For the first time since the inception of the Under-19 Football World Championship, a large group of players representing Canada will be coming from the west. The University of Calgary has the honour of sending three players and a coach. The star Dino rookies going to this event are quarterback Dalin Tollestrup, offensive lineman Dylan Steenbergen and running back Anthony Woodson.
"It's an honour to be able to represent Canada and to be given this chance," Woodson explained. "There is definitely more pressure involved playing for national pride."
Woodson has experience with pressure, having already represented Alberta in the 2005 Canada under-19 championship. Though Woodson only started in the last four games of the season, he almost instantly showed himself to be a dangerous offensive player, rushing 91 times for 554 yards and six touchdowns. He is seventh in the conference for rushing yards. The versatile Woodson also received 29 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
"I would love to play professional football and that's been a dream of mine since I was young," said Woodson. "I also know well enough to be sure to get my degree to fall back on."
An honours student in high school, Woodson is currently in the Haskayne School of Business getting a degree in land management. Woodson is trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, former Canadian Football League player Anthony Woodson, and he cites him as one of his main influences in getting involved in football, though the elder Woodson was more about stopping the rush than perpetuating it.
"I'm not so sure that my father was happy that I was playing on the other side of the field, but he has been very supportive all throughout my football career," Woodson said.
His fantastic performances in the final four games of the season have made Woodson a player to watch in the coming years. In three of those last four games he managed to rush for over 100 yards.
With three of the finest Dinos representing Canada, there's a good chance the Canadians will be able to continue their winning streak of two years.
The tournament will be played at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of the festivities leading up to Super Bowl XLL. The eleventh incarnation of the tournament will start Sun., Jan. 28 with the games determining the finalists taking place Wed., Jan. 31. Canada will start the tournament in a pool against Japan and France and will hopefully take part in the final on Sat., Feb. 3, the day before the Superbowl.