The Orediggers are getting pretty used to the road. Or at least they had better be.
Montana Tech’s football team hits the road for their second long trip of the season Saturday when they take on Eastern Oregon in La Grande, Ore.
The No. 8 Orediggers, who were off last week, left Thursday after practice. They’re spending Thursday night in Ritzville, Wash. That’s 374 miles from the Montana Tech campus.
Friday, the Orediggers are traveling the 190 miles from Ritzville to La Grande, where they’ll get in an afternoon practice in front of Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 2 p.m. (Butte time).
Montana Tech rides a five-gaming winnings streak into La Grande. Tech hasn’t lost since falling in a 26-23 heart breaker in a mistake-filled game to the Mountaineers Sept. 1 in Butte. Still, the Orediggers are treating Saturday as a must-win situation.
Showing they can win on the road is the key to making the playoffs, Tech coach Chuck Morrell said. Tech is coming off a 42-6 win at Dickinson State. That trip was 544 miles, according to Google Maps.
“We’re coming off our last game where we had a pretty significant road trip and we played well,” Morrell said. “We’re trying to keep that focus going into another long road trip.”
After home games against MSU-Northern and Montana Western, the Orediggers have to travel to Ashland, Ore., for the final game of the regular season against Southern Oregon. That’s an 879-mile trip.
“That’s one of the things about the Frontier Conference is you’ve got to be able to go on significant road trips and play well,” Morrell said. “That’s really going to swing the outcome of the conference.. It’s tough enough to win on the road in the first place, let alone when you have to make a pretty significant trip.”
Morrell said the crowd is also a factor on the road trips. The Orediggers, by the way, have played in four straight homecoming games, including their own.
“I don’t know if it’s the homecoming games, but it really seems like everywhere we’ve gone there’s just a lot of interest in the Frontier Conference everywhere,” Morrell said. “There’s been some great crowds at every road game. The quality of the play is so high that everybody wants to see it.”