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St. Paul Lion commits to playing football for University of Manitoba

“I’m so thankful of the people around me that pushed me to this point... it makes me appreciate my family, my friends, and everyone a lot more," says Zachary Quinton.
Zachary Quinton (left) says his mother, Cheryl Quinton (right), is a big part of his success.

ST. PAUL – Success deserves to be lauded. And sometimes, that success is the fruit of a failure. 

Zachary Quinton plays football for the St. Paul Lions. He started playing with the Lions when he was in Grade 10 in 2021, where he was named the Rookie of the Year. Alongside four other students, he transferred from St. Mary's Catholic School in Vegreville to St. Paul Regional High School.  

He is now in his Grade 12 year.  

Quinton lives on a farm near Ranfurly and has to commute an hour each direction - every day - to go to school. It was Zachary’s drive to play football that brought him to St. Paul, and a lack of opportunity for him to play closer to home, according to Cheryl Quinton, his mom. 

Like every football player, Zachary wanted to win a trophy. And in 2022, the Lions were very close to winning the Tier IV Alberta Bowl. But it was not enough. The Lions lost by a single point, 21-20, against longtime rivals Drumheller Titans.  

That memory is still vivid in Zachary’s mind, recalling how everyone on the team was sad and disappointed in the outcome.  

Zachary was named the Lions’ Most Valuable Defensive Player at the end of the 2022 season, alongside senior football player Helmon Ndose, who now plays for the University of Manitoba. 

Despite the loss in 2022, Zachary says it was a motivating factor for the Lions to push even harder.  

“We didn’t want that ever again. We want to have a winning program and we want to have this,” said Zachary. And they did. 

In 2023, the Lions left no room for doubt - they defeated the Titans 41-0 to claim the provincial championship for the first time in the football program’s history. 

Zachary was named by both the Wheatland Football League and Lions as the Most Valuable Offensive Player. But according to Zachary, it was a team effort, and he praised his fellow teammates and the coaches who worked hard throughout the year. 

“From the start of the year to the end of the year, there’s a big difference in these players. You could see it in their attitude. Their skills. Everything. The coaches worked so hard... and I think it paid off,” he said. 

The football team is akin to a family, said Zachary. So, when asked if there was any advice that he could pass on to the Lions’ upcoming players, he says it would be to, “Fight for your family,” and listen to the coaches. 

Football Scholarship 

After his high school graduation, Zachary will move on to play for the Manitoba Bisons, having secured a football scholarship with the University of Manitoba. He is the second St. Paul Lions’ player to do this, following Ndose’s commitment last year at the same university. 

So, while Zachary may be nervous, he will have a familiar face to help him figure things out. 

Ndose and Zachary have been keeping in touch, and “I’ve met a bit of his teammates,” said Zachary. “It’s going to be difficult at the start for sure, and I’m glad to have someone down there that has kind of lived through it and help me out... it makes it a lot more enjoyable.” 

Zachary also acknowledges that the skill-level and demand of university football will be higher. School will also be more challenging.  

“I’ve had a pretty nice high school career, but school is going to be a step up.” 

But, he remains confident. 


As the topic of moving comes up, Zachary shifts in his seat, placing his gaze upon his mother. He asked how she first dealt with moving away from her home and family to the City of Lethbridge when she was younger. 

“It’s just a little scary because it’s coming up... you have to make this big change in your life,” said Zachary. He admits he may need advice. 

Cheryl’s lips curved into a light smile. She said she also grew up on a farm before moving to the city. “One of the things that helped me through different challenges,” such as homesickness, “is my faith... And being able to lean on my parents and family members from a distance.” 

With a reassuring voice, she told her son they will keep in touch. 

“You’ve overcome hard things in the past and you will overcome hard things in the future.” 

Cheryl also had questions for her son, asking about his sources of inspiration, and what type of person he wants to become.  

“You said you want to be a schoolteacher eventually?” she asked. 

Zachary affirmed, mentioning names like Lions’ head coach and St. Paul Regional High School principal Mark Tichkowsky, as well as high school teacher Brandon Strocki. 

Strocki coaches many sports at the high school, in addition to being a teacher, and is involved in Baseball Alberta. 

“I think I’d love to do something like that. So, I could stay around the game and impact as many people as I could,” said Zachary. 

He then thanked all his friends, teammates, coaches, teachers, and his family for helping him succeed.  

“They’ve been a blessing to my life, and they’ve helped me to this new chapter,” he said. “I’m so thankful of the people around me that pushed me to this point... it makes me appreciate my family, my friends, and everyone a lot more.” 

Mario Cabradilla

About the Author: Mario Cabradilla

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