Churchill’s Mighty Quinn
Quinn Johnston did it all on the field Thursday for the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs varsity football team.
The Grade 11 linebacker/wide receiver had a 20-yard pick six, a 32-yard TD catch and a sack to power the visiting Bulldogs (4-1) to a 32-7 victory over the Westlane Spartans (3-2) in Niagara Region High School Athletic Association senior football action.
Churchill head coach Peter Perron loves having Johnston on his team.
“He is very talented. I don’t want to brag but if he keeps doing what he is doing and his football IQ continues to improve, he is a prospect at the next level.”
Johnston has come back a much different player than the one that started at Churchill as a Grade 9 student.
“He is taller, he is stronger and he continued to work on his fundamentals during COVID times which was a very challenging thing to do,” Perron said. “Now he is playing varsity ball as a first-year senior and man is he stepping it up.”
The 16-year-old didn’t let the pandemic pause get in the way of his football development.
“It was eating the right food, making sure you are getting exercise and doing daily workouts, lifting in the gym a little bit and then just keeping a routine,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said. “If you do it every single day, after a long time it adds up.”
Losing his Grade 10 season to the pandemic wasn’t easy.
“It was very tough but luckily I was able to get out and throw the ball around with my friends and play in some seven-on-seven and five-on-five leagues,” he said. “It was a rough time being off for almost two years and not being able to tackle or be out on full fields. It is a great feeling to be back.”
It is also exhausting to play both offence, defence and special teams.
“Going both ways takes a toll on you but it is the best feeling in the world. You are always in action, you have chances and it’s time to take advantage of your opportunities.”
Starting as a Grade 9 player has played a big role in where Johnston is now as a football player.
“Grade 9 was tough but it was good because I was able to adapt and see how it was playing with seniors,” he said. “I was also able to grow and build my character and strength. Now playing when I am a senior, it is much easier.”
Quinn’s biggest cheerleader is his father, Carr Johnston, who is the loudest and most enthusiastic guy on the sidelines.
“My dad is a huge support. He is my chef and my chauffeur and he always takes care of me.”
Perron credited his defence for chauffeuring the Bulldogs to victory. It held Westlane to 44 net yards of offence and four first downs until a 61-yard Spartans’ drive that ended on Churchill’s one-yard line as time expired.
“Hell yeah. Big time” he said. “They worked hard this week and coach (Scott) Hill worked these guys hard because sometimes they break down. Coach Hill knew what he wanted, he called timeouts and he adjusted at halftime when we needed to.”
Perron was impressed with Westlane’s effort.
“I know the score doesn’t reflect it but they are a tough team and they always play everybody tough, including us,” he said. “My total respect goes to them for everything they’ve done under coaches (Brad) Martin and (Jason) Babony and the players that are there. They played with a lot of emotion.”
Perron liked how his team responded after giving up the first TD.
“The wind was a little bit of a factor for our offence today. We did a little bit of running and a bit of experimentation. We can’t show everything because there are people from other schools in the stands watching us.”
Westlane head coach Babony agreed it was his team’s defence that kept them in the game, holding the Bulldogs to 73 yards of net offence in the first half and keeping the score deadlocked at 7-7.
“It was the same story as against Myer. We couldn’t get the ball moving on O (offence) and we just got tired,” he said. “We held them until the half but we have a lot of two-way kids and they got gassed.”
The Spartans head into next week’s playoffs knowing they need to be better on offence.
“We have to get something going on O,” Babony said. “Obviously we can run the ball but we can’t be a one-trick pony against these teams in the playoffs.”
Bulldogs 32 Spartans 7
BPSN Player of the Game: Churchill’s Quinn Johnston with a 20-yard interception return for a TD, a 32-yard TD catch from Ryan Cormier and a sack
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Johnston, two TDs; five-yard TD run by Justin Savoie; 38-yard TD pass from Cormier to Brady Pupek; sack in end zone for safety by Daniel Ferguson; sack by Owen Cuthbert; two sacks by Mustafa Abdelrahman; fumble recovery by Moses Lougheed.
For the Westlane Spartans: one-yard TD catch by Desean Morris from Chris Pettorossi; 40-yard fumble recovery return and interception by Keenan Aird; interceptions by Michael Grimo and Alex Javier.
Game stats: Net offence: SWC 220, Westlane 105. First downs: SWC 12, Westlane 6. Turnovers: SWC 5, Westlane 2. Penalties: SWC 6 for 60 yards, Westlane 4 for 35 yards.