June 26, 2024

From Receiver to D-Line, Archibald’s Eventful Path To Football

You might have heard it from the BC Lions 1st and Now podcast last week. Josh Archibald’s blooming start to his 2024 season didn’t happen overnight.

He didn’t start playing football until his last year of high school. Then a conversation with teacher and coach, Mike Maurovich changed everything.

“I played basketball and soccer until I was 16. I started playing sports at a very young age. My mom put me in all sorts of sports like swimming and skiing. I was like a Swiss army knife growing up but never took a real interest in football until Mr. Maurovich convinced me,” Archibald recalled.

“All my friends were playing football in their last year of high school, I was geared towards football but wasn’t committed to it. Then Mr. Maurovich told me my athleticism would translate to football. The first time I played, I was a receiver. I was like, ‘Holy moly,’ I fell in love with it since.”

Growing up in Montreal, most students had an important decision to make on which CEGEP schools they wanted to attend before enrolling in university.

Archibald’s mom values education, therefore he was eyeing Marianopolis College and Dawson College, but the two schools did not obtain a football team.

While he was supposed to go to CEGEP, Mr. Maurovich connected Archibald to Upper Canada College [UCC], a prep school in Toronto.

“I was the last person to be admitted to UCC. I actually got the call coming out of a basketball game. My mom called crying and told me I got into prep school,” Archibald recalled.

The reason for wanting to be a receiver was simple for Archibald — to receive all the glory when you catch the game-winning touchdown.

During Archibald’s first year at UCC, he dropped an easy ball. While feeling slightly discouraged after the one play, coach David Brown at UCC didn’t destroy his dream of being a receiver but converted him into a two-way player.

“A receiver catching a touchdown is like a fairy tale story. But when I dropped an easy ball, coach Brown came to me and said, ‘How about playing two ways?’ In prep school, many players played two ways, I got my first taste as a defensive end shortly after that,” Archibald added.

As soon as he got his first sack, the adrenaline he felt from tackling opened a new door for him.

Archibald became a team captain in his second year at UCC as a receiver and defensive end. When he joined McGill University in 2017, that’s when Archibald fully accepted his calling as a defensive end, showcasing his athleticism on the edge.

Following five years at McGill University, Archibald was selected in the third round by the Lions in 2022.

Photo by David Dermer

Playing in his third CFL season in 2024, Archibald is off to a hot start with four defensive tackles, one special teams tackle and recorded his first CFL sack in Week 1 against Toronto and another sack in the following week against Calgary.

Archibald said his progress didn’t occur overnight. Spending this offseason in B.C. challenged him to be more disciplined.

“Honestly, it was the fact that I was alone. I had nobody to tell me I had to come to the gym for a certain time because, in Montreal, we have group sessions. I had to keep myself accountable to make sure I was doing the right thing in the offseason. Being alone helped me because I wasn’t relying on other people,” he added.

“I’m nowhere I want to be yet. Obviously, there’s a consistent growth since my first year. It’s honestly trying to adapt and soak in as much information as I can. Try not to let the ego get in the way like I’m better than this or I already know this. I still have so much work to do.”

Additionally, Archibald was one of the players involved with the Indigenous Youth Program [IYP] this offseason — teaching high school students the game through flag football. Considering he is also a late bloomer in football, IYP has allowed him to share similar experiences with the youths.

“I started football extremely late. These kids felt the same way as I did when I was 16 when I started football. Just seeing them having fun, smiling and making new friends is really fulfilling for me because I was once in that position,” he added.