Football Alberta’s U18 final 54 roster selection camp went ahead in Red Deer despite the smoky conditions over the weekend.
Originally planned to take part at Setter’s Place, The Dome Red Deer hosted the camp on short notice.
From May 19-21, 140 of the best high school football players across the province competed at the camp for a spot on Team Alberta for the upcoming Football Canada Cup on July 9 in Edmonton.
The purpose of the camp was to get the roster down from 140 to 54 players. Those 54 players will then attend another camp on June 10-11 in Red Deer where the final roster of 40 players will be selected.
Head coach Darcy Park, who’s coached the Edmonton Wildcats for 23 years, said there’s plenty of talent to choose from.
“To get to this level is very exciting,” he said. “Obviously, with the smoke conditions, we’re very thankful that Red Deer has this dome and we’re still allowed to evaluate. The kids have adapted well to the changes and it’s been really good.”
The coaching staff has limited time to evaluate the abundance of talent in front of them over the weekend. Park explained it’s important for the kids to know even if they don’t make the team, it’s no indication of their football potential.
“This is only a snapshot. We’re choosing players for this week. If I was recruiting a kid to come into a program the decisions would be different based on the higher ceilings. The players have been awesome and there’s a lot of talent in this province,” he said.
”The fact they’re at this level means something and as a coaching staff all we’re trying to do is get the best 40 we can to take a run at the Canada Cup.”
Of those attending camps included quite a few from central Alberta including quarterback Marek Filipek, runningback Elliott Wyse, receivers Aldin Bilabegovic, Riley Hutton, Adnesse Pannenbecker, Blair VanBrunschot, offensive linemen Kieran Peterson, Daxon Tanner, Austin Wiebe, defensive linemen Jesse Lumeka, Nathan Okoroafor, defensive backs Ethan Bilo, Riley Easton, and Cooper Niedermaier.
Ethan Bilo, who plays offence and defence at Hunting Hills, said it’s been fun to learn and compete at the Football Alberta camps.
“I just want to focus on good communication, good technique, good body language, and just try to play the best I can,” he said.