Orediggers to kick off season at Eastern Oregon

Orediggers to kick off season at Eastern Oregon

From Montana Tech Information Services 

Montana Tech will launch its 2022 college football season Saturday with a Frontier Conference game against Eastern Oregon in La Grande, Oregon. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MDT). 

The Orediggers finished 5-5 last season in head coach Kyle Samson’s first campaign as head coach and his first season as a college head coach. He served previously as head coach at Flathead High School in Kalispell before coming to Montana Tech as first the offensive coordinator before taking the team reins. 

The Orediggers finished fifth in the conference standings, and are predicted for the same slot this year, according to the preseason coaches’ poll. Samson, staff and team are looking to climb higher. 

Montana Tech had six all-conference players last year, three on the first team and three on the second. 

Montana Tech led the Frontier in attendance last year, averaging 3,587 fans a game. 

The Orediggers return 10 starters on offense and seven on defense. The offense ranked fifth in the league in scoring last year, averaging 25.6 points per game, and fifth in total offense, averaging 363 yards a contest. Montana Tech ranked fifth in rushing at 128.8 yards a game and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground. The Orediggers averaged 20.3 first downs, third in the conference, and ranked fourth in passing by averaging 234.2 yards per game through the air. They ranked third in passing touchdowns with 20. 

The Oredigger defense ranked fifth in the conference in points, allowing 23.8 a game. They were third against the pass, yielding 189 opposing yards through the air. Montana Tech gave up 156.7 ground yards a game to rank sixth in the conference. 

This marks the second straight year the Orediggers will have opened the season against Eastern Oregon. The Mountaineers spoiled Samson’s Oredigger head coaching debut by edging Montana Tech 26-24 in Butte. 

The Orediggers went 2-2 versus ranked opponents last season, losing twice to Montana Western, but beating Rocky Mountain both times they played the Bears. 

Four all-conference selections return for Montana Tech in wide receiver Trevor Hoffman, running back Blake Counts, defensive back Jordan Washington and punter Andrew Almos. 

Senior quarterback Jet Campbell starts his final campaign leading the Oredigger offense. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Central product passed for 2,052 yards, including 17 touchdowns, last season. Her averaged 228 yards per game through the air. 

Counts was an all-Frontier second-team honoree in 2021 after rushing for 777 yards with four touchdowns. At 5-11, 220, the junior from Kalispell averaged 4.9 yards a carry, capping his season with a 147-yard game against Montana State-Northern. 

In addition to Washington, safety Naoki Harmer returns for his senior season and led the secondary last year with 61 tackles and one interception last year. Sophomore linebacker Cole Wyant had a breaout season in 2021 with 46 tackles, 4.5 for loss, and three sacks. 

Montana Tech will begin the 2022 campaign with a new defensive coordinator in Aric Williams. He was the defensive backs coach at San Jose State for three seasons, and has also coached at Idaho, Montana and Arizona State. He is a 2005 Oregon State graduate, who played defensive back there and earned second-team all-Pac 10 honors in 2004. 

Montana Tech missed the 2020 season because of the Covid-19 outbreak and shook off the cobwebs from sitting out a year at midseason last fall to finish the schedule in strong manner. The Orediggers on four of the last six contests, ending the year with a 41-0 shutout over MSU-Northern. 

The recent coaches’ poll predicted a sixth-place league finish for Eastern Oregon. 

Montana Tech will open the home part of its schedule next Saturday with a traditional afternoon tilt against fierce rival Carroll. 


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