Clinching title not Oredigger focus

Montana Tech can, for all intents and purposes, clinch the Frontier Conference football title with win over Montana Western Saturday at Alumni Coliseum.

A win would put the No. 7 Orediggers at 8-1, clinching at least a tie for the title. Tech also controls the tiebreaking scenario and the inside track to the league’s automatic playoff spot.

The Orediggers, though, are having none of that talk leading up to Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff.

“I think we’ll talk about it after the game,” Oredigger coach Chuck Morrell said. “It’s not something that we talk about leading up to the game.”

If Tech wins, they could do no worse than tie Carroll College and Southern Oregon. Tech and Southern hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints, so Carroll needs some serious help to win the title.

If Tech beats Western, Southern would need to beat Tech on Nov. 10 to force a tie. The second tiebreaker is fewest points allowed. Tech has allowed 160 points this season, while the Raiders have given up 262.

If Southern Oregon is to win the tiebreaker over an eight-win Oredigger team, the Raiders would have beat Tech by triple digits in Ashland, Ore.

That all points to Tech being able to win the Frontier title — if not officially — with a victory Saturday.

The Orediggers, though, are only focusing on Western, a team they needed double overtime to beat Sept. 15 in Dillon.

“It’s not that we’re not talking about it for superstition sake, or something like that,” Morrell said of eyeing the Frontier title. The coach said his team is simply a really focused group of players.

“I have coached some really good teams,” Morrell said. “I don’t know if I had to this degree where these kids really just focus on what’s right in front of them. They don’t worry about all the other stuff.”

Morrell said he and his staff worked hard to instill that attitude when he took over as Tech’s head coach in December 2010.

He said he doesn’t want his team looking ahead to big games, like the much-hyped Tech-Carroll showdowns.

That’s something we started drilling home when I took over the job.

“If you don’t take care of what’s in front of you, when you do get to those big games and those big situations, they don’t matter,” the coach said. “I’ve been so pleased with our kids like that. I can’t recall having a team that’s been that dialed in.

“I always tell the guys, ‘You guys carry the lamp, I’ll carry the flashlight. You guys take care of what’s in front of you and I’ll worry about the big picture,'” Morrell said. ‘The big picture is we’d love to have the opportunity to be playing on the national stage in national playoff games. If you take care of what’s right in front of you everyweek, then that leads to conference titles and that leads to opportunities to play.”