Defense leads the way at West team scrimmage

That the roster of players knows how to play football really well might simply be the strength of this year’s West team that is practicing through the week on the Montana Tech campus.
The team held its first scrimmage Monday morning before a sparse crowd on the Bob Green Field artificial turf. Only one scoring play developed, little big yardage was gained and the defense, as could be expected at this point of the workouts, held the edge, noted head coach Don Peoples Jr., who has is the longtime man-in-charge of the Butte Central gridiron fortunes.
The West squad is preparing to play a similar team of East All-Stars Saturday in the 69th Montana East-West Shrine Game in Great Falls. Top players from their senior seasons the preceding fall annually fill the rosters for the contest.
“I think we just have a lot of really good players,” Peoples said, assessing the team’s strengths that came out in the scrimmage, held on a sunny, quickly warming morning. “That makes it fun to be a part of the game. A lot of these kids are going to college football.”
The big strike, one of the few haymakers the offense was able to land, was a 60-yard touchdown pass to recent Butte High speedster Dalton Daum from Brady McChesney, who quarterbacked Kalispell Glacier to the state Class AA championship last fall.
Another spectacular play was a deep pass thrown by Butte Central grad Danny Peoples to Ty Morgan of Columbia Falls. Morgan made an acrobatic, tumbling grab to latch onto the ball and foil the tight coverage.
Running back Lane Kokoruda of Helena High showed quickness and speed on several carries for good gains. He will be continuing his career at Montana Tech.
“The defense stood out,” coach Peoples said. “They’re definitely ahead of (the offense) after two days of practice. But our offense executed and had some bright spots.
“The defense was fast and aggressive. The offense takes a little longer (to gel) because of the timing and the pass-blocking.”
The coach was happy with the read-zone operation of the quarterbacks, McChesney, who is headed for Montana State, and Peoples, who will be a kicking and punting candidate for Montana. Coach Peoples also lauded the running of Kokoruda and Missoula Big Sky alum Cory Diaz. He added that Glacier product Logan Jones brings some more prowess to the position, but was held out of Tuesday’s action because of a “minor injury.”
“There are a lot of challenges but these are all good kids with high football IQs,” Don Peoples said about putting the team together for a game in a week’s time.
The East holds a 37-31 lead in the series that started in 1947. The West won last year’s game, 34-10, played in Laurel. Next year’s game will be held in Butte.
Second-time West team head coach Don Peoples Jr. is being assisted on this year’s staff by Stephan Burns of Butte Central, Scott Evans of Helena High, T Artis of Glacier, Gary Ferris of Dillon and Clint Layng of Boulder.
The East head coach is Gary Lowry of C.M. Russell in Great Falls. Assistants include Mike Henneberg of CMR, Matt Krahe of Great Falls High, Jeff Graham of Belt, Charlie Brown of Fairfield and Butte native Paul Klaboe, recently retired Billings West head coach.
The game benefits the Shrine Children’s Hospital in Spokane and has raised more than $200,000 for it the past two years.
“This game — it’s all good,” coach Peoples said, “the game, the cause, the players and the coaches.”
Practices are scheduled Tuesday for 9 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m.
The updated West roster follows:
Quarterbacks — Danny Peoples, Butte Central, 6-1, 185; Brady McChesney, Kalispell Glacier, 6-0. 170.
Wide receivers — Paul Hart, Helena High, 6-3, 175; Colton Hunchak, Calgary Notre Dame, 6-0, 195; Ty Morgan, Columbia Falls, 5-11, 175; Dalton Daum, Butte High, 6-1, 175; Logan Jones, Kalispell Glacier, 5-8, 160; Sean Mulcahy, Helena Capital, 6-2, 175.
Running backs — Danny Mannix, Flint Creek, 6-1, 180; Lane Kokoruda, Helena High, 5-10, 175.
Offensive linemen — Harrison Kauffman, Kalispell Glacier, 6-2, 235; Marcus Ferriter, Butte Central, 6-4, 220; Michael Curtiss, Libby, 6-4, 240; Michael Monaco, Anaconda, 6-2, 230; Devinn Ragen, Townsend, 6-3, 215; Matt Murphy, Missoula Big Sky, 6-2, 245; Clay Tamcke, Helena High, 6-1, 225; Zach Brown, Hamilton, 6-3, 240.
Tight end — Colin Bingham, Missoula Big Sky, 6-3, 240.
Defensive linemen — Aaron Siderius, Kalispell Flathead, 6-0, 215; Cory Diaz, Missoula Big Sky, 6-0, 190; Spencer Ransier-Ross, Columbia Falls, 6-5, 285; Byron Rollins, Missoula Sentinel, 6-3, 230; Philip Whitney, Hamilton, 6-1, 210.
Defensive ends — Ike Schweikert, Columbia Falls, 6-3, 205; Jayce Gilder, Corvallis, 6-5, 225.
Andrew Harris, Kalispell Glacier, 6-4, 195.
Safeties — J.D. Ferris, Dillon, 5-11, 170; Clay Dean, Butte High, 5-10, 175; Josh Sandry, Bigfork, 6-1, 195.
Cornerbacks — Justin Ferris, Dillon, 5-10, 140; Nick Wrigg, Helena Capital, 6-0, 165; Danner Lindhart, Missoula Loyola, 6-0, 180.
Outside linebackers — Joe Caicedo, Darby, 6-1, 200; Chad Peterson, Butte Central, 6-0 190; Jason Ferris, Dillon, 6-2, 175.
Inside linebackers — Kaemen Richards, Butte Central, 6-2, 220; Parker Tezak, Dillon, 6-0, 205; Isaiah Cech, Helena High, 6-0, 205; Josh Hill, Kalispell Glacier, 6-1, 200.
Specialist — Tanner Hoff, Hot Springs, 6-1, 215.

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