Summer is officially over for the Montana Tech football team.
The Orediggers, looking to bounce back from last year’s disappointing 1-9 campaign, opened “fall camp” Monday on the Bob Green Field.
Tech practiced twice Monday and will continue two-a-day practices for several more days as they prepare for their season-opening game, which is Sept. 5 at MSU-Northern.
“Spring is about developing young players and redshirts,” Oredigger coach Chuck Morrell said after Monday’s second practice. “The fall is about seeing who is going to play. It’s definitely a change in speed.”
Morrell said every job is subject to competition, though it would seem reigning All-American David Meis is likely set at linebacker.
The big question heading into camp will be who will be the starting quarterback, experienced sophomore Dawson Reardon or MSU transfer Quinn McQueary?
Morrell said he will name a starter before the season starts. That just isn’t going to be on the first day of camp.
“What we have going on with the entire team right now is we have depth charts and competition at every spot,” he said. “Every spot is grading out, and we’re going to do that through fall camp.”
Reardon and McQueary both looked sharp in practice No. 2 Monday.
“Both of them have been executing, and I do have high expectations,” Morrell said. “Both of them took a lot of reps in the spring and they’re playing at a pretty high level right now.”
Whoever wins the starting job will have lots of weapons to work with.
Tech returns Clay Cavender and Alec Bray to lead a deep group of receivers. Morrell also praised the play of true sophomore Jimmy Weigel, who made some big plays Monday.
“Jimmy Weigel played a little bit for us as a true freshman last year, and he’s really worked his tail off during the summer,” Morrell said. “When you play a guy as a true freshman you expect him to come back and be a factor.”
Junior Zach Bunney, who is listed as a running back, was also a target during the first practices.
The running back position appears to be stacked as well with junior Nolan Saraceni and sophomore Zach Winfield returning and the addition of redshirt freshman Hunter Gappmayer.
Defensively, the Orediggers have a lot of new faces around Mies, fellow senior Tyler Gavlak and redshirt sophomore Drew Schleeman.
One newcomer is junior Clay Brozovich. The Butte High product is moving from offense to linebacker this season, and if Monday’s performance is an indication that was a good move.
“Every time we look at the film Broz is making a play,” Morrell said.
In all, the Orediggers have 115 guys in camp, and Morrell is happy to have the gang all together.
“It’s always great to get back on the field,” Morrell said. “As a coach you get so excited to get the chance to work with the guys again.”
After playing at Northern in Havre on Sept. 5, the Orediggers open their home schedule Sept. 12 against Carroll College.