When Montana Tech signed Zeb Bloom of Simms in January, Oredigger football coach Chuck Morrell boasted that his new recruit put up “Tecmo Bowl numbers” while playing high school ball.
The coach was right. Bloom’s stats at Simms during his senior year were the kind of numbers that you’d expect to see out of Bo Jackson on your old Nintendo.
Bloom will showcase that video game-like ability while playing for the Blue team in Saturday’s 31st Bob Cleverley All-Stare 8-Man Football Game at Alumni Coliseum.
During the 2013 football season, Bloom set a handful of records while leading the Tigers to the Class C playoffs.
He chalked up 2,771 all-purpose yards. That averages to 307.9 yards per game. He scored 53 touchdowns and scored 350 points by himself. One game he scored 64 points.
By comparison, Montana Tech scored 204 points in 10 games during a disappointing 2013 campaign.
Bloom passed for 182.6 yards per game and completed 60 percent of his passes.
The future Oredigger, though, doesn’t see himself as Bo Jackson, Walter Payton, Dan Marino or John Elway of Tecmo Bowl. Instead, Bloom considers himself a very lucky man.
“That’s because I ran and everyone came up, so it was a little easier,” Bloom explains of his passing percentage in the run-based option offense. “I had super fast receivers, too.”
Bloom is apparently very good at dishing credit too his teammates.
He points out that teammate Erik Pscherning caught a record five touchdown passes in one game for the Tigers. When it was pointed out that Bloom was the one who threw those passes, he shyly shrugged his shoulders.
“I had a huge line, too,” he said. “That was a big help. I feel bad for the line. They don’t ever get any recognition.”
Recognition is something that has come naturally to Bloom, who was also selected to play in the Montana East-West Shrine Game next month in Laurel. He will play safety for the East squad.
While he turned so many heads with the ball in his hands, he also took home All-State ccolades while playing linebacker for the Tigers.
Bloom was an All-Conference member of the Simms basketball team that advanced to the divisional tournament, and he placed seventh in the javelin at last week’s Class C State tournament in Great Falls.
Those sports, though, are arguably not his best sport. He has actually been more successful in rugby.
Last month, Bloom helped Simms win the state high school rugby championship. Simms beat Kallispell Flathead 24-19 in the championship game.
Bloom, whose brother Jake is also a member of the football and rugby teams, scored three trys in Simms’ 38-18 semifinal win over Bitterroot.
Bloom began playing rugby for the team when he was in eighth grade, and he has really taken to the sport.
“This was our best year,” said Bloom, who described himself as an “ankle biter” on the rugby pitch. “Rugby is awesome.”
Playing rugby made him a better linebacker because you learn how to tackle when playing rugby without football pads, he said.
“You focus on form and stuff,” he said. “You just get the grass burns and the bruising. It’s nothing you won’t live through.”
When it came to playing football at Montana Tech, Bloom had a big influence on making his decision. His cousin, Josh Jany, is a former lineman for the Orediggers.
“My cousin always talked about it,” he said of going to Tech and studying petroleum engineering. “He was like ‘Go to Butte. It’s the best, and you can come work for me.'”
In high school, Bloom carried a 3.81 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society. So it appears he has what it takes to tackle the tough curriculum at Montana Tech.
“You’ve just got to do the hard work and it pays off,” he explained.
This week, Bloom is staying in Centennial Hall on the Montana Tech campus. He sees it as a jumpstart to college life.
“It’s been fun so far,” Bloom said of Cleverley week. “I am liking living in Centennial. My dorm for next year is just two doors down and across the hall. It’s kind of nice staying on campus.”
Morrell said Bloom will start his career as a slot receiver for the Orediggers. He will play quarterback for the Blue team Saturday night. He will also see some time on defense.
Bloom, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, said it doesn’t matter what position he plays.
“I’ll play anything,” he said, “except for lineman, obviously.”
This week is also giving Bloom a chance to get used to the artificial turf of the Bob Green Field, which will be his home turf for the next four or five seasons.
It will likely be five seasons because Bloom expects to redshirt before he tries to put up Tecmo Bowl numbers in the Frontier Conference. He said playing in a game that has three extra men on each side might take some getting used to.
“I’ve never played 11-man before,” he said. “The Shrine Game will be my first game, and that will be interesting. I’ve got to learn how to play defensive back.”