Orediggers close spring healthy, on schedule

The White team (the offense) won the annual Green and White game 42-28 Saturday afternoon at Alumni Coliseum.

That fact really didn’t seem to matter to Montana Tech head football coach Chuck Morrell, though. Instead, the coach pointed to something more important after his team wrapped up spring drills on a chilly, breezy day.

“I’m excited to walk away healthy,” Morrell said. “In the spring game you want have a great intensity and a great tempo, but at the end of the day you want everybody to get into offseason training healthy and ready to go.”

The Oredigger defense — the Green team — came out of the gates ready to go on Saturday. Using the game’s scoring system, the Tech defense jumped out to a 13-0 lead.

“The defense came out clicking,” Morrell said. “I think we got three or four three and outs. It was a really impressive start.”

Morrell pointed to the play of defensive lineman Luke Benz, a newcomer from Shasta, Calif.

“He really stepped up,” Morrell said. “He’s got the ability to really pressure the quarterback. I saw him flying around making some plays.”

The Oredigger defense also got some standout play from the one area of the squad that returns experience.

“Our linebacking corps is the same old same old,” Morrell said. “Those guys are pretty solid. I saw David Meis and Mike Touzinsky do their thing. I feel like they’re a couple of the better outside linebackers in the conference.”

When the Oredigger offense started rolling, the Alumni Coliseum crowd got a reason to be excited for the 2014 Orediggers as the team looks to rebound from a disappointing season.

Zach Winfield scored the game’s first touchdown, busting into the end zone on a short run.

That score was set up by a little trickery. Receiver Alec Bray hooked up with Winfield for a long game a few plays earlier.

Nolan Saraceni pounded into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run that came shortly after quarterback Andrew Loudenback scrambled for a long gain.

Quarterback Dawson Rardon scrambled for a touchdown run of about 10 yards before Loundenback tossed a pair of TD passes to end the game.

The transfer quarterback hit Clay Cavender and JoJo Webster for TD strikes of about 15 yards each.

“The nice thing to see out of our offense was for them to get back into it and just start grinding out first downs,” Morrell said. “That was something we couldn’t do a year ago. You saw some good blocking up front by our offensive line. You saw Nolan Saraceni ground out some tough runs. That’s what we need to be successful.”

One thing Oredigger fans didn’t see is Pat Hansen. The senior running back, who will be gunning for Tech’s all-time rushing record in 2014, dressed but didn’t see action in the game.

“Pat Hansen is Pat Hansen. We know who he is,” Morrell said. “Pat provides great leadership and he’s going to be our No. 1 weapon next year. There’s no reason to expose him to anymore. We know what he can do, and we’ll see him in August.”

Zach Bunney didn’t play. The Butte receiver missed the final couple of weeks of camp with a hamstring injury.

“He’s another guy who was playing pretty well, and we wanted to make sure he’s healthy going into the offseason,” Morrell said.

The Oredigger head coach also praised the play of both of his quarterbacks. Either Loudenback or Reardon will be the starter when Tech opens the season at Montana Western on Aug. 23. The final decision on the starter won’t be made until August.

Overall, Morrell said his team is ahead of schedule at the end of the spring.

“It’s by no means a finished product,” he said. “We’re definitely ahead of where I thought we would be at this point. That’s kind of exciting from a coaching standpoint where we can go in and push the envelope a little bit more in the offseason.”

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