National Team players share their stories before IFAF U19 World Championship

By Adam Wire | Posted 7/13/2018

U.S. National Team player Alec Meza shows off his helmet and footwear in preparation for the IFAF U19 World Championship.

As athletes from around the country prepare in Mexico City for the International Federation of American Football U19 World Championship, their hometown media outlets are taking notice.

The U.S. National Team is preparing for Saturday’s first-round game against Australia (noon EDT, 11 a.m. CDT). The U.S. will then play the winner of the Mexico-Japan game at 6 p.m. EDT July 18. The gold medal game is set for 8 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 22.


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The Tampa Bay Times reported on three National Team players who reside within its coverage area — Vinny LoSauro, a Tampa Jesuit graduate who'll play at Ohio Wesleyan University this fall; Jake O’Donnell, a James Madison quarterback who played at Sickles High School in Tampa; and Treshaun Ward, a senior running back at Tampa Bay Tech.

“It’s a huge honor,” LoSauro told The Times. “Not many people get a chance to do something like this. I can’t wait.”

Meanwhile, O’Donnell said of his National Team selection, “I really didn’t see this coming. It’s a privilege to represent my country. I’ve never been out of the country before, so this is a pretty big experience for me. I can’t wait.”

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Ward has received scholarship offers from 10 Power 5 conference schools, and rushed for 1,272 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.

“I’m blessed to be able to represent my country,” Ward told The Times.

Those three, along with the team’s other 41 members and coaching staff, practiced at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff from July 3-12. They arrived in Mexico City on Thursday night.

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Meanwhile, Alec Meza, a former Santa Cruz Valley High School and Scottsdale Community College-bound running back, is one of 10 players with Arizona ties who'll play for the U.S. Meza also played for the U-19 Select Team in the International Bowl in January.

“There’s not many people that can say they played for a chance at a gold medal in the sport of football,” Meza told the Casa Grande (Arizona) Dispatch. “Representing your country is the biggest honor I could possibly receive. My uncle started in the military and it’s awesome to represent my country. It means so much to me.”

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Alek Jacobs, another National Team quarterback, is preparing for his sophomore season at Augustana (Illinois) College. The Rock Island (Illinois) High School graduate said the National Team selection caught him off-guard.

“Coach (Ben) Hammer (Jacobs’ high school coach) contacted me, and a few days later they called and invited me,” Jacobs told The Rock Island Dispatch-Argus. “I talked to Coach (Steve) Bell (Augustana coach) and he gave me his blessing. Now I get a nice little summer vacation. And I’ve never been to Mexico.”

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West Plains (Missouri) High School graduate Dugan Kelly, an incoming Quincy (Illinois) University freshman, played alongside Meza on the U-19 Select team in January. 

He told the West Plains Daily Quill he’s playing to honor his father, who died last summer, shortly before Kelly began his senior season.

“In a lot of ways, I’m finishing this for him,” Kelly told the Daily Quill. “He always told me to finish what I started. He’s my motivation.”

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