Defending champions, Team Canada will open the 2018 IFAF U19 World Championships in Mexico City against Team Sweden, Saturday, July 14.
Canada is playing in its fifth World Junior Championship tournament and has won the title twice, in 2012 and again in 2016, beating the United States in the gold medal final both times. Canada reached the final in 2009 and 2014 but lost both of those games, again to Team USA.
This is the first time Sweden has competed in this tournament since 2012 when they finished ninth. They played Canada in the opening game that year as well losing 43-0. After losing to France in the consolation round, Team Sweden defeated Panama 54-20.
In the inaugural tournament in 2009, Sweden lost to Mexico and then defeated France before losing to Germany to finish eighth.
Canada qualified for the tournament as defending champions while Sweden’s route took them through wins over Finland and Denmark in 2017.
Many members of Team Canada’s roster stem from the U18 team that defeated the United States 44-26 in International Bowl IX earlier this year. Jalen Philpot was named MVP of the game after hauling in four passes for 115 yards and one touchdown. Along with his twin brother Tyson, who also scored a touchdown in that game, he is a formidable threat for Canada.
Sweden enter the game with a pair of excellent quarterbacks and an explosive threat of their own in Michael Cox Jr. Cox was the hero of the 2017 tournament and the Florida native presents a threat whether he plays receiver or quarterback. The likely starting quarterback, Dennis Isberg, was among the fastest players at Team Sweden’s recent training camp but is more of a drop back passer.
Nevertheless, it will be Canada’s speed that will put Team Sweden to the test. The Swedes will have to find a way to stay close early on so as not to lose confidence.