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ALA-Gilbert North football player to play in international game

Posted 3/13/23

Caleb Garrison, a standout athlete at American Leadership Academy-Gilbert North in Gilbert has been chosen to represent the United States as part of the American Football Worldwide Elite …

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ALA-Gilbert North football player to play in international game


Caleb Garrison, a standout athlete at American Leadership Academy-Gilbert North in Gilbert has been chosen to represent the United States as part of the American Football Worldwide Elite team.

Garrison, a 6-3, 250-pound defensive lineman and offensive tackle, will be one of 30 players on the high school senior select team squad.

The American Football Worldwide Elite Team will travel to Italy for a week of educational touring, serving as ambassadors for American football and culminating the week participating in an international game against a national 20U American Football team representing Italy. The game will take place at Vigorelli Stadium, in Milan, on Saturday April 8.

American Football Worldwide’s Elite Team builds its roster from scouting, recommendations and nominations provided by high school coaches. The roster has representation from every region of the United States and this year will have student-athletes from 13 different states and the District of Columbia.

Team members and staff will all gather for the first time in Rome on April 2. During the week, the team will practice daily, typically in the early morning, with the remainder of the day invested in educational touring of many of the historical and cultural highlights of Italy.

Parents and family members will also join the tour party for the experience.

The team and tour party will travel from Rome in central Italy to the tip of Lake Como just north of Milan.

During the week the players will tour many of the historical landmarks of Italy, including the Roman Coliseum and Forum, the piazzas of Rome, Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, Sienna, Florence, Cinque Terra, Lake Como, and Milan.

“Observing these young men grow from the education that international travel uniquely provides will once again be the most rewarding aspect of the tour," AFW President Jim Barnes said in a release. "Each day will hold special life-expanding experiences for these young men, all of whom demonstrate that they possess a grander vision for their future. In so many respects, this is a tremendous experience for a student to have before going on to the collegiate level.”

Garrison helped lead the Eagles to a 12-2 record his senior year and to the Arizona Class 4A championship. He was a first team all-region selection two years in a row and was first team all-state as a senior.

He was named his team’s “Best Lineman” and four times during the year he was selected as “Player of the Game”.

 The team will look to come together in one week’s time, learning new terminology and football schemes as well as putting together a game plan for their Italian hosts.

“Meeting one another for the first time and installing a well-coordinated game plan in all phases of football in less than a week will be a significant challenge,”  Barnes sad. “However, from the scouting and research we have done, our staff believes there is excellent talent on this roster, and we are very excited about the potential for this team. To culminate their week playing a game of American football at the international level representing the USA will be an unforgettable thrill.”

This game will be the 10th contest between AFW Elite and American football teams in Europe. In March of 2013 and 2014 AFW Elite traveled to France for a similar educational and cultural tour defeating the French national 19U team on two occasions.

From 2015 through 2019, AFW Elite team accepted invitations from the Italian Federation of American Football, earning victories each year over their Italian national 19U team.

In 2017 and 2018 American Football Worldwide also fielded two teams, including a second Elite team that toured Ireland and competed with the Irish National 20U team. Those games were historical in that they were the first and only contests by 20U Irish players against competition from outside of Ireland.

Set to return with teams to Italy and Spain in 2020, AFW Elite was sidelined by the pandemic.