A hometown celebrity returned to Bradford West Gwillimbury for Carrot Fest on Saturday to sign autographs for fans – many of whom have followed his career since he was a youngster playing local soccer and football.
Justin Howell, a Bradford native who attended Bradford District High School before going on to Carleton University in Ottawa, was recently signed as a defensive lineman with the Ottawa Redblacks in the Canadian Football League.
The 21-year-old Howell wears No. 21 and, noted BWG Mayor Rob Keffer, “It’s amazing how quickly he got into the starting lineup.”
Keffer and members of town council called Howell up to the Carrot Fest stage to present him with a certificate of appreciation for his achievements, and an orange Carrot Fest shirt.
The Redblacks started their regular 2018 season on June 21, in a quest to improve on last year’s 8-9-1 record and win the Grey Cup for a second time in three years. So far this season, they have a pair of wins in pre-season play, and five wins and three losses in regular play.
Howell has played in nine of his team’s 10 games – including a 44-21 win over Winnipeg on Aug. 17.
The Redblack’s next game will be Aug. 31 against Montreal.
Howell was all smiles as he signed autographs and chatted with Carrot Fest visitors on Saturday evening. Formerly defensive back for the Carleton Ravens, before being scouted for the CFL, Howell has said he discovered his love of football in Grade 10 in Bradford – and it is a love of the game that has never left him.
Howell also donated an autographed Ottawa Redblacks football, which was won by local resident Matthew Walker.