Jake Parent of the Paul Kane Blues will line up against the top U16 football players in the United States at the International Bowl on Friday in Arlington, Texas.
Parent, 15, is one of seven offensive linemen on the 38-man Team Alberta U16 roster.
“I was very happy to be able to make the team and to represent Alberta in football,” Parent said. “My goal is just try my best, have fun with it and represent Alberta to its fullest extent.”
Players were selected from the 2015 Bantam Bowl on May 18 in Lethbridge for the International Bowl and Parent is among 13 Capital District Minor Football Association players on Team Alberta, including former St. Albert resident and bantam Fury product, receiver/running back Jesse Stuht.
“It was a challenge getting there because there were a lot of selection processes involved,” said Parent, who played right guard and centre for the 2015 Paul Kane senior team. “I was surprised a bit by the selection. I was playing second string at Bantam Bowl but that was because I practised poorly.”
The International Bowl will be played under American rules and is one of six games between age-group teams from Canada and the United States sanctioned by the International Federation of American Football.
“The experience should make me a better football player. It will definitely expose me to new obstacles and techniques, seeing that we are playing against the best in the United States, which is considered a hotbed for football,” Parent said.
Teams will huddle up at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’ve already been there once on the PK Texas trip and it was amazing. It’s huge. I can’t wait to play on the field itself,” Parent said.
The inaugural Team Alberta U16 lineup was victorious last year with receiver/running back Keaton Zaychkowsky and right tackle Anthony Swecera of the Blues and quarterback Sam Cuciz of the St. Albert High Skyhawks on the roster.
“Anthony told me a few things of what to expect. He informed me naturally of the food they eat, which is kind of a lineman thing. He also told me it was definitely a cool experience and what the practices were all about,” said Parent, who expects to be used at guard by Team Alberta.
The players gathered earlier this month in Edmonton for a weekend camp and more sessions are scheduled in the days leading up the big game.
“We’ve also kept in touch through group chat and stuff, just going over plays with fellow players,” Parent said.
The six-foot, 270-pound lineman provided a scouting report on his football abilities.
“My strengths I would probably say my ability to read and block up to the second phase and my pass protection, that’s probably one of my better attributes,” said the bantam product of the 49ers.
Parent and quarterback Connor Guy were the only Grade 10s to crack the Paul Kane senior roster last year.
“It was definitely a step up from bantam. It was a learning experience but I started to get the hang of things. It also opened my eyes up to new ways to look at the formation, the blocking and just the plays in general. It was definitely something new and I really enjoyed it,” Parent said.
Paul Kane finished 8-3 as the Carr division one finalist in the metro Edmonton league and the Tier II (school population 750 to 1,249) provincial north semifinalist.
“It was a very strong team. It was great to get to know the guys. There was some very talented athletes and some very good overall people. Their attitude towards the game was good. They weren’t super-hardcore about the game. They were there to have fun but they were also there to win as well so it was a good mixture of attitudes and different kinds of people,” Parent said.
The highlight for Parent was the trip to Texas in September and the 44-16 loss to the Groesbeck Goats. It was 37-8 at halftime.
“Although we didn’t win the game we put in a good few final drives in the second half,” he said. “Overall, it was just the experience of meeting with the players in Texas, seeing their facilities and going to AT&T. It was probably the greatest part of the season.”