Irwin builds hype with huge season

Trenton Irwin's exploits on the football field have taken him from the Santa Clarita Valley all the way to Texas in the past year, but the recent youth-league champion and national all-star game most valuable player began his journey right here in the Jewel City.

Irwin, a promising wide receiver and safety, honed his skills within the Glendale Bears youth program for seven years, starting at age 5. Still a Glendale resident and currently an eighth-grader at Rosemont Middle School, Irwin joined up with the Santa Clarita Indians of the Pacific Youth Football League two years ago and led the Indians to the PYFL Senior Super Bowl championship this past November.

"Football's a big thing [to me]," Irwin said. "It's fun, it's just an enjoyable thing to do."

Irwin, 15, further made a name for himself among the best youth players in the nation when he competed for the West squad in the Eastbay 2011 Youth All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Sunday and garnered the eight-grade unlimited game's offensive MVP award.

"It felt good, it was cool being offensive MVP," Irwin said of making his mark in the same annual exhibition that, over the years, has featured current NFL stars such as Reggie Bush and Vince Young when they were rising youth stars. "It was just a cool experience."

It was Irwin's second straight selection as a receiver in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl — he played in last year's seventh-grade exhibition — and Trenton's father, Craig, said the selections were the culmination of a long audition process that included compiling extensive highlight reels from game footage and performing well at elite camps and clinics.

Trenton Irwin has participated in camps such as the Top Gun Camp in Orlando and other events conducted by Football University, which co-sponsors the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl. Craig Irwin said his son has also won national awards, including former NFL wideout Andre Rison's Spider-Man Award for the top youth wide receiver.

"It was kind of a whole composite thing," Craig Irwin said. "It sort of took us a long time to get in.

"There's probably four or five kids from California, but only one or two wide receivers."

Competing against and alongside hulking specimens, some listed as large as 6 foot 6 and 260 pounds on the game's official roster, the 5-foot-11 Irwin ended up playing both ways in the West's 32-28 loss when one of the team's starting safeties went down with an injury.

"It was a lot of fun, I got to meet kids from all over the country, the best kids," he said. "Even meeting people from the other team that you didn't like at first. But it was fun just meeting them and hanging out all week and the coaches were great.

"It gets me ready for high school because these guys are real good and they compare pretty good to the high school guys. They said last year out of the 45 kids there, 30 of them started on varsity [as freshmen]."

In a game that featured a dearth of offense on both sides, Irwin ended up getting the offensive MVP nod more for his defensive contributions, which included a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown, one of his team's three defensive scores.

"It was kind of a strange thing, him being offensive MVP," Craig Irwin said. "Their offense didn't do very well.

"I think part of the reason he got offensive MVP was they had no one to give it to. …The offense was all defense."

This season with the Indians, who went 13-0, Irwin played an all-purpose role and had 41 receptions for 540 yards, 39 carries for 485 yards, 17 touchdowns and 1,500 total yards. He also made eight interceptions.

In the PYFL Senior Super Bowl on Nov. 29, Irwin's seven carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns paced the Indians' 43-14 win.

"Trenton is an amazing football player," Indians Coach Deron White said. "He just has a knack for making big plays.

"He's clearly been one of the top youth players to come through the program. What they do at the next level at high school and college obviously depends on their development and their growth and maturity and all that other stuff, but he's such a dedicated hard-working kid that I don't see him dropping off at all."

As for where Trenton will begin his high school career in the fall, the Irwins haven't decided that just yet.

"I don't really know, but I have a lot of options," Trenton Irwin said. "Maybe Cathedral, maybe Hart, maybe Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, Chaminade or Oaks Christian."

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World