Riverview football standout Carlo Buzzatto excited to compete on global stage

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Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | 6:09 PM


Carlo Buzzatto graduates Thursday with the Riverview Class of 2024.

It closes one chapter of his life before he makes the transition to St. Francis (Pa.).

But before he heads to the Loretto campus and joins the Red Flash football team, he will get the chance to represent the United States in international competition.

Buzzatto, whose standout high school career was punctuated by a monster final season, was selected to USA Football’s U20 national team. It will compete at the International Federation of American Football’s World Junior Championships from June 20-30 in Edmonton, Alberta.

Buzzatto said it still hasn’t fully set in that he will get a chance to show off his football skills in such a setting.

“When I first got the phone call and was asked to be a part of the team and if I wanted to do it, it was instant shock,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to say. But I eventually said yes. It was such a big opportunity presented to me. I am just so happy and excited to be a part of it. I wanted to get back to playing football as soon as possible.”

Buzzatto got the word about a week before the WPIAL track and field championship he was a part of May 15 at Slippery Rock University.

He talked with Randy Walters, the coach at rival Leechburg and the running backs coach for Team USA, about what to expect and how everyone can work together to bring home a world title.

“Coach Walters said that he wanted to give me a chance to perform and really show my talents on a different level,” Buzzatto said. “I appreciated that a lot. I don’t personally know him, but I am looking forward to getting to know him and work with him and all the other coaches.”

Walters said having a player of Buzzatto’s abilities on the team strengthens its chances of doing well in the tournament against the other countries: Canada, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Japan and Panama.

The U.S. won the first U20 tournament in 2009 and captured the title again in 2024. It has made the gold-medal game in four of the five previous tournaments. It placed third in 2019 in Mexico City.

Canada owns the other three titles: 2012, 2016 and 2018.

“What Carlo did against us this past year, I wouldn’t want to have that every week,” said Walters, who saw Buzzatto rush for 418 yards and three touchdowns Oct. 14 game at Riverside Park, when the Blue Devils won 29-28.

“He’s a tough kid, and he plays tough. He’s a good runner. I am anxious to see him practice and play. I am looking forward to coaching all the kids and being a part of this team and this tournament.”

Buzzatto started the 2023 football season sharing rushing duties with fellow senior Landon Johnson before Johnson went down with a season-ending injury.

He was the workhorse from there. The 418 yards against Leechburg on 40 carries was a Riverview single-game record.

Buzzatto finished his senior season with 2,070 yards on 210 carries and 17 touchdowns.

He was voted an Eastern Conference first-team all-star and also was selected a first-team all-star by the Valley News Dispatch.

“My goal is to get the gold for the USA, and wherever they want me to play, I will do it,” Buzzatto said. “I had wanted to play football for so long after the season ended. It’s been an itch every day.”

The team is set to meet in an online gathering Thursday, but Buzzatto said he will not be able to join in because of his graduation.

“One of the employees said they will record the meeting, and I will be able to watch it later and catch up with everything,” he said.

Buzzatto will fly to Edmonton next Thursday and meet the other team members in person the next day.

Because his dad served in the military, he already has a passport.

He said that had to be updated in recent weeks.

“I had to get it real quick,” he said.

Buzzatto was a fourth-year member of the track and field team this spring, and he qualified for the WPIAL and PIAA championships.

At WPIALs, he placed fourth in the Class 2A discus (135 feet, 7 inches), which gave him an automatic berth to states. He also was sixth in the long jump (20-10.5) and 11th in the triple jump (40-7.5).

Buzzatto then threw 124-3 to finish 16th in the discus at states at Shippensburg University.

“Track and field this season was a complete blast,” he said. “The people you encounter and the friends you make, it was such an awesome experience. To finish my career at states, it was a real eye-opener to see some of those athletes and what they were able to do. You don’t think someone my size can go out there and throw 185 in the discus. I have been throwing 140s, and I am like, ‘Wow!’”

Buzzatto said he continued to train and work out through the track season, and he feels he’s in good football shape as the tournament approaches.

“I go to the gym almost every day,” he said. “I’ve been trying to gain a little weight back, but I feel I will be able to run the rock pretty well.”

When Buzzatto returns from Canada on July 1, he will have about a month to prepare for his freshman season at St. Francis. Buzzatto will have a packet at his disposal for those final set of workouts before arriving on the Loretto campus.

“I am really looking forward to the opportunities and what I can do to help St. Francis win football games,” he said.

“I am glad they took a shot on me, and I am ready to go to work.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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