Saturday, November 17, 2018
Hometeam

Three county players join Team USA for world tournament in Mexico

TAMPA — For three Tampa high-school athletes, a typical summer of football preparation has turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.

Former Jesuit running back/linebacker Vinny LoSauro and former Sickles quarterback Jake O’Donnell — along with Tampa Bay Tech rising senior running back Treshaun Ward — were selected to compete for the 45-player Team USA in the bi-annual International Federation of American Football Under-19 World Championships. The event is held at Mexico City’s Olympic Stadium, site of the 1968 Summer Games.

"It’s a huge honor,’’ said LoSauro (5-foot-11, 195 pounds), who will play at Ohio Wesleyan University. "Not many people get a chance to do something like this. I can’t wait.’’

"I really didn’t see this coming,’’ said O’Donnell (6-4, 175), who is bound for James Madison University, a Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse program. "It’s a privilege to represent my country.’’

With LoSauro and O’Donnell, it will be more of a natural transition as they prepare for college football.

Youngblood (5-9, 185) faces more of a challenge.

He has undergone TBT’s normal summer conditioning. The trio departed on July 3 for Northern Arizona University and the Team USA training camp. Team USA opens the tournament on Saturday against Australia. With a victory, it advances to the semifinal on Thursday against the Mexico-Japan winner. With a second victory, it will play for a gold medal on July 22.

The USA is seeded No. 2 behind top-seeded Canada, a reflection of the Canadian championship in the 2016 event. Sweden is the other competing nation.

"We have a chip on our shoulder because we didn’t win the last one,’’ USA Football senior manager of football Aaron Ingram said. "But every day, I have a better feel about this one because I think we’ve assembled a really special group of kids.

"We think a lot of Jake. The quarterbacks are really important in these types of games. Jake’s a great fit for us not only because of his physical skills, but because of his leadership and personality. He’s the kind of guy you find yourself gravitating toward. I think this will really be a great experience for him.’’

O’Donnell established a relationship with USA Football in 2016, when he attended a regional development camp, which led to a spot in the USA Developmental Games.

"I haven’t played in a game since October (Sickles’ finale) and I’m going to redshirt (at JMU) … so that will be a lot of time without me playing in a game,’’ O’Donnell said. "I’ll be able to play in three games in Mexico. I get to represent my country and at the same time knock off some of the rust.

"I’ve never been out of the country before, so this is a pretty big experience for me. I can’t wait.’’

LoSauro played three seasons of linebacker at Jesuit before shifting to running back as a senior. He’s expected to play running back in college, but Team USA will first give him a look at linebacker.

"I feel like I can play any position they need me to play,’’ LoSauro said. "I’m eager to get out there and show what I can do.’’

Ward, meanwhile, continues to study his future options as he enters his senior season.

He already has received offers from schools in the ACC (Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia Tech); American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati, East Carolina, USF); Big Ten (Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue); Pac-12 (Oregon); and SEC (Kentucky, Missouri).

Ward, who rushed for 1,272 yards and 15 touchdowns last season as a TBT junior, said the Team USA opportunity is unique.

"I’m blessed to be able to represent my country,’’ Ward said.

Ingram said the Team USA players will be stepping into an environment that should be extremely memorable.

"We already have received inquiries for press interviews and appearances in Mexico, so I think the local community will really be behind this event,’’ Ingram said. "I’ve been to the venue. The playing surface and stadium are beautiful. It’s going to be a big-time thing.

"Certainly there was a time when Team USA would be head and shoulders above other countries in football, but there has been so much improvement and exposure throughout the world. Mexico City would like to have its own NFL franchise, so that’s an area with great football interest. From a football and cultural perspective, this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience.’’

Contact Joey Johnston at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Comments
Football playoffs: Jefferson 34, Lakewood 23

Football playoffs: Jefferson 34, Lakewood 23

ST. PETERSBURG — Jefferson continues to prove that seedings don't matter in Class 5A. A week after upsetting top seed Hardee, the No. 8Dragons took down No. 4 seed Lakewood 34-23 in the region semifinals.Niko Duffey scored two first-half rushin...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Football playoffs: Bloomingdale 21, Palmetto 14

Football playoffs: Bloomingdale 21, Palmetto 14

VALRICO — In the offseason, Bloomingdale coach Max Warner told his players the goal was to play on Thanksgiving weekend.That left a lot of perplexed looks from the Bulls."They didn't know what that meant," Warner said.Bloomingdale had neve...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Football playoffs: Plant 39, Viera 18

Football playoffs: Plant 39, Viera 18

VIERA — Once again, the Plant Panthers proved they're the kind of team that can take a little momentum … and run you over with it.That was the case in Friday night's Class 7A, Region 2 semifinal as the Panthers rallied from an 18-10 halft...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Football playoffs: Seffner Christian 27, Carrollwood Day 16

Football playoffs: Seffner Christian 27, Carrollwood Day 16

DOVER – Isaiah Knowles connected with Christian Helms on a pair on 10-yard touchdown tosses as Seffner Christian defeated Carrollwood Day 27-16 on Friday, giving the Crusaders their first playoff win in school history. The win, a rematch o...
Published: 11/17/18

Football playoffs: Nature Coast 17, Baker County 16

BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast, an easy winner most of its past 10 games, really never had the need to attempt a field goal this season. Nor did the Sharks need to throw much, despite quarterback Fabian "2 Fabe" Burnett possessing a talented arm.Bu...
Published: 11/16/18

Football playoffs: Admiral Farragut 40, Cambridge Christian 14

ST. PETERSBURG — Admiral Farragut's Courtney Eubanks came out for his first home playoff game ready to play.Early in the first quarter, Eubanks had an interception on defense and followed that play with a touchdown on offense as the Blue Jacket...
Published: 11/16/18

Football playoffs: Citra North Marion 40, Zephyrhills 21

ZEPHYRHILLS — Zephyrhills' perfect season is imperfect now that it is over. A 40-21 loss to Citra North Marion in Friday night's Class 5A region semifinal ended the Bulldogs' season at 11-1. They were ousted in the second round for a second str...
Published: 11/16/18

Football playoffs: Jesuit 31, Immokalee 3

TAMPA — What a celebratory year it would be if Jesuit could win its second state championship in the golden anniversary season of its first.The Tigers are three wins away from making that happen.Jesuit moved to the next round Friday with a 31-3...
Published: 11/16/18

Football playoffs: Clearwater Central Catholic 30, Tampa Catholic 3

CLEARWATER — A defense that strong can forgive a lot of sins. Coming off of a two-week break with an uncharacteristic streak of undisciplined play, Clearwater Central Catholic presented itself with more challenges in the early stages of Friday'...
Published: 11/16/18

Football playoffs: Armwood 65, Lake Weir 7

SEFFNER – E.J. Wilson scored four touchdowns and Aamaris Brown had an interception return for a touchdown to carry Armwood to a dominant 65-7 win against Lake Weir in the Class 6A region semifinals Friday.The 11-1 Hawks will travel to Ocala Van...
Published: 11/16/18