January 22nd, 2021

Coyote heading east

By Woodard, Dale on January 28, 2020.

Herald photo by Ian Martens Chinook Coyotes running back and linebacker Chase Kehler has signed a letter of intent to play at St. Francis Xavier University this fall. @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald


The furthest east in Canada Chase Kehler has been so far is one province over.

The next step in his football career is going to take the running back and linebacker for the Chinook Coyotes a little further than that.

On Monday at Chinook High School – with his parents, teammates and coaches in tow – Kehler put the pen to paper and signed his letter of intent to play U Sports Football at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia this fall.

Now, the multi-faceted, 18-year-old athlete takes his talents way further east than he’s been before.

“Never past Saskatchewan for me,” said Kehler with a chuckle.

“I’ve talked to a few people who go there, my parents know a few people. There was an athlete, Liam Hyland, he went there, playing football and going to university there.”

Thanks to a comprehensive video highlight package that caught the St. FX coaching staff’s attention, so will Kehler.

“I sent my film to the St. FX coaches,” he said. “I sent it everywhere hoping a team would look for me. They were really interested in me and the feeling was mutual. They wanted me and I wanted to go there. It happened and it worked out perfect. They said I look like their kind of player. I fit their team mantra. I was a captain in high school, won lots of awards and I’m an athlete and that’s something they really like.”

Coyotes head coach Nick Straat has gotten a first-hand glimpse of that award-winning talent.

“Chase has been a leader on our team for three years now. He’s a three-time MVP for our program and probably one of the hardest-working players I’ve ever coached. He has really good character as well.

“He was a great player in Grade 10, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He really took control this year and was incredibly dominant on the defensive side. We got to use him in multiple ways based on his progression this year. He’s a great tackler with great instincts.”

After lining up at running back and linebacker with the Coyotes, Kehler said his university team has him slotted for safety.

He’s ready for that challenge as well.

“I’m excited for it, make some big hits. We’ll see how it goes,” said Kehler, who hasn’t made the trip east to his new school yet, but said he hopes to this spring.

But Monday afternoon was about sharing the moment with his current teammates as a number of Coyotes piled into the school’s weight room for the official signing, joining Kehler and Straat for a group photo session.

“They’re really excited for me,” said Kehler, who will study human kinetics at St. Francis Xavier.

“At Chinook we haven’t had the best football program in the past years and it shows if you work hard, go to the gym and give it your best you can do this.”

The message was received Monday afternoon.

“I think our program has been building for the past few years, so it’s great to see some guys have success after high school as well,” said Straat.

“I think that sends a big message to our players right now that if you put in the time and the work then good things can happen.”

In fact, a few more Coyotes grad may be moving onto post-secondary football.

“It’s possible,” said Straat. “They’re in the process right now of going through some recruitment things and getting invited to spring camps and things like that.”

The Coyotes coach there hasn’t been any contact between himself and the St. Francis Xavier coaching staff.

Nowadays, recruiting is simply done via cyber space.

“Chase has done his work the last year-and-a-half in highlight taping himself and putting out recruitment forms and going to combines. So his numbers of what he can do physically get out there and then coaches get to see film right away.”

As the Coyotes continues to trend upward, Kehler leaves with a Southern Alberta High School Football League title.

It also stands out as his high school highlight.

“Probably my biggest highlight of Chinook football was winning the Division B championship this year,” said Kehler. “In Grade 10 was a rough year and it Grade 11 we were working our way up and the to cap it all off with a championship was a good way to go.”

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