At 6-foot-6 and still a “junior,” or Grade 11 student by Canadian standards, Ashton MacKinnon is set to stand out in front of top collegiate scouts in Texas later this month.
The giant quarterback is one of six players from the Mount Douglas Rams AAA Subway Bowl championship team to make Team B.C. for a Football University (FBU) tournament in San Antonio, Dec. 30 to Jan. 6.
One of the key elements of the under-18 tournament, which pits Team B.C. against teams from U.S.A. and Europe, is that players are assigned to one position.
The final 36 players were selected following last Friday’s (Dec. 7) one day camp at the B.C. Lions training facility.
“A big part of the challenge will be to prepare in a short period of time for a quality opponent who you are unfamiliar with, and play multiple games within only a few days of one another,” said Rams head coach Mark Townsend, who is going as Team B.C.’s running backs coach and special teams co-ordinator.
“Having said that, everyone is in the same boat and I know it will prove to be a memorable and rewarding experience for players and coaches.”
MacKinnon will share the quarterback duties with Ballenas Whaler star Liam O’Brien. The 6-foot-4, 200 lbs. pivot from Qualicum is this year’s AA player of the year.
Remarkably, four of the six Rams going are in Grade 11. Marcus Davis, B.C.’s AAA player of the year, made the team as a wide receiver, while monster-sized Zach Wilkinson (6-foot-5, 245 lbs.) and Christian Krause (6-foot-4, 320 lbs.) are going as offensive linemen.
Rams seniors Mason Swift, a two-time Subway Bowl MVP, and Brian Dowds, this year’s Big Kahuna scholarship winner, will go as running back and wide receiver, respectively.
From the Belmont Bulldogs, Grade 12 player Brodie Henderson will join Wilkinson and Krause on the offensive line. Interestingly, five of six offensive linemen are coming from the Island, with Brock Mould of Ballenas and Chae-Cody Faickney of the Nanaimo Redmen named as well.
Belmont coach Alexis Sanschagrin is also going as the defensive backs coach.
As for special teams coach Townsend, he’s already picked the punt and kick returners.
Inserting the electric Davis as punt returner is a no-brainer, with Davis and the province’s most devastating running back, Maleek Irons (W.J. Mouatt), lining up deep as kick returners. Davis returned five kicks/punts for touchdowns in the regular season and had a 65-yard punt return in the first quarter of the Subway Bowl.
The FBU International games are held in conjunction with the U.S. Army All-American Games, a well-hyped, televised promotion of the country’s top high schoolers.
Three of the junior Rams players will play for Team Canada in the 15-and-under U.S. Army All-American games; Junior Rams running back Manny Lopez, defensive lineman Byron MacKinnon and offensive lineman Jesse Woollard.
The ultimate goal for the players is to earn notice by NCAA and CIS scouts looking to give out scholarships.