It’s been quite the roller coaster football year for Matt Pastro.
Rebounding from knee and other injuries that sidelined him for the 2013 high school season, the Belmont secondary senior was a force for the shorthanded Bulldogs this fall, lining up both at linebacker and fullback.
A member of the under-15 Team Canada in 2011, Pastro’s dedication and resiliency were rewarded recently when he was one of four Bulldogs named to the under-18 Team B.C. that will play Washington VASA in the Tanoa Bowl Classic Dec. 28 in Auburn, Wash.
The Tanoa Bowl sees high school and youth teams from B.C., Washington and Hawaii play one exhibition game each. For the older players, the day serves as a showcase of their talents to college coaches, plus analysts from Rivals.com and Scout.com, two major U.S.-based recruiting databases.
Pastro, a six-foot-one, 240-pounder who racked up 391 yards rushing as a back and scored six touchdowns, said he hopes to use the upcoming experience to “get better.” While he’s listed as a linebacker for Team B.C., University of Alberta coaches have been showing interest in him as a fullback.
Belmont quarterback Brandon Holland, defensive lineman Kolton Henderson and receiver Edgar Nelson also made the cut.
Bulldogs head coach Alexis Sanschagrin will serve as Team B.C.’s defensive co-ordinator and defensive backs coach.
Holland, a 6-4, 185-pound Grade 12, led B.C. High School Football’s AAA varsity passers with 1,599 yards in six games. He completed a league-high 105 passes in 179 attempts and threw 10 touchdown passes.
A two-way player like virtually all of his Bulldogs teammates – he was also a punter and sometimes returned kicks – he’s excited about the opportunity to play with B.C.’s best high schoolers, in front of college scouts, with potential scholarships on the line.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said, adding of the expected lighter game workload, “I know we’ll definitely have more energy out there.”
Henderson, a 6-2, 240-pound senior who also suited up for the Westshore Rebels for a handful of games this summer, played all of the line positions on both sides of the ball. He’s also looking forward to the new challenge.
“It’ll be good to play against a high level of teams in Washington,” he said, adding the state is very enthusiastic about football.
Nelson, who has also played on the line but excelled as a powerful tight end threat for the Bulldogs, was a late addition to the Team B.C. roster, after it was decided the tournament would use the tight end position.
He said it’ll be interesting and fun to play alongside athletes who he’s played against for years.
For more about the Tanoa Bowl Classic visit playfootball.bc.ca/programs/view/15.