AUSTIN, Texas – For all of the lessons learned, bonds formed and strides made during the two weeks Team USA was together for the IFAF U-19 World Championship, it'll be hard for everyone involved to ignore the end result.
Brayden Scott and the Team USA offense couldn't get it going against Canada.
Due to turnovers, missed opportunities and big plays allowed Team USA fell to Team Canada, 23-17, in the Gold medal game of the tournament on Saturday night at Austin's Burger Stadium.
Team USA amassed only 201 yards of total offense, and it's two turnovers on offense came at inopportune times. Additionally, the Americans went just 3-of-14 on third downs and couldn't get anything going offensively.
The latter is what Team USA head coach Steve Specht said made the difference in the game.
“We'd get some things going and then we'd just implode,” Specht said. “We'd make a mistake or we'd have a penalty. We just never got into a rhythm.”
That was true on offense where Team USA quarterback and Memphis commit Brayden Scott (Tulsa, Okla./Tahleqah-Sequoyah) completed just 14-of-35 passes for 106 yards. He did hook up with Washington State commit Demarcus Ayers (Lancaster, Texas) and Florida commit Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood) for touchdowns but dropped passes, missed assignments and missed opportunities were too much to overcome.
Team USA had one of the two interceptions lead to Canada field goal, allowed a punt return for a touchdown and failed to properly execute an onside kick in the game's final moments.
That said, Specht said people need give the Canadians their respect.
“I don't want to take anything away from Canada because they played hard and were a pretty good football team,” Specht said. “That's a pretty good football team we lost to tonight.”
Durham Smythe was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Defensively Team USA allowed 204 yards through the air, and seemed unable to get a consistent pass rush or defend the deep ball.
“These guys all come from different systems and it seemed like tonight there was a tendency for guys to maybe revert back to what they know and I think it hurt at times,” Specht said. “Maybe that guy is supposed to fill the 'B' gap, but he's not typically asked to do that so he does what he knows and then he's out of position. A lot of the times our guys made plays, but when you're asking guys to play in a system they've never been in you're really rolling the dice.”
Several Team USA members found their way on the IFAF U-19 World Championship All-Tournament team.
On offense, running back Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla.), wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, Texas tight end commit Durham Smythe (Belton, Texas), Michigan offensive line commit Logan Tuley-Tillman (Peoria, Ill./Manual) and Notre Dame commit Hunter Bivin (Owensboro, Ky./Apollo) all received All-Tournament honors.
Defensively, Virginia Tech signee Dakota Jackson (Roanoke, Va./Northside) at defensive end, inside linebacker Eric Beisel (Fenton, Mo./Rockwood Summit), Texas A&M linebacker commit Reggie Chevis (Houston, Texas/Sharpstown) and cornerback Cameron Walker (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) were honored.
Folston puts it together at the end
One of the few bright spots for Team USA on offense against Canada was Tarean Folston. The Top247 running back rushed for a game-high 59 yards on 10 carries. Specht said he sees big things in Folston's future.
Tarean Folston led all rushers with 59 yards in the Gold medal game.
“I talked to a coach of a big-time school while I was down here and the coach told me that he thinks Tarean is the best running back in the state of Florida,” Specht said. “I told him I agree with him. I really think he's going to do great things.”
Folston is considering Auburn, Notre Dame, South Florida, Tennessee and Virginia Tech among others.
Smythe finishes strong
Texas tight end commit Durham Smythe made some big plays for Team USA in the loss to Canada. He had a one-handed snag near the sideline and an 18-yard catch-and-run to extend a second half drive to finish with 33 yards on four catches.
Specht raved about Smythe all week and didn't hold back after the Top247 tight end finished his two weeks in Austin on a high note.
“He's got soft hands, he catches the ball easily and he's being physical at 6-6, 235 and he's only 16 years old,” Specht said. “I think he's got a chance to be special. Most kids think they work hard, but Durham knows what it is to work hard. I think the University of Texas is getting a special football player.”
Smythe will next participate in the Texas state 7-on-7 championships and then Gridiron Kings to close out what's been a busy summer.
More Team USA notes
Dajaun Drennon was pointed out as one of the top prospects on the Team USA roster.
“Those guys are all explosive, they're all athletic and they've all got room to get bigger,” Specht said. “Hunter Bivin looks like a tight end right now. When he's athletic at 6-7, 340 and playing left tackle at Notre Dame, forget about it. I think all three of those kids, because of their bodies and how athletic they are, all have bright futures.”
*****When asked to identify some of the top prospects in the event, Specht said there were several who should be considered top prospects, but he named Bivin, Smythe, Rodney Adams, Pocic, Dajaun Drennon (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek), and Boston College commit Cory Jasudowich (Cheshire, Conn./The Cheshire Academy) by name.
On Drennon specifically, Specht said he's only starting to scratch the surface.
“He's got a great first step and he's very explosive,” Specht said of the 6-foot-4, 234-pound four-star prospect. “He's just a little light right now. I think once he gets to college and they put some weight on him he'll really start to take off.”
Specht said Abbington popped on film when he and the Team USA staff saw the 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect on tape and said he can certainly see him staying at running back, but added that he feels Abbington could also be a hybrid safety/linebacker for the Tigers. Specht said Abeln is smart and has all of the qualities one looks for in a center.