USA wins gold medal at 2015 IFAF World Championship; WR Trent Steelman is MVP

By Brad Bournival | Posted 7/18/2015

Once the train was engaged, it was near impossible for Japan to keep up.

By the time the gold medal game of the International Federation of American Football World Championship was over, the United States was looking at its third straight title.

It came in a tidy 59-12 win over two-time champion Japan in Canton, Ohio, and was a result of one big play after another.

“We’re world champs,” U.S. game and tournament MVP wide receiver Trent Steelman said. “That’s what America does. We play football. We came in with the mentality that we’re going to teach the rest of the world that this is our game, and we did that for four games straight games.”

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Playing in just its fourth game as a team and in front of national champions J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones of Ohio State, the United States (4-0) looked like a veteran squad that had been together for years as each member won a gold medal for the first time in his career.

It came in just about every facet as defense was responsible for three touchdowns – a 75-yard pick six by David Guthrie (New Mexico/Tenmile, Ore.), a 36-yard fumble recovery by Kyle Olugbode (Stanford/San Jose, Calif.) and another fumble recovery by Alex Gross (Columbia/Kettering, Ohio)

It came with touchdowns from eight players, and it came with 413 yards on 62 plays for an average of 6.7 yards.

Offense once again was at a premium as Steelman (Army/Bowling Green, Ky.) led all rushers with 56 yards and a score, while Dylan Favre (Tennessee-Martin/Kiln, Miss.), Aaron Wimberly (Iowa State/Duluth, Minn.) and Kevin Burke (Mount Union/Westlake, Ohio) added rushing scores.

Tight end Ernst Brun (Iowa State/Stone Mountain, Ga.) registered the only receiving touchdown as the United States once again showed its dominance.

“It just goes to show how good Americans are at football,” Burke said. “This is our sport. We invented it, and we’re going to be the most dominant in the sport for years and years upon decades.

“When this team got together the very first day about three weeks ago, I knew it was something special. Yeah, we have our miscommunications here and there and that comes with it. But when it’s all said and done, we’re gold medalists, and no one can stop us offensively or defensively.”

Not lost in the complete-game effort by the United States was its third IFAFWC title in as many tries. The U.S. didn’t participate in the 1999 and 2003 games, but since joining the championship it has won every time.

The 2015 team was its most dominant in terms of points (214) and kept the Americans undefeated in IFAF play through 11 games.

The 11 games won matches Japan’s for most wins by a country, though Japan has lost four times – three of them to the United States.

“It’s incredible to be out here and represent your country,” Guthrie said. “Playing football is something we’ve been doing since we were 6 years old. We’ve been playing in Pop Warner leagues, so it’s awesome to see everything click. We’ve only been together for three weeks. To come together in that short amount of time, it shows a lot about this team, a lot about this country.”

Steelman logged 18 catches for 258 yards and two scores, rushed for 66 yards and a score, and recovered a fumble for a touchdown over four games to earn his All-Tournament MVP nod.

Also picking up first-team selections were Burke, Wimberly, Brun and offensive lineman James Atoe (Washington/The Dalles, Ore.) on offense.

Defensive lineman Jack Sherlock (South Dakota State/Chicago), linebackers Steve Kurfehs (Texas-San Antonio/San Antonio), Gross and Guthrie also picked up first-team nods as did defensive back Robert Virgil (University of Sioux Falls/Elk Grove, Calif.).

“It’s a credit to our players and how smart they are and adaptable they are in the systems that they come from and then to our coaches who did a great job of packaging things together,” USA head coach Dan Hawkins said. “We ran this like a team, not an all-star team. We wanted a full complement of offense, defense and special teams. We just have continually gotten better, and that showed up in the France game (an 82-0 win) and showed up here today.”

For Japan, it was a second runner-up finish after a bronze medal performance in the 2011 games and the country’s fifth medal in as many tournaments.

While it’s an incredible accomplishment in and of itself, Japanese head coach Kiyoyuki Mori wasn’t offering excuses for the 47-point loss.

“We need to improve more physically and technically,” Mori said. “I’m very proud of our players, but Japanese football has to improve more. We have to improve everywhere, offense, defense and special teams.” 

Below is a list of the entire first and second teams. A full game story is coming soon.

 

All-Tournament Team First Team

Pos

Country

No.

Name

QB

USA

10

Kevin Burke

RB

USA

28

Aaron Wimberly

RB

FRA

23

Stephan Yepmo

WR

USA

13

Trent Steelman

WR

JPN

81

Takashld i Kurihara

WR

AUS

11

Daniel Strickland

TE

USA

84

Ernst Brun

OL

AUS

60

Aaron Carbury

OL

USA

79

James Atoe

OL

FRA

79

Olivier Bourdin

OL

JPN

79

Akira Katsuyama

 

 

 

 

K

MEX

19

Jose Maltos

KR

FRA

8

Anthony Dable

 

 

 

 

DL

FRA

92

Robin Mouton

DL

AUS

91

Alan Steinohrt

DL

USA

36

Jack Sherlock

LB

USA

50

Steve Kurfehs

LB

USA

7

David Guthrie

LB

USA

34

Alex Gross

LB

MEX

52

Daniel Carette

DB

BRA

14

Igor Mota

DB

AUS

22

Damien Donaldson

DB

USA

20

Robert Virgil

DB

JPN

25

Keizaburo Isagawa

 

 

All-Tournament Team Second Team

 

Country

No.

Name

Pos

JPN

10

Shohei Kato

QB

USA

6

Sadale Foster

RB

JPN

21

Ryo Takagi

RB

JPN

11

Naoki Maeda

WR

MEX

18

Raul San Roman

WR

BRA

9

Rodrigo Pons

WR

JPN

88

Takahiro Haruta

TE

JPN

72

Yutaro Kobayashi

OL

KOR

75

Seung Jun Oh

OL

USA

78

Abasi Salimu

OL

AUS

72

James Gifford

OL

 

 

 

 

JPN

26

Shintaro Saeki

K

USA

1

Bryan Douglas

KR

 

 

 

 

MEX

93

Octavio Gonzalez

DL

USA

92

Alec May

DL

AUS

92

Carlisle Jones

DL

FRA

1

Giovanni Nanguy

LB

BRA

59

Gerson Santos

LB

JPN

17

Kensuke Amaya

LB

AUS

24

Ryan Ottens

LB

MEX

56

Manuel Padilla

DB

USA

2

Mike Edwards

DB

AUS

6

Damien Molloy

DB

FRA

3

Arnaud Vidaller

 

MVP:                     WR 13 Trent Steelman, USA

Coach of the tournament:           Dan Hawkins, USA

 

 

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