Representing his country
Stratford’s Tanner Weinfurtner to play for the USA Football Under-18 national team
By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — What started out as an opportunity to play at a football camp in Milwaukee has turned into much more for Stratford High School junior Tanner Weinfurtner.
The 6-foot-3, 288-pound offensive lineman has been selected to play on the USA Football Under-18 national team against Canada in the International Bowl series, which will take place Jan. 31 – Feb. 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which is the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Weinfurtner joins a select group of American high school players that will compete against Canada’s U-18 squad on Wednesday, Feb. 3, as part of a series of all-star games. The game, which starts at 7 p.m., will be streamed live on espn3.com.
Weinfurtner went to a nonpadded camp in Milwaukee in early May, and about a month later Weinfurtner said he was informed that he was selected to go to another USA Football camp in late June and early July. A total of 122 players went to Canton, Ohio — home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame — and were split into four teams that competed against each other at the Hall of Fame stadium.
“We were there for eight days, and it was a great atmosphere,” Weinfurtner said of the Canton camp. “We were feeling a lot of camaraderie, and by the end we didn’t care who was on what team. The coaches were really hands-off in our time away from practice, and it was a great time with a bunch of guys that all love football.”
Weinfurtner was one of three boys from Wisconsin at the camp but the only one selected to the final USA Football U-18 team. He and players from the Canton camp — as well as others that were held in Los Angeles; College Station, Texas; and Baltimore — were picked for the roster.
“I got an email that said, ‘We felt you performed well and would like to invite you to play in the International Bowl,’” Weinfurtner said. “It was a great feeling.”
Weinfurtner is battling back from a knee injury he suffered in a game against Edgar midway through this past season.
He said having this opportunity dangling in front of him, as well as his senior season at Stratford next fall, has been great motivation as he has taken on a tough rehab process to get ready for the Feb. 3 game.
“My family was big in supporting me,” Weinfurtner said. “My family, friends, and physical therapist have been pushing me to get healthy.”
Stratford varsity head coach Jason Tubbs said he is certain Weinfurtner will make Stratford proud.
“Tanner is a great person who loves football and will represent Stratford, Wis., and the USA with enormous pride,” Tubbs said. “He continues to work hard for his all-star game as well as his upcoming senior season. He is really looking forward to playing and competing against amazing talent.”
The International Bowl practices and game will be a great opportunity for Weinfurtner to get back on the football field and hopefully show off his talent as he wants to play for a college team.
While no offers have come forth yet, playing at the next level is just another goal out there for the big offensive tackle.
“My goal is to play college football,” Weinfurtner said. “That would be a very humbling opportunity.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.