Orediggers land three more Mining City stars

By Bill Foley

Christmas came a little early this week for Chuck Morrell.

The Montana Tech football coach stuffed his stocking with three more NAIA Letters of Intent signed by Butte standouts.

Brian LaFond of Butte High and Blake Burton and Tanner Kump of Butte Central signed with the Orediggers, Morrell confirmed Thursday. That brings the total to four the number of Butte players committing to play for the Orediggers.

Butte High receiver Kiley Caprara signed with the team earlier this month.

“We’re pretty excited,” Morrell said of the Mining City additions.

LaFond will head up the hill following a monstrous season at defensive end for the Bulldogs.

As a senior, LaFond earned an All-State honorable mention after registering 11 and a half sacks in 10 games. He also took home first-team All-Conference honors following the season in which he recorded 49 tackles, 12 of which were for a loss.

“He can really come off the edge,” Morrell said. “As a 3-4 defense, that’s something we really cherish.”

LaFond signed with the Orediggers after also talking with MSU-Northern, Rocky Mountain College and a couple of out-of-state schools.

He will play outside linebacker for the Orediggers.

“I’m excited,” LaFond said. “It should be fun.”

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound LaFond, who started at defensive end as a junior, had a breakout season as a senior.

“I think it was more the weight room than anything,” he said of his big season. “I made it there every single day, and I really dedicated myself to football.”

LaFond said he will major in engineering at Tech. However, he isn’t sure which engineering program he’ll specialize in.

The 5-9, 170-pound Burton played running back and safety for the Maroons. He’ll get his first look at running back on the hill.

“He’s got speed and he’s tough,” Morrell said. “He’s exactly the kind of player we’re looking for.”

Burton ran the ball 95 times for 901 yards and seven touchdowns for the Maroons in 2016. He also returned kicks and caught 16 passes for 252 yards.

For his efforts, Burton earned All-State and All-Conference honors at running back, a position in which he started for the Maroons the past two seasons.

“This is a good opportunity,” Burton said of signing with Tech. “I just wanted to play football, and I’m excited to stay in town.”

Burton, whose fastest time in the 100-meter dash is 11.49 seconds, said he plans to major in pre-med.

Kump started the past two seasons at quarterback for the Maroons. Morrell said he will get a chance to play the same potion for the Orediggers.

“We think he’s got a great upside,” Morrell said. “He’s got some good athletic skills and he’s got a high IQ.”

The 6-foot, 185-pound Kump earned second-team All-Conference honors after completing 113 of 222 passes for 1,619 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. He also ran for 220 yards and six scores.

Kump, who also starts on the BC basketball team, said he will man whatever position the Tech coaches ask him to.

“I’ll do whatever I can do to help the team,” he said. “If I could play quarterback that would be great.”

Kump is undecided about his major. He said he is happy the big decision is behind him.

“It’s nice to know I can go to a great school like Tech and continue my career in football,” he said.