Grizzlies Destroy Mountaineers in Home Opener

5 09 2010

Jordan Tripp's Early 22-yard Interception Return Sparked a Record Performance by the Griz Defense

September 5, 2010

Coming into the 2010 season, things were very different for Montana Grizzly football.  The team has a new head coach (Robin Pflugrad) and many new players, however one thing is the same from last year…they opened up their season hosting Western State College at Washington Grizzly Stadium.

For the first time in my Griz football spectating career (which now totals 28 games), I spent the entirety of yesterday’s game on the field, shooting the game with Kayla for KECI.

And the Grizzlies did not disappoint myself nor the home crowd.  Montana was up 21-0 just minutes into the game and cruised to a 73-2 victory.

The story of the day was the Griz defense giving up no points and scoring four touchdowns of their own, setting a Big Sky Conference record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Three of those pick sixes came in the first quarter as the team wasted no time demonstrating the speed and hands of their new look pressure defense.

Another bright spot for the Grizzlies was the excellent return game by Peter Nguyen who totalled over 200 yards on kick and punt returns.

Montana will face a tougher opponent next Saturday when they take to the road to face Cal Poly.

Meanwhile a pair of ex-Griz football stars have officially made the cut for their respective NFL teams.  Former Montana wide-receiver and Marc Mariani made the final Tennessee Titan roster yesterday.  The Havre native led the entire NFL in all-purpose yards during the preseason with 440.  His former teammate Shann Schillinger also made the cut with the Atlanta Falcons.





Gridiron Season Approaches

19 08 2010

August 18, 2010

It’s that time of year again, despite baseball season still being in full swing everybody is itching for football season.  I’m a self-proclaimed baseball nut but even I’m anxious for some pigskin action.

It’s been very encouraging to see success in the NFL preseason by players who were suiting up for the University of Montana just a year ago.  In his first game for the Titans (against Seattle on Sunday, August 15) Marc Mariani hauled in 3 catches for 21 yards, caught a 2-point conversion, and returned several punts and kicks… his spot on the roster = solidified.  Meanwhile Stephen Pfahler had a 16-yard reception himself for Tennessee.  Shann Schillinger also made headlines over with the Falcons, with a tackle and interception (returned 29 yards) in his first professional game.

As great as it is to see those guys continue their success… there remain several questions about the immediate future the current Montana Grizzly team will have.  I was at their first scrimmage of the season on Sunday.  The vigor of our young tailbacks such as Peter Nguyen and Jordan Canada was good to see.  Both ran hard and took several attempted tackles to bring down.  Obviously the starting job in the ground game is still Chase Reynolds without question but any and all offensive weapons are good to see.  On the defensive side, it was all about a sure-handed secondary of safeties grabbing four picks on the afternoon.  Returning starter Erik Stoll made a great interception along the sideline, Mike McCord had a 99-yard touchdown return on his pick (albeit an easy play on a terrible ball thrown by Chase Reynolds), and junior transfer Andrew Badger caught two interceptions himself (one if which he returned 17 yards for a score, brilliantly navigating through a slew of attempted tackles).

I have yet to place my faith on the passing game, the scrimmage saw lots of minimal success screens and dump-out passes… we’ll just have to wait until the season fires up to see if we have a chance to advance to a third straight national championship game under our new coach in Robin Plugrad.

Of course I haven’t given up on baseball by any degree… and the Missoula Osprey are looking the best they have since the season began.  The team sits just one game back of first-place Helena in the current 2nd half season standings, despite being two games under .500 at 7-9.  Adam Eaton continues to tear up the Pioneer League as he leads the league in hitting (.374), slugging (.563), on-base-percentage (.507), OPS (1.070) and even ranks second in steals with 17.  However if the team pitching doesn’t find it’s magic slipper soon it will remain an ugly pumpkin that will keep the O’s from finding a playoff berth (the team ranks last in ERA at 5.09).

On one light-hearted note, Kayla and I had a ton of fun doing a story on Matt Helm and Bobby Stone anchoring the corners of the infield… and doing so fashionably with a mullet each.  To view the story click here: Mullet Magic.