By Bruce Sayler
The more obvious subject to even the novice eye was the focus of keen address Saturday when Montana Tech held its Green-and-White Scrimmage for football on Bob Green Field.
It was a scrimmage in reference only. The program’s offensive units vied with its defense with all rotations seeing time. Drives finished in success or not and some situational instances were played.
The need, though, was depth development, Montana Tech head coach Chuck Morrell said.
The drop-off was noticeable in areas where good experience returned — from there to the next players, the No. 2s or No. 3s. Closing those gaps is the main concern for the Orediggers before they embark on another college football season in the fall.
So, Saturday’s purpose was to let the returnees have a small taste of play, then turn it over to the lesser experienced to gain time and compete for next spots.
“Our No. 1 focus was on the young guys,” Morrell said. “We didn’t scrimmage a lot of our veteran, key guys.
“We’re looking for the guys sticking their hands up out of the hole for the coaches to pull them through.”
Some hard hits and big offensive plays entertained the fans who showed up and braved a sometimes sharp wind that swirled in the stadium. Seven touchdowns were scored, but mostly later after the first-string defense got in its early licks.
Senior running back Jed Fike broke a 60-yard run around right end to start the scoring, Grant Kingston charged 19 yards for a touchdown, quarterback Brandon Battle tallied on a keeper off a rollout inside the 20, Jet Campbell threw a 3-yard TD pass to Alec Steel and Battle fired a 16-yard scoring pass to unidentified receiver. Battle also got loose on a sprint up the middle from aboiut midfield.
Not all jersey numbers showed on the pre-scrimmage roster.
Battle and Campbell saw equal time at quarterback, and Justin Bayer set up there late in the exhibition. Fike was dominant early, but but Kingston and Caleb Beggerley also ran well. The receiving corps is nursing some bumps and bruises and so new offensive coordinator Kyle Samson unveiled some of his tight-end factor in the attack.
“We’re a little bit banged up at receiver,” Morrell confirmed. “So, we featured the tight ends. That’s something new for us.”
Steel, Nate Sanders, Nate Korb and Will Hunthausen all enjoyed a good afternoon catching the ball.
The secondary was strong in the early going as it comes back for 2019 intact after being a strength of the team last fall. Safety Justin May and cornerback Demaree Morris were among the leaders.
“We used a lot of sophomores and freshmen today,” Morrell said, reiterating the aim to develop the reserves. “I’m excited about the first defensive unit. I think it has a chance to be really good again. The entire secondary is back and the linebackers have good experience back. The defensive line has guys who played a lot. We have to fill out the depth.”
The coach lauded lineman Arthur Flynn and linebacker Carter Meyers as having star potential.
‘Arthur Flynn has a chance to be one of the best defensive guys in the league,” he said, speaking in comparison to other Frontier Conference personnel.
Karson Wheat came up with a sack early in the scrum and linebacker Paul Sundquist deflected a pass.
Morrell said he thought the overall team speed looked good and that the defense’s speed probably grades out on the high end of the scale. Growing dependable backups will continue to be a main project as practice continues for a couple more days and then when summer drills arrive in August.
“We have a big crew of guys staying over the summer and that will be an asset,” Morrell said.
Summer drills are to begin on August 7 and the Orediggers will begin their season on September 7 with a conference game at home against the College of Idaho.