Tarean Folston has state championship rings and has played against some quality opposition in high school.
Beginning Saturday, the Cocoa High back will play against some of the best individual high school football talent the nation and the world has to offer.
Folston is training in Austin, Texas, for the IFAF Under-19 World Championship.
Folston is a running back for the United States team in a six-team tournament. The top-seeded U.S. team includes three other Florida seniors-to-be, Florida State commitment Jesus Wilson, a receiver from Miami Columbus; his teammate, running back Lorenzo Woodley; and Florida-bound Rodney Adams, a receiver from Lakewood in St. Petersburg.
After the first three practices, Folston said the biggest difference from the typical high school practice he faces at Cocoa High is the size of the players.
“I’ll be playing against a lot of skilled players. We get a lot of good players at Cocoa, but there’s a lot of size here,” he said.
Folston and his temporary teammates will play against American Samoa at 9 p.m. Saturday. The team could play two more games with a win. The remaining teams are from Austria, Canada, France, Japan, Panama and Sweden.
Each member of the team should get playing time, and that could mean a variety of tasks for Folston.
“I’m practicing at running back,” he said. “When we install a defensive package later this week, I’ll be in at nickel back. I could be a backup returner.”
When August arrives, he’ll be back in Cocoa preparing for another season with the Tigers. After losing in the state semifinal for the first time in his varsity career, Folston said he expects a major effort to get back to Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.
“I don’t like to think ahead, but we’re going to be all right,” he said. “It’s always intense. We lost the last game, so we’re just going to fight hard this season.”