team USA, which was welcomed with open arms by the football-savvy fans in Stark County, will face third-seeded Mexico in a second-round encounter on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Fawcett Stadium.
Mexico, behind the quick and accurate release of quarterback Roberto Isaias Vega, advanced with a 41-0 victory over sixth-seeded Sweden on Saturday afternoon. Vega completed 11 of 22 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown.
“Mexico will be a challenge because they have some nice speed and a good, good quarterback,’’ said Kyle.
O CANADA!: Team Canada did nothing to tarnish its No. 1 seeding, as the Canadians dominated early and often in defeating the eighth seed New Zealand, 55-0, in Saturday’s opening game.
With its impressive victory, Canada advances to Wednesday’s second-round action against fourth-seeded Japan. The kickoff from Fawcett Stadium will be 4 p.m. Japan defeated fifth-seeded Germany, 10-7, in Saturday’s second game.
Team Canada rolled up 515 total yards and limited New Zealand to 53 yards. The Canadians led, 20-0, with two minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter and held a 41-0 lead at halftime.
THE DEFINITION OF JAPANESE FOOTBALL BY HEAD COACH TAKAO YAMAZAKI: “Samurai Football, heart, technique and physical! We will play with discipline.’’
Japan stayed disciplined throughout Saturday’s game and rallied from a 7-3 deficit after three quarters. The winning score came off an 8-yard quarterback keeper by Kazuma Ando. Ando’s game-winner was set up by some razzle-dazzle – a 26-yard double-reverse pass from Takushiro Hata to a wide open Jumpei Yoshimoto. The crowd-pleaser came off a second-and-5 from Germany’s 34-yard line.
A TALE OF TWO HALVES: In taking a 7-0 lead to its locker room at halftime, Germany totaled 135 yards on 23 plays and Japan managed just 31 yards on 24 plays. It was almost a total reversal in the second half as Japan gained 152 yards on 29 plays and Germany was held to 43 yards on 19 plays.
AXEL IN THE HOUSE: Taking in the Germany-Japan, Mexico vs. Sweden and USA-France games was Axel Hoyer, father of former Saint Ignatius football and baseball standout Brian Hoyer ’04. Brian Hoyer, who went on to a solid career as a quarterback for the Michigan State Spartans, is currently competing for a spot on the roster of the New England Patriots.
Axel Hoyer’s parents, his late father Edward and his mother Auguste, were born in Germany, as was Axel. Axel said he was nine months old when his family moved to the United States.
In another Hoyer tie with Germany, Brian Hoyer’s current teammate – offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer – represented Germany at the 2002 European Junior Championship and became the first European-trained player to be selected in the NFL Draft when he was taken in the second round by the Patriots (58th player selected overall). Brian Hoyer plans to be on hand for this week’s second-round action in Canton.
IN STYLE: Also keeping an attentive eye on the USA-France game was Wildcats veteran offensive coordinator Nick Restifo. Coach Restifo was wearing a dapper white derby cap. But then all Cathedral Latin School graduates know how to make a classy appearance.
OUTSTANDING WORK AS USUAL: By Tim Rogers, my former colleague at The Plain Dealer, whose player profiles, team previews, notebooks, advances and game stories are keeping The PD readers entertained and informed. Tim has been a one-man machine while churning out great material on the IFAF Junior World Tournament.
A MEMORABLE SCENE: That’s about the best way to describe the opening ceremonies, which took place before the USA-France game.
All of the eight competing nations marched into Fawcett Stadium and lined up near the 50-yard line on the press-box side of the field, where a large American Flag flowed behind the teams. Team USA was the last competitor to enter the stadium and was led by the multitalented David Wilson, who carried the American Flag.
The National Anthem was followed by a fireworks display and, in a touching moment, Canton native Ronnie “Mazel’’ Harris, who won a gold medal in the lightweight boxing division at the 1968 Summer Olympics and went on to a professional career, entered the stadium carrying the flaming torch. Harris was greeted by a rousing ovation as he circled the entire stadium.
