Saturday, June 15, 2024

South Surrey football player headed to Ottawa for CFC Prospects Game on TSN

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Southridge School’s Andrew Lawson, 17, one of 75 high school athletes selected across Canada

A local minor football player is headed to Ottawa for a big game this week.

South Surrey’s Andrew Lawson, a Grade 11 Southridge School student, was among 74 other high school students across Canada selected to play in this year’s CFC Prospect Game. (CFC) and The Sports Network (TSN) are bringing the top high school football talent in Canada to the national stage for the fourth edition of the game, which takes place at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa on Friday (May 31) at 11:15 a.m. (EST).

The selection process included a cross-country tour visiting 10 cities, featuring a professional combine setting including 40-yard dash, shuttle, vertical and broad jump events.

Born and raised on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, Lawson first started playing minor football in 2020 with the White Rock South Surrey Titans, starting out as a quarterback, before a hip flexor injury sidelined him for several weeks.

“It was actually on the third play of my football career,” he recalled. “I really love the game. … It took awhile for my Mom to actually let me play.”

In late 2022 or early 2023, he started kicking, and things took off from there.

READ ALSO: White Rock South Surrey Titans wrap ‘hugely successful’ minor football season

The way he discovered he might have talent as a kicker/punter started with a friendly competition amongst two friends at school.

“Kicking is kind of something I found out I was good at. I used to be a soccer player,” he explained. “I challenged my friend (who used to be kicker) to a kicking competition at school and I actually beat him by a fair amount, so I thought, ‘Why not try out for the team?’ and my first year went pretty well.”

Lawson, who competed with Team BC U18 Selects last summer as the team’s kicker/punter, was selected as punter – one of two across the entire country – for the CFC Prospects Game, which will air on TSN. He was also selected to play with the U18 Team BC program to represent British Columbia at Football Canada’s National Championship (Canada Cup) later this year.

“I was pretty surprised. I didn’t really see it coming,” Lawson said, of being selected for the CFC Prospects Game. “When the coach told me, I was pretty happy!”

CFL on TSN analyst Duane Forde said that these rosters represent an invitation to Canadians to get to know this country’s future football stars before they become household names, in a release.

“The CFC Prospect Game is all about opportunity. It’s an opportunity for the top high school players in Canada to go head-to-head with their peers from across the country, and it’s an opportunity for Canadian football fans to get a look at the next Jevon Holland, Mathieu Betts, Chase Brown, Brady Oliveira, Josh Palmer, or Nathan Rourke before the rest of the world gets to know who they are,” he said. “For hardcore fans of Canadian football, and fans of Canadians in football, this game is a ‘must see’ event.”

Lawson’s kicking coach, former CFL punter and placekicker Paul McCallum, has been working with Lawson this minor football season.

“I was pleasantly surprised at his natural ability and work ethic,” he remembered, so he agreed to work with him.

“I see a lot of potential in him – his young age, his natural ability … he’s so coachable. I’ve been working with him just under a year. … It shows how far and how fast he’s come along.”

McCallum said it was nice to see Lawson recognized for his efforts.

“He’s very excited! He’s worked very hard,” McCallum said.

“I’m excited to see how far he can go.”

Lawson, who has his sights set on playing football professionally and then moving into sports management, said a lot of the preparation, as with any sport, is mental.

“It’s such mental game – I always make sure I have a positive mindset: ‘I can do this. I’ve done it before, so here’s what I need to do, and here’s what I’m going to do.’ And then I do it.”

He’s looking forward to the game, with his Mom travelling with him and other family and friends cheering him on while they watch on TSN.

“I’m thankful for this opportunity,” Lawson said.

“I can’t wait to get out there and show what I’m capable of. I hope I don’t disappoint people.”

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