When it comes to football, it was a hard couple of years for Matt Teigland. As a junior, he broke his collarbone – twice. As a senior, it was the first season for Academy Force – which is a combination of six different schools. With half the team barely knowing each other, returning just a handful of players that started last season and because they were coming from different systems the team struggled to win only one game. Teigland made the best of it; his experiences helped propel him into an opportunity to continue his football career – something he almost decided not to do.
Teigland had dealt with injuries before but not one that robbed him of an entire football season.
“I broke my collarbone in the summer (before junior year), and I was trying to rush back because I was eager to play,” Teigland recalled. “In the second game of the season, I broke the same bone again on my first touch of the game. I had surgery after that.”
Teigland and the sport of football were not on favorable terms with each other.
“For a long time after that, I wanted nothing to do with football. I had invested so much time in it, and I couldn't participate. As things carried on, I looked at myself and thought what value am I going to have if I just sit out? Is it going to be worth it? When I asked myself that question, I realized football was something I just like doing. When it is something you like doing, no matter how much it sucks, I still realized I had opportunities in front of me. I went into my senior season thinking whatever is going to happen is going to happen, but I am not going to stop. I owed that to myself.”
As a sophomore Teigland was a running back and after the lost year on the field as a junior he transitioned to slot receiver.
“It worked out well,” Teigland said. “I have a lot of those running back talents of being able to make things happen after the catch and being able to block. Then you put that into a receiver position where people are less physical, and there is more open space, and I could make a lot happen with short routes. There was more isolation. I felt I had a really good year – unfortunately for the team it didn't go the way we wanted it to go.”
Teigland feels his strength as a receiver was his speed but he had an extensive role in the offense – leading to a more well-rounded football player.
“I actually played lead blocker for our running plays. I would line up at wing, and I would pull up the hole as a guard would,” the senior said. “I was able to make some run game happen by throwing some key blocks and sticking my nose in places even though I was undersized. I feel like I was aggressive enough to do it.”
The 5'11″ 175-pound pulling wing also started on the defensive side of the ball.
“I am more of a pass coverage guy, but I didn't do that much this year because we needed to get pressure on the quarterback to help our young secondary,” the two-way player said. “I ended up blitzing a lot. I consider myself a free safety but am aggressive enough to come up and make hits. This year I just had to play a bigger role as far as getting to the quarterback.”
This winter Teigland is playing basketball, but he will not be running track.
“For three seasons straight, I ran the 100-meters in track, and for three seasons straight I pulled my hamstring right before the section meet. I've got college football coming up, so I want to make sure I am healthy going into that summer.”
Teigland recently committed to Bethel and is expecting to play defensive back for the Royals.
“I debated not even playing football in college because of all my injuries,” NFN's 189th ranked senior admitted. “Once I started seriously looking at Bethel I realized it was the place I had to be.”
To have success for the Royals, Teigland has a specific area he is looking to improve.
“I need to be able to look at a play and know exactly what is going to happen,” Teigland – who attends St. Croix Prep in Stillwater – said. “I watch a lot of film, but I want to be smarter about the game in general.”
Teigland was recruited mainly as a defensive player, but receiver is still an option.
“It depends on how the recruiting class flushes out, but Bethel runs a 4-2-5 with five defensive backs, so they want a lot of fast, aggressive players. I think I will find myself in the secondary at some point.”
Teigland had some Division II interest, but Bethel was in on Teigland early.
“The (Bethel) coaches started with me early on before my senior year started and built a strong relationship with me. It felt like they wanted me there not only as a player but more as a person.”
The Royals never gave up on Teigland; even when he was hurt and even as he was considering ending his football career.