Canada three-peat in IFAF U20 World Junior Championship win over Japan

Canada secured an unprecedented threepeat at the 2024 IFAF U20 World Junior Championships in Edmonton with a 20-9 victory over Japan.

Both defenses stifled the potent passing and rushing attacks that had lit up the tournament’s earlier rounds with the game close until Canada scored a fourth quarter touchdown and field goal to extend a precarious 10-3 lead.

The silver medal heads to Asia for the first time as Japan improved on its best-ever previous finish of third place.

“After the first practice this squad held, we knew we had something special and we built a championship culture and all these kids really executed what we wanted to do,” said Canada head coach Warren Craney.

“We felt really good on defense, and it was a case of bend but don’t break because we knew we couldn’t stop them completely. We got a couple of key plays on first down that became advantageous for us and we were running the ball so well that we decided to just run the clock.”

Japan put the first points on the board with a 44-yard field goal by Yudai Naka and were pressing to increase their lead when Benjamin Blaise intercepted Nobuaki Kobayashi in what was an early turning point.

Leonard Lemay drove the ball into the red zone on the ground then with the opening play of the second period quarterback Pepe Gonzalez scrambled and tossed a short pass to Nathan Carignan for a touchdown and a 7-3 Canada lead.

Those four points still separated the teams at halftime and Canada edged ahead through a 35-yard field goal by Jayden Rice to lead 10-3

Canada’s game MVP Isaac Pepin came up with a critical interception to as Japan mustered a comeback attempt and defenses continued to clamp down on offenses as the second half progressed.

After Japan turned ball over inside their own red zone with little choice but to go for it on fourth down, Canada took over and Mika Lapostolle raced into the end zone untouched for touchdown and an unassailable 20-3 lead.

Japan refused to concede inside the final two minutes and drove steadily downfield for Kobayashi to connect with Yosei Takahashi for a touchdown, but the extra point was missed, and Canada was able to run down the clock.

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North