IFAF U20 World Junior Championship: USA overwhelms Panama on Day 1

By: Geono Aloisio

The United States opened their quest to wrestle the IFAF U20 World Junior Championship crown from Canada by overwhelming Panama in an 86-12 win in Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

American quarterbacks Aliam Appler and Anthony Luna split time under center, throwing for a combined 267 yards and 24 first downs. Running back Jaedon Alston led the way for the United States on the ground, contributing 24 points and 90 yards on 13 carries in the win.

“I’m proud of where we are right now,” USA head Coach Mike Kelly said after the win. “We’re not taking anything for granted, but we’re really pleased with our first time coming out.”

USA will face either Japan or Australia in the semifinals on Wednesday, kickoff 12pm.

Photo: James Maclennan

In the opening few minutes, USA jumped into a quick lead, scoring on their opening drive from a 22-yard pass by Dutch Fork High School quarterback, Aliam Appler, to Sanford Seminole High School product wide receiver Marvin Brown for six points.

The United States continued to increase its lead over Panama, adding 22 points before the end of the first quarter on rushing touchdowns from Colorado State-Pueblo wide receiver Layton Duncan, Appler and West Liberty University running back Jaedon Alston.

With USA leading 28-0, the two-time gold medalists added another 23 points, stretching their lead to 51-0 at halftime, as wide receivers Oliver Van Dyke, Kamron Johnson and running back Jaedon Alston combined for three touchdowns.

Photo: James Maclennan

Panama, making their first appearance in the tournament since 2012, where they finished eighth, created 99 yards of offense, 61 of which came from running back Leonardo Anderson.

The passing game led the Central American nation on offence. Quarterback Cristian Restrepo tossed for 108 yards in the first half, connecting with wide receiver Juan Pablo Bilbao and running back Francisco Saldivar for Panama’s only touchdowns of the match. Restrepo completed 14 of 28 passes for 145 yards, and one interception.

“It was a tough game,” Panama wide receiver Bilbao said. “We thought that we were going to do better, but we didn’t, and we’ve got some things to work on.”

Panama’s tournament continues on Wednesday, as they face the loser of the Japan versus Australia matchup at 11am local time at Clarke Stadium.