Dawgs close out first week of spring football drills

By Tyler Hulse
Montana Western Athletic Department Intern

DILLON — The Montana Western football program began spring practices last week. The Bulldogs are coming off a 6-5 record last season, which included a 4-0 finish, the best season for the Bulldogs in a decade. The 90 returners have been confined indoors for eight weeks of winter conditioning, so excitement and enthusiasm were in abundance as the team hit the field last Tuesday for the first contact practice.

“So far so good,” head coach B.J. Robertson said after the first two practices. “We’ve had a lot of energy and excitement.”

Montana Western will conduct 15 practices this spring including two scrimmages, the first being this Saturday, April 4. The annual spring game will mark the end of the spring season on Saturday, April 25 as part of the Montana Western Alumni Weekend events.

Team 84 of the Bulldog football program will be led by 17 seniors. The offensive unit returns eight starters including all-conference selections running back Sam Rutherford of Centerville and offensive guard Will Thacker from Winnemucca, Nevada. The defense which ranked third in the Frontier Conference last season for points allowed returns nine starters including a pair of all-conference linebackers, A.J. Wilson and Joe Coker, both natives of Helena.

The Bulldogs will be looking for a signal caller to replace two-year starter Tyler Hulse, who accounted for 26 total touchdowns during the 2014 campaign. Five quarterbacks will be taking snaps this spring, led by returners Charlie Switzer, Richie, and Bennett Gibson of Mount Vernon, Washington. The Bulldog offense will also be looking to fill open spots left behind by four-year starter and all-conference left tackle Nick Brown, and fullback Tony Wilson.

The defense is also evaluating talent to fill in two key starting positions. The Bulldogs graduated all-conference defensive end Phil Selin, the Frontier Conference sack leader in the previous two seasons. Selin was recently invited to participate in the pro day activities at the University of Montana. Safety Jesse McCloud lead the Bulldogs in interceptions the past two seasons, and was recognized as an All-American as a senior.

“The guys have put in a lot of work this winter and are in great shape,” Robertson said as he evaluated the positives going into this spring and fall.

“Defensive Coordinator Rob Goode is going into his third spring, and Offensive Coordinator Bruce Carpenter is going into his second spring,” Robertson explained. “Everyone is a lot more comfortable with each other as well as with the systems.”

The consistency and team chemistry should add to the momentum of the strong 2014 finish as the Bulldogs approach their first scrimmage to be held at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. The clash will be held on the Erb Practice Field adjacent to the athletic complex and will be followed by Easter Egg Hunt for children of all ages at approximately 11:30 a.m.