Joe Eppele will have a chance on Sunday (Nov. 25) to do what no one from Squamish has ever done before – win the Grey Cup.
Eppele and his Toronto Argonauts teammates will battle the Western Division champion Calgary Stampeders in Toronto on Sunday for the CFL’s biggest prize.
“One down one more to go. Enough said,” Eppele tweeted along with a photo of he and his teammates with the Eastern Division trophy following the Argos’ 27-20 win over Montreal in the Eastern Division final on Sunday (Nov. 18).
Toronto hasn’t won a Grey Cup since 2004 and had a bounce-back year in 2012 after a disappointing 6-12 season in 2011. The Argos finished second in the East during the regular season this year with a record of nine wins and nine losses and then defeated the Edmonton Eskimos 42-26 in the Eastern Division semifinal on Nov. 11.
Eppele, 25, who plays on the offensive line for Toronto, was a part of the 2010 Argos team that made it to the Eastern final before losing to the eventual Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes.
The Brackendale native will become the first Squamolean to suit up in a Grey Cup. Lynn “Lefty” Hendrickson, former B.C. Lion tight end and linebacker and Squamish native, never played on a team that made it to the big game.
The 309-pound Eppele started at guard in the Argos’ first six games of 2012, but was then relegated to a sixth- or seventh-man role on the team’s offensive line for a time. He even started a game at right tackle, but after some injuries to teammates, he has regained his starting guard’s job.
There was even some talk halfway through the season that the Argos might try him as a defensive lineman. He took some snaps there in practice but never played there during a game.
“I’ve played [offensive] guard most of my time in the CFL and that’s good for me,” the third-year player told The Chief on Tuesday (Nov. 20).
Eppele, the former Washington State University standout, said making it to the big game with all the media attention is “still a little surreal.” He said his father, Thomas, attended the Eastern final and that both Thomas and Carol-Ann will be at the Grey Cup.
His family was “ecstatic… beside themselves… can’t believe it,” when asked for their reaction to the Argos reaching the final, he said.
The Argos beat Calgary 39-36 and 22-14 in the teams’ two meetings this season. However, Eppele said the team isn’t taking anyone lightly.
“They run a lot of unorthodox defences, which makes it difficult,” he said. “We’ve played well against them, but you can never underestimate teams in the playoffs in this league. We just have to be prepared and ready to play at our peak.”
So, if the Argos win the Grey Cup, will he bring the trophy home to Squamish for a visit? Eppele, who also has family in the Toronto area, said he’ll try but made no guarantees.
“I’d love to,” he said. “I know it’ll be out in B.C., and if there’s a chance, I hope to bring it up to Squamish. I’m sure the Cup will be out there, but it’s just a matter of working it out with my schedule whether I can be out there when it’s in B.C.”
The Grey Cup, which will be celebrating its 100 birthday this year, takes place on Sunday (Nov. 25) with the game scheduled to kick off at 3 p.m. local time.
For more information on the game, visit www.100thgreycupfestival.ca.