Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A working holiday Local footballers dream big

Quartet heading to Texas for invitation-only All-American Bowl

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Their season ended in October but four members of the St. Vital Mustangs just won't take "no more" for an answer.

That's because 11-year-old running back Nicolas Peters and linebacker Brody Williams, offensive lineman Wyatt Edmonds and defensive back Jake Richardson, all 13, have an invite for a pretty important bonus week of football.

The four attended an offence-defence summer camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., and impressed coaches and evaluators enough to earn all-American honours in their age group and at their positions.

With that came a ticket to the invitation-only Offence-Defence All-American Bowl Week, which starts Boxing Day in Houston.

It's an intense two days of two-a-day practices and then two days of games, one of which will be in Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans.

It's the fourth year for the Bowl Week, which also includes a high school division, a Can-Am division and a division for high school seniors.

The four Manitobans, Peters, Williams, Edmonds and Richardson are competing in the 28-team youth section, which includes more than 500 players and is split into age-specific groups between 7 and 14.

For Williams, Edmonds and Richardson, it will be the second straight year on the road at football camps at Christmas time.

That trio attended the the All-American Bowl week in the Dallas area, with the focal point a game for the young players at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

"That big Jumbotron in the stadium, it's like 60 or 80 or yards , and it's all HD," Edmonds said about the Dallas experience. "And the seats, they go as high as your eye can see. If you're on the field and looking up at the seats, you can barely tell there are people at the top."

Edmonds said last year's camp has helped him prepare a lot better for this year's.

"I learned a lot last year down there," Edmonds said. "You have adjust your play style because it's with one less person (on the field). you almost have to do a little more so you do better. It's prepared me because I know how good everybody is now."

Richardson said last year's trip to Dallas was an eye-opener for a young football player and fan.

"What a great experience, playing on the same field as Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware," Richardson said. "That was just insane. Every time I watch football and the Cowboys now, it's just amazing to me."

Richardson, too, said the NFL stadium was beyond big.

"That Jumbotron, just ginormous," he said. "Really, really, really big."

Mark Richardson, Jake's father and a Mustangs assistant coach, said his family will make the trip part vacation, part football.

"I'd guess it'll be all business for Jake," Richardson said. "It's going to be hard to get my son to crack a smile until he knows he'll be invited to the (camp's) all-star game."

They plan to leave later in the week and hope to get to Houston in time for the NFL game between the Texans and Minnesota on Sunday.

Richardson said the camps' development potential for young players is well worth the effort, and the exposure to other players, high-level coaching and even scouts and recruiters is exceptional experience.

"I'm not going to discourage my son from a dream," he said. "My dream for him as a dad is to help him grow as a young man... And I'm pretty sure he wants to become the best football player he can."

And what would the trip be without a little fun.

"I loved spending that time (in Texas) last year, we had a lot of fun," Edmonds added. "And I know they don't get snow down there, so it'll be pretty warm and that's what I'm looking forward to."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 19, 2012 C4

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