Tech coach confident in QB situation

Once again, all eyes will be on the quarterback situation as Montana Tech conducts spring football drills.

For the second straight spring, the Orediggers lost a quarterback with starting experience shortly before taking the field when Herman Tapley decided to leave the team.

That leaves the job a battle between freshman Dawson Reardon and newcomer Andrew Loudenback as the Orediggers take the field three times each week leading up to the April 26 spring game.

“We’re very excited about both of them right now,” Tech coach Chuck Morrell said after Friday’s practice, the second workout of the spring.

Oredigger fans are familiar with Reardon. The Helena High product got two starts for the Orediggers last season before going down with a knee injury.

Dawson Reardon barks out signals at practice Friday.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Reardon received a medical redshirt and has four years of eligibility remaining.

“Dawson showed us a lot of great things a year ago,” Morrell said. “He won us a ballgame and then took an injury. He’s just now getting back from that.”

Loudenback, a 6-3, 215-pound sophomore from Parker, Colo., comes to town with three years of eligibility remaining. He transferred to Tech from Monterey Peninsula Community College in Monterey, Calif., at the semester break. (High school highlights)

“He brings a ton of experience to the plate and a lot of poise,” Morrell said.

Matt Berg, a kicker and quarterback, will also take reps during the spring. Morrell, though, has said he prefers to have Berg focus on kicking during the season.

Whoever wins the job, he will be running a very different offense from last season.

Montana Tech offensive coordinator Pete Sterbick directs his squad Friday evening.

New on campus is offensive coordinator Pete Sterbick , who comes to town after serving as the head coach and offensive coordinator at McPherson College. He replaces Corey Fipps, who was let go after one season calling the plays.


Morrell said the new pro-style system will help the Orediggers take advantage of their many playmakers.

That includes running back Pat Hansen, a senior on the verge of breaking several Oredigger records.

“What we’re doing schematically is a very big change from a year ago,” Morrell said. “We’ve got a stable of great running backs, and we can feature the running game. We obviously have some play-action things that are going to go on with that.”

The receiving corps includes Alex Bray, Zach Bunney and Clay Cavender. Morrell said he is also pleased with Sean Sullivan, who moved from quarterback to receiver.

“I was really excited today,” Morrell said. “I thought our receivers did some nice things.”

Defensively, the Orediggers are working on blending experience and youth.

“We’ve got a lot of familiar faces that are out there for us right now,” Morrell said. “We’re also plugging in a lot of new guys. We’ve got some new guys in the back half, we’ve got some new guys up front.”

The Orediggers, of course, return the likes of big-play linebackers Mike Touzinsky and David Meis.

“We’ll definitely lean on guys like that,” the coach said.

Tech’s first practice was at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Friday the Orediggers practiced in full pads for the first time.

“It was a very physical practice,” Morrell said. “There was a lot of guys getting after it.”

Tech hits the field again at 1 p.m. Saturday, and Morrell said he expects to see more of the same.

This spring marks the first that Morrell is not the defensive coordinator since he took over for Bob Green after the 2010 season.

B.J. Campbell, who was the first assistant Morrell hired, is taking over the defensive play calling.

“I have all the confidence in the word in coach Campbell to call the defense,” Morrell said. “He knows what he’s doing. It’s a natural evolution for him. He’s an outstanding young coach. He’s ready to do that.”

That will give Morrell the chance to get more involved on other aspects of the team, which is trying to bounced back from a rough 2013 and win the Frontier Conference title like it did in 2012.

“It’s just really so I can focus on A to Z, every facet of the program on and off the field,” Morrell said. “It’s going to give me more time to make sure we’re moving everything in the right direction.”