Rep­re­sent­ing USA Foot­ball

Wal­dorf res­i­dent Dray­ton plays in In­ter­na­tional Bowl in Dal­las

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TAMMY SHOWAL­TER tshowal­ter@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @tam­lyn­nusa

St. Mary’s Ryken High School sopho­more de­fen­sive back Michael Dray­ton Jr., a Wal­dorf res­i­dent, had the chance of a life­time and he cher­ished ev­ery minute of it.

Dray­ton was cho­sen to play in the USA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s In­ter­na­tional Bowl VIII at AT&T Sta- dium, home of the Dal­las Cow­boys, in Ar­ling­ton, Texas, as its 17-and-Un­der USA team took on Ja- pan on Jan. 16.

Dray­ton, who has been play­ing foot­ball since he was 9 years old, went to a foot­ball camp that was held at Tow­son Univer- sity where he caught the eye of some of the USA Foot­ball coaches.

“I was re­ally ag­gres­sive with my cor­ner back play when I was at the camp,” Dray­ton said. “It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence for me and a con­fi­dence builder. I got to bond with the Ja­panese play­ers and my team- mates and get a chance to play foot­ball. The ex­pe­ri­ence gave me more confi- dence in my­self that I can now play at a higher level, the next level.”

Dray­ton gave credit to all of his foot­ball coaches along the way who have mo­ti­vated him to be the player he is now with a vi- sion for the fu­ture.

“My strength coach Ricky Trip­plet and my cor­ner­back coach Nana An­sah and the en­tire St. Mary’s Ryken coach­ing staff played a huge part of my suc­cess on the foot- ball field,” he said.

Dray­ton is hop­ing that more doors will now open for him since play­ing in the In­ter­na­tional Bowl VIII.

“I want to be able to play foot­ball for the rest of my life,” Dray­ton said.

Dray­ton plays of­fense and de­fense but prefers de­fense and con­tact.

Dray­ton’s fa­ther, Michael Dray­ton Sr. trav­eled with his son to Texas and said the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence was re­ward­ing.

“It was very well orga- nized,” Dray­ton Sr. said. “It was great to see the kids get to play against kids from an­other coun­try and get them into their cul­ture. The cul­ture was great; ev- ery­thing was very struc- tured. Dal­las sta­dium, AT&T Sta­dium, is great.

“It was a great over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. I think he got more con­fi­dence play­ing with kids that are more ex­pe­ri­enced and that I’m sure have col­lege of­fers. Just com­pet­ing with them and show­ing them that he can play with them.”

Dray­ton Sr. said the ex­pe­ri­ence pro­pelled his son to live up to the hype.

“I think it gave him the ex­tra boost to say, ‘Yes I am as good as they say I am’.”

The USA team, coached by Gabe In­fante, who is the head coach at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadel­phia, de­feated Ja­pan 44-7. The USA team scored 35 unan­swered points in the first half.

“We had scrim­maged the day prior and Ja­pan looked real good, but the USA team de­mol­ished them,” Dray­ton Sr. said. “They were great peo­ple and the kids re­ally en­joyed the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

St. Mary’s Ryken sopho­more Michael Dray­ton Jr., a Wal­dorf res­i­dent, lines up against Ja­pan in the In­ter­na­tional Bowl VIII, which was played at AT&T Sta­dium in Ar­ling­ton, Texas, on Jan. 16. Dray­ton and the 17-and-Un­der USA Foot­ball team won 44-7.

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