A huge tip of the cap, or helmet, if you will, goes out to the entire IFAF Junior World Championship staff for providing a classy and historical moment for all of us who were fortunate enough to be in attendance.
BY THE NUMBERS: And speaking of attendance, Saturday’s four games attracted a total of 10,145 fans to legendary Fawcett Stadium.
It’s another overwhelming performance by Wilson and Co.
Victory over Mexico vaults Coach Kyle ’69 and the United States into Sunday’s Gold Medal Game against top-seeded Canada
Posted on 7/02/09 at 1:38 a.m.
By Eddie Dwyer
CANTON, OHIO – As the Star Spangled Banner echoed throughout legendary Fawcett Stadium on Wednesday night, Team USA’s gifted offensive lineman Jack Mewhort raised an American Flag in the air and waved it back and forth.
Mewhort, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound Ohio State recruit out of Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, was standing tall and proud after leading his team onto to the field for a second-round game against Mexico in the IFAF Junior World Championship.
Twelve minutes later, all 45-players on the United States roster were standing taller than the opposition from Mexico, as Coach Chuck Kyle’s squad powered its way to a 27-point first quarter and went on to dominant third-seeded Mexico, 55-0.
With the victory, Team USA advances to the game most veterans of international competition have been anticipating – a Gold Medal matchup with Canada, the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Seeded second in the eight-nation event, the United States will face Canada on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Fawcett Stadium. The game will be televised by Fox College Sports.
“This is going to be a true championship,’’ said Coach Kyle of Sunday’s game. “That’s a very, very good football team, Canada. The Canadian kids play football. They play it like our kids. We’re going to have to play better than we have been playing.
“Looking at these penalties (15 for 160 yards against Mexico), that could really haunt us. I like our talent and everything, but we have to correct that.’’
In a game that was strikingly similar to Saturday night’s 78-point, opening-round triumph over France, Team USA set the tempo behind another brilliant performance by Virginia Tech recruit David Wilson.
A multitalented tailback from Danville (VA) George Washington High School, the 6-0, 192-pound Wilson took the handoff on the first play from scrimmage, cut through a huge hole over the left side, bounced outside and went untouched into the end zone from 50 yards. Mike Loftus, an SMU recruit out of Anaheim (CA) Servite High School, kicked the extra point and the rout was on with the game just 16 seconds old.
Wilson, who has been featured on “The Corner’’ from the first day of practice, added another athletic and graceful TD run of 36 yards with six minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. The United States then silenced the Mexican faithful with a 53-yard scoring pass from quarterback Bryce Petty to linebacker/fullback Robert Bell and a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Shamarko Thomas with 3:34 left in the quarter.
Petty is a Baylor recruit out of Midlothian (TX) High School, Bell is an East Grand Rapids (MI) graduate headed for Toledo and Thomas, the pride of Ocean Lakes (VA), will play his college football at Syracuse.
Team USA left no doubt in the second quarter when Wilson, who has accounted for seven touchdowns and 327 yards rushing in two games, powered and spun his way up the middle, broke three tackles and went 25 yards into the end zone. Sixteen seconds later, Bell tacked on his second TD – a 10-yard effort off a fumble recovery.
Wilson, whose highlight-reel runs were described by Petty as “freakish,’’ carried the ball seven times in the first half for 131 yards and finished with 146 yards rushing on 11 carries. The United States totaled 433 yards on 50 plays and Mexico managed just 35 yards on 43 plays.
“They were packing the box up front and trying to prevent David Wilson from getting out and running the ball,’’ said Bell of the early defensive strategy by Mexico. “That’s why that draw pass (to me) worked. When they pack it in defensively, I go right to the middle in the seam.’’
Bell said his fumble return, one of three defensive scores by Team USA, came off a blitz from the outside. He emphasized that Mexico never saw the blitz coming and that he just picked up the ball and scored.
“The Gold Medal, the first Gold Medal ever played for in the United States in football,’’ Bell said of Sunday’s championship game. “And we’re going to bring it home.
“Yeah, the best is yet to come. Come back Sunday, and you’ll find out.’’
