#CFCOPC PLAYERS TO WATCH: Team Halton-Peel Minor DE Sweitzer brings enthusiasm

The countdown continues to CanadaFootballChat.com’s Ontario Prospect Challenge (OPC) on the April 29th weekend at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton. In the days leading up to the OPC, CFC will preview the teams and the players participating in the big event.

It takes about 15 hours to drive down from Thunder Bay to Hamilton, but Jett Sweitzer of Team Halton Minors is not going to let distance stop him from reaching the Ontario Prospect Challenge.

Sweitzer first heard about the OPC at his end of the year football banquet for the Thunder Bay Minor Football Association. “I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to challenge myself by trying out for the Minor team against elite players from all across Ontario,” he said.

While he has the opportunity to play against some of the best, young players, Sweitzer also has a chance to work with different coaches, which he said has been the highlight of the OPC so far. “They break down and explain each skill in understandable terms and help me to improve my techniques when performing each skill,” he added.

Sweitzer has been a member of the TBMFA for three years now. He suited up for the peewee Stampeders this past fall. He has also played on the Thunder Bay Knights football team for the last two summers. The Knights have competed against teams in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Standing at 5’8, 185lbs, Sweitzer is currently playing as a defensive end. “I like to break through the offensive line to contain the play in the backfield, to add pressure on the quarterback and to hopefully make a quarterback say or every tackle that comes my way,” he said.

Jett Sweitzer (#53) stands among his teammates. Courtesy of Corey Sweitzer.

Jett Sweitzer (#53) stands among his teammates. Courtesy of Corey Sweitzer.

If he is not playing as a defensive end, Sweitzer said he likes to play anywhere on the defensive line. He has also played all positions on both the offense and defense. “I play wherever and whenever my coaches say they need me to play. I try my very best to succeed in all positions for the success of my team,” he said.

When asked about his football inspirations, it was not odd that Sweitzer listed another defensive end, J.J Watt of the Houston Texans. He also said his father, Cory Sweitzer, who was a football player in high school.

“He always supports me, cheers me on at my games and practices with me to help improve my skills,” Sweitzer said. “My late grandfather, Reino Niemi, was [also] inspiring and was a well-respected football coach for high school students in Thunder Bay.”

Sweitzer also said that his uncle, James Niemi, who was a player for the Thunder Bay Giants (a former Canadian Junior Football League team) and the Thunder Bay Storm (a former Manitoba Football League team).

“When selecting jersey numbers on any sports team, I always try to get my uncle’s former jersey number 53,” Sweitzer said. “I am so happy and excited that I received notice that I was assigned number 53 to wear during the OPC.”

He added that, “I’m looking forward to having my uncle at the game to cheer me on and to see me wearing his former number with pride from the stands in May.”

Sweitzer’s uncle will not be the only fan in the stands during this OPC. “The size of the stadium [Tim Hortons Field] is just enormous when looking at it in pictures,” he said. “It’s going to be so cool when I look up at the stands and see my family watching me and hearing them cheering me on during the game.”

The young defensive end is looking forward to the opportunity to play on the same field as some of the CFL’s stars. “Not too many kids can say they got to do that in their lifetime,” he said. “It’s so great that my family will be able to share in this experience with me.”

Sweitzer plans on taking this enthusiasm with him when he enters the game. “I’m not going to think of it as pressure, rather excitement and anticipation of the game. I’m going to focus my thoughts on the game and give 100% every second that I am on the field,” he said.

Set to graduate high school in 2022, Sweitzer said he would love to play for a university team and one day make it to the CFL or NFL. He is considering McMaster, University of Saskatchewan, University of Western and University of Calgary. However, he said he is open to any opportunity that comes his way.

When the OPC commences, Sweitzer plans on being the best he possible can and leaving everything out on the field. If he is on the defensive line, he said he plans on “making every tackle that comes my way and helping my team get the ball back.” If on the offensive line, he said he wants to “make big blocks and create big holes for my running backs.”

Sweitzer said he also wants to learn as much as he can from the coaches and be a team leader. “Some of my personal goals during the game will be to read each play and anticipate where the ball is going, to foster good communication amongst my team members and to encourage my fellow teammates throughout the game,” he said.

He added that, “The team’s goal is for everyone to focus on each play, to play smart, to play their very best at their position and give 100% in order to be victorious.”

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