International athletic competition in sports such as basketball and soccer are well known, but international football is picking up steam and one Richmond Hill player will get to be a part of it.
Jake Jablonski, a sophomore defensive back for the Wildcats, has been chosen to play on the U17 Select Team in the International Bowl on Jan. 16 against a team from Canada. Teams from the U.S., Canada and Japan will compete at various age levels over two days.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience, to play for your country and to also play in Dallas,” Jablonski said.
The game isn’t just in Dallas though, it’s at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
“Getting to tour the place will be really cool,” he said. “And playing in the game could help with recruiting.”
Former participants include Todd Gurley, Devin Funchess and Jameis Winston.
Jablonski, who has been playing football since he moved to Richmond Hill in elementary school, said he’d like to play in college and pursue a career in sports medicine.
“I just need to keep working, keep lifting and put on weight,” he said. “And get more sound at what I can do.”
To earn the invite to Dallas, Jablonski attended a regional camp in Atlanta last spring, then travelled to Canton, Ohio, over the summer.
Wildcats Coach Matt LeZotte said Jablonski’s future is bright.
“He’s a total program guy,” LeZotte said. “He’s always ready to work, he does whatever we ask of him and he never misses an opportunity to get better.”
LeZotte said Jablonski will continue to improve as he matures.
“He’s still young, but he’s very fundamentally sound,” he said. “He’s going to get stronger and faster.”
So far this season, Jablonski has mainly seen time on special teams for the 4-0 Wildcats.
“Up until this year I’ve always played linebacker, but the coaches switched me to safety and I love it,” he said. “We’re off to a strong start this year and we just need to keep getting better for region play.”
Richmond Hill hosts South Effingham tonight at 7:30 p.m. before finishing the season with four consecutive Region 2-AAAAAA games.
Jablonski and the rest of the International Bowl participants are scheduled to arrive in Dallas Jan. 12, where the teams will have several days of practices and meetings, along with competitions and dinners.
The games will be televised on EPSN3 with times to be announced.