After Team USA tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half – a 27-yard interception return by Oregon State recruit Jordan Poyer out of Astoria (OR) High School and a 27-yard pass from Petty to Marshall recruit Aaron Dobson from South Charleston (WV) – Petty emphasized that he and his teammates have all of the incentive they need heading into Sunday’s game.
“As a team, we’ve been gunning for Canada this entire tournament,’’ said Petty, who completed 6 of 8 passes for 136 yards and two scores. “With them being ranked No. 1 and us No. 2, that’s put a big star on them for us. We’ll be ready for them. That’s for sure.’’
ONE TO REMEMBER: In what was easily the tournament’s most entertaining matchup so far, Canada, trailing by four points with 1:27 remaining, scored on a 33-yard pass from quarterback Jeremie Doyon-Roch to tailback/wideout Alex Anthony with 16 seonds left and turned back fourth-seeded Japan, 38-35.
Anthony made a sure-handed catch, spun away from would-be tacklers and, in an impressive display of heart and second effort, dragged defenders with him into the end zone.
The teams combined for 837 yards, including 461 by Canada. Japan will face Mexico in Saturday’s 7 p.m. Bronze Medal Game.
SWEDEN BOUNCES BACK: After being outplayed by Mexico in the opening round, Sweden responded with a 24-14 victory over France on Wednesday afternoon. France finished with 202 total yards to Sweden’s 200 yards and had 16 first downs to Sweden’s 12.
Trailing, 6-0, Sweden outscored France, 17-0, in the second quarter. Both of Sweden’s touchdowns in those decisive 12 minutes came off turnovers – a 42-yard interception return and a 51-yard return with a fumble recovery.
Sweden, seeded sixth, will face fifth-seeded Germany on Saturday at 4 p.m. The winner will garner a fifth-place finish in the tournament.
Wednesday's official attendance was 11,218.
TEAM USA IS GOLDEN
Coach Kyle guides the United States to the IFAF Junior World Championship
Posted on 7/05/09 at 7:40 p.m.
Petty is perfect as Team USA wears down Canada.
Pat Hinkel shares his final thoughts.
By Eddie Dwyer
CANTON, OHIO – Nearly eight months ago, Chuck Kyle ’69 walked off the field in legendary Fawcett Stadium having guided his Saint Ignatius Wildcats to an Ohio-record 10th Division I state football championship.
Sunday afternoon, Kyle brought his winning ways back to the legendary Stark County facility, which sits adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Only this time it was on an international level in which the man they call “Chico’’ added to his already rich coaching legacy.
The United States, wrapping up a successful debut in the eight-nation IFAF Junior World Championship, wore down Canada, 41-3, in the Gold Medal Game.
In outscoring its three tournament opponents – France, Mexico and Canada – 174-3, Team USA, in the words of standout quarterback Bryce Petty, showed everyone that football is America’s sport.
“Coming into this, I think that was everybody’s motivation,’’ said Petty, who put together a near flawless performance against top-seeded Canada. “That meant everything to me, ever since they pulled out the bracket and I saw we were (seeded) No. 2. This is our sport, always has been. And I think we showed them today.’’
Petty and Co. wasted little time in showing the 15,473 in attendance just how well they play their sport, as an interception by Ohio State recruit Storm Klein set up a 17-yard touchdown pass from Petty to wide receiver Jamal Davis with less than a minute gone in the opening quarter.
Two minutes later, the United States extended its lead to 8-0 when Canada, forced to punt from the back of its end zone, elected to take a safety. The Canadians were pinned deep in their territory thanks to the defensive penetration of Team USA’s Jordan Lynch, Chris Payne and Robert Bell.
After Canada got on the scoreboard on a 38-yard field goal by Lirim Hajrullahu, the United States answered with a perfectly executed 33-yard option play by Petty and Virginia Tech recruit David Wilson.
Petty, who will further his education and football career at Baylor, took the snap and ran over the right side for 4 yards before delivering a text-book pitch to Wilson. Wilson, the tournament’s most dominant performer, accounted for the final 29 yards with a powerful burst down the sideline and kicker Mike Loftus, who missed his first extra-point attempt, delivered this time for a 15-3 lead with eight seconds left in the first quarter.
