TJ Sloboda will not soon forget playing in a gold medal football game for a national title.
“It was amazing getting to play in a game like that, not many guys are able to do that,” he said during an interview Tuesday.
Sloboda played for Team Alberta in the Football Canada Cup at Moncton, New Brunswick, July 15 to 21.
The team hammered the host New Brunswick team 79-6 in the opener and then defeated Ontario 43-36 in a late game comeback to earn a berth in the gold medal game at Moncton’s Rocky Stone Field.
They faced two-time defending champion Quebec in the final — the third consecutive year teams from the two provinces were matched.
Alberta held a halftime advantage of 12-6 but lost their starting quarterback late in the opening half.
During the second half Quebec made a comeback while Alberta faltered. Quebec won the game 43-12 holding Alberta off the scoreboard.
“It was great, we played a good tournament,” Sloboda said. “I know I personally played a good game against Quebec, we just came up short.”
He was selected for Team Alberta’s U18 squad following a camp in Calgary in mid-May. The team held a mini camp in June in Red Deer. Then while in Moncton they had three days to train before games began.
An offensive lineman, the 6’5” 260 pound Sloboda said while in Moncton they worked together, running plays and doing one-on-one against the defensive line. Between games the team had time for one practice a day.
There were only seven offensive linemen on the team so the players had to be able to play anywhere.
“Our offensive line coach put us on rotation. He would throw us in anywhere as needed.”
A lot of recruiters and scouts from across Canada were in the audience during the games, said Sloboda. “It was a great experience to see how big football is in Canada.” He added, “Eight or nine universities and colleges are interested in me. I don’t know how many are waiting to see how I do this season.”
Asked if he wants to pursue that option, he replied, “I want to continue playing football as long as I can.”
In the meantime he’ll be back at École H. J. Cody High School when classes begin this fall and playing for the Lakers.