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Stettler football alum optimistic with Grey Cup birth on the line

Churchill to play in second CFL playoff
Theren Churchill of Stettler will make his second CFL playoff appearance on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Toronto Argonauts)

Stettler’s Theren Churchill is set for a chance at Canadian football supremacy.

The 28-year-old offensive lineman suited up for the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday in the CFL’s East Division Final and with a 37-24 win over the Montreal Alouettes, the Argos punched a ticket to the Grey Cup Final.

Churchill said prior to Sunday’s game, the team was hoping to avenge last year’s loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the east final.

“I think we have a much better chance than we did last year and we’re more confident,” Churchill said prior to the game Sunday.

“At this point in the year, everyone is good. You made it this far for a reason and both teams are really good. You’ve had a full season to prepare and get yourself to this point so it should be a good game.”

Churchill, who was drafted by Toronto ninth overall in the 2020 CFL Draft, played in just his second playoff game. He said the intensity level of both off and on-field preparation ramps up this time of the year.

“This time of the year you’ve got to be a lot more focused on the goal at hand. With football, you don’t have a best of five or a best of seven series like some other sports do it’s one game and that’s it,” Churchill added.

He’s feeling a lot more comfortable in his second season on the gridiron. His rookie season he said as you would expect was a big change from playing for the University of Regina Rams, where he played from 2017 to 2019. It was faster paced and had to figure out how to get into a professional mentality to take on the schedule.

He began his football journey with the Stettler Wildcats and once he graduated played four seasons of junior football with the Edmonton Huskies before playing in Regina. Once he was drafted in 2020 he missed the whole season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and began his first professional season in 2019.

The Stettler Wildcats completed an undefeated season beating the Hunting Hills Lightning in the league final before they headed to provincials. Churchill said he’s been following the team closely and has been impressed.

“I’ve been really proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish and I wish them nothing but the best,” he said.

“It’s been 11 years since the provincial championship that I was lucky enough to be a part of and I hope that those guys get a crack at another championship.”

He played nine years through Stettler minor football including three with the Wildcats and Churchill said some of his closest friends he met while playing in the program. They often still talk about that championship year and have a ring and plenty of memories to look back on for the rest of their lives.

Churchill’s road to the CFL is unique in that he didn’t go to play in university right away. Instead, he played junior football and worked his way up and got a late start at the university level but he didn’t let that stop him.

“That benefitted me in a way. It definitely did take a little bit longer so you’ve got to be a little more patient whereas some other guys were able to get four years of university and they’re 22 when they get drafted. It took me until I was 25 to get drafted and I would have been 26 when I played my first professional season,” he explained.

“Keep working hard and don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of speed bumps along the way. You’ve just got to keep chopping at it year after year… Keep at it and good things will eventually come when you get that call you’ve been drafted it’s definitely worth it.”

The Agros will square off with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup on Sunday in Regina.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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