Wilson, a graduate of Danville (VA) George Washington High School, racked up three-game totals of 425 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 33 carries. He will be reporting to Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer this week for what should be the start of a memorable college career.
Loftus, an SMU recruit out of Servite High School in Anaheim (CA), extended Team USA’s lead to 18-3 by kicking a 27-yard field goal with three seconds to go in the first half.
Then it was Petty time again.
With Petty, the pride of Midlothian (TX) High School, holding the hot hand, Coach Kyle’s squad took command on two more TD strikes by Petty in the third quarter. Petty, the game's MVP, was 14-for-14 passing for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
However, as impressive as the good-natured Petty was, he preferred to turn the attention to his receivers
“Negative, not even close,’’ said Petty, when reporters asked him if he ever had a “perfect’’ game before. “I mean I’ve had good practices here and there, but nothing like that.
“The thing about the 14-for-14 that goes unnoticed is that about 12 of those were a 5-yard hitch in which (the receivers) just turned and went up the field. Basically what I’m saying is we have athletes. I’m just so blessed to have been a part of this and to have the athletes around me that can do this.’’
Team USA would leave no doubt in the fourth quarter, as Coach Kyle’s team, comprised of several standouts from the high school graduating class of 2009, simply had too much skill and savvy for its neighbors up North.
As he did throughout the historic event, Kyle pointed to the relentless effort of his big, athletic and pad-rattling 3-5 defense, a scheme employed successfully by his teams at Saint Ignatius and the teams under Coach Steve Specht at Cincinnati St. Xavier. Specht was Team USA's defensive coordinator.
While there is no questioning how dominant and physically gifted the United States was, Coach Kyle, as he always seems to do, put the past month in perspective before joining his team on the field for the Gold Medal ceremony.
“You know, they take medals and trophies and where do they put them? They put trophies in a case or you take a medal and hang it up somewhere. What stays are the memories and the friendships. These guys will be friends the rest of their lives, they will be. This was a team!’’
And now, Coach Kyle will be focusing on the team that has been a part of his life since those fall days in the 1960s, when he was an All-City running back for the late John J. Wirtz.
Yes, it’s that time again when Kyle refuels his passion for the job he wouldn’t trade for any other position – guiding the fortunes of the 10-time state champion and three-time national champion Saint Ignatius Wildcats.
A LASTING MEMORY: “This was a special part of my life, I mean I never thought I would be playing for my country and playing for Coach Kyle one more time,’’ said Saint Ignatius All-Ohio safety and Miami (Ohio) recruit Pat Hinkel, as he was making his way to the field for the closing ceremonies. “All of the coaches were great guys. They brought different coaching styles to the table and everybody kind of adapted to that.
“We didn’t want to have any regrets when we look back on it 10 years from now,'' Hinkel continued. "We’re the first United States team to make this history, so we wanted to set an example for all of the other teams. In 2012 (the next Junior World Championship), they can say, ‘Hey, this first team did it right. They got the gold.’
“Yeah, we wanted to set the bar high.’’
THE MOTIVATION: For those who are of the opinion that today's youth lack patriotism, Coach Kyle begs to differ.
"This is what it was all about,'' Kyle said. "These young men wanted to play for their country.''
OUTSTANDING JOB ALL AROUND: A huge congratulations goes out to Steve Alic and the entire IFAF Junior World Championship staff, the city of Canton, the gracious press box staff at Fawcett Stadium and Walsh University for an outstanding job hosting this historical event.
The word is that Canton is being seriously considered as the site for the next Junior World Championship in 2012. The four-day attraction drew 40,043 fans to Fawcett Stadium.
To the football-savvy fans from Stark County, this corner tips its cap, or should we say helmet?
STORM WARNING: Former Newark Licking Valley standout Storm Klein said he has benefited greatly from enrolling at Ohio State early and taking part in the Buckeyes’ spring practice. The gifted linebacker emphasized how much faster the game is at the major-college level and how much bumping heads with the Buckeyes helped his play throughout the Junior World Championship.