GREAT FALLS — With the 76th Montana East-West Shrine Game approaching, players and coaches are getting more excited. But possibly no one is more excited than Matteo Civitarese.
Civitarese comes to the Shrine Game from Notre Dame High School in Calgary, Alberta, and was selected as one of the traditional two Canadians to play in this year's contest. He will suit up for the East squad.
“I’m truly excited to be here. Being the only Canadian on this team I feel like I have a lot to prove out here,” said Civitarese. “It’s just a good experience, getting better against people I’ve never played against and I’m truly excited to be here.”
As much as it is about having fun for Civitarese, he also feels that he is representing something bigger.
“I take pride in that. It means a lot representing my high school, my city, my province, and even Canada. It’s a huge honor to me and my family,” he said.
Coming from a country where they play 12-man football, Civitarese played in the Canada Cup and made a big impact for Team Alberta. He totaled over 250 all-purpose yards and finished with three touchdowns. The big stage is not new to him and he has set the bar high for himself entering Saturday’s game.
“I’m expecting to make plays for sure. I’ve been in high competitive games before, participated in the Canada Cup and was an impact player there so I expect to make some plays come Saturday,” he said.
The atmosphere of the Shrine Game has been talked about a lot and the talks have given him much to look forward to. In a matter of days it will no longer be the talks, but instead it’ll be the real deal for Civitarese and all the other players.