Orediggers close out spring with sharp scrimmage

Montana Tech quarterback Quinn McQueary could only think of two mistakes made by the Orediggers offense after Saturday’s Green and White Game at Alumni Coliseum, and they were both made by him.

“Everyone played well,” the sophomore signal caller said. “A couple of interceptions by me was kind of really the only downfall of today’s practice.”

Ryal Gunlikson and Drew Schleeman picked off passes in the practice game in which no score was kept.

Still, those two miscues did not put a damper on what Oredigger fans saw from the offense in the final preview before fall camp begins in August.

McQueary, who transferred from Montana State after last season, scrambled for a touchdown run. He also hooked up with Clay Cavender for a pretty touchdown over the middle to highlight a day filled with impressive plays.

Had officials not been directed to blow the play dead when then the quarterback was about to come in contact with a defender, the quick and speedy McQueary probably would have probably ran for a couple of more scores.

“I was giving the officials a little bit of a hard time,” Tech coach Chuck Morrell said. “It’s really hard to decide when he’s down.”

Overall, the head coach said he liked what he saw from his offense.

“They can be really dangerous,” Morrell said. “I saw a lot of guys making plays throughout the course of the day. That’s exciting to me. That’s something we struggled with here the last couple of years. I feel like we bridged that gap, and I’m looking forward to seeing us live on Sept. 5.”

Sophomore quarterback Dawson Reardon also had a sharp day for the Orediggers. He played mistake free and showed no fear of taking a shot down the field.

Reardon’s best pass came when he hit redshirt freshman Cam Nissen over the middle for a long gain.

“As a whole we had a great day,” McQueary said. “We came out and showed some good things. We were just kind of scratching the surface on our play book. We just kind of did our base stuff.”

McQueary and Reardon will take the competition to be the starting quarterback into fall camp. Morrell has not named a starter or a frontrunner in the competition. McQueary said both players have focused on the team first.

“We’ve got a pretty good friendship,” McQueary said. “We both know it’s a competition, but he’s pushing me and I’m pushing him. That’s how it will be all the way through fall. You’ve always got to have a good backup, whether it’s me or him.”

Whoever takes the starting snaps when the Orediggers open the season Sept. 5 against MSU-Northern in Havre, he will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Carlos Martinez and Zach Bunney were among the players who stood out on Saturday.

“We’ve got guys who can make plays from all over on the field,” McQueary said.

Morrell said the high power of the offense and the speed of McQueary has led to improvement on both sides of the ball.

“Plays like that have made our defense better because our secondary has been forced to stay locked up,” Morrell said, pointing to the scrambling of McQueary. “It’s hard to contain it. It’s very challenging for us when we’ve got our receivers scrambling around and making plays.”

Redshirt freshman linebacker Nic Amestoy made a big hit on the last play of the game, ending things on a positive for the defense.

Another big positive, Morrell said, was the play of Schleeman, a sophomore linebacker from Butte.

“Drew Schleeman has had a great spring for us,” Morrell said. “He’s kind of been waiting in the wings behind Mike Touzinsky. We felt good about putting him on the field last year, and he just really developed into one of our lead guys.”

Morrell has big plans for Schleeman in 2015.

“That’s really critical for us to put a really strong component on the opposite side of David Meis,” the coach said. “You think that combination, and I think that’s when our defense can be dangerous.”

Morrell called the spring a success.

“We all win in spring ball,” he joked. “We had tremendous growth from a lot of our young guys. That’s what the whole focus of spring is all about.”