By George Ferguson
Havre High School senior quarterback Justin Kegel is going to continue his football career on the collegiate level playing the position he wanted to all along - quarterback.
Montana Tech has announced that Kegel (6-2, 185) has signed an NAIA letter of intent to play for the Frontier Conference Orediggers beginning this fall in Butte.
Kegel, who was a unanimous choice as an all-state quarterback and free safety in 2002, led the Havre Blue Ponies to the 2002 Class A state championship game and Central A Conference championship in November and completed the most prolific passing season in school history.
Kegel is definitely excited about continuing his career with the Orediggers.
"The choice came down to the University of Montana and Montana Tech," Kegel said. "And I have so much respect for both Coach (Bob) Green and Coach (Bobby) Hauck, but in the end Bob Green really showed me that he wanted me to be a part of the Montana Tech program. He made me feel like I belonged there."
Perhaps another factor that weighed into Kegel's choice, was deciding which position to play in college. The Orediggers recruited Kegel as a quarterback, while the Grizzlies were after Kegel's services as a free safety.
"I always knew I wanted to play quarterback in college and I believe that I can," Kegel said. "So that is another reason Tech was a good fit for me."
While football is very important to Kegel and has been for a big part of his life for many years, as well as the fact that it runs in his blood (brother Matt is a quarterback at Washington State where cousin Ryan Leaf played, and cousin Brady Leaf has signed to play with the Oregon Ducks), an even a bigger reason for Kegel's choice of schools was the education that he will receive in Butte. Kegel plans on majoring in engineering and carries a 3.85 GPA at Havre High.
"I have wanted to pursue a degree in engineering for a long time," Kegel said. "And Montana Tech is renowned for their engineering program, so it seemed like the right place to go."
Kegel also brings with him an impressive list of accolades. He was twice named all-conference free safety as well as all-state this season. Kegel was named to both first-team all-state and all-conference at quarterback in 2002 and led Class A in total passing yards with 2,074 while throwing for 23 touchdowns.
He also set Havre High records for most points in a season (192), most passing yards and touchdowns, most tackles by a defensive back in a season (107) and among several other records.
Along with his record-breaking year in football, Kegel was an integral part of Havre High's Central A regular season basketball championship and is also a three-year letterman in track and field where he was medalist in the triple jump.
As for Kegel's future at Montana Tech, his only goal right now is to focus on what is in front of him.
"I don't expect to go in and start right away," Kegel said. "But I am going to spend the whole summer preparing myself for college football. I am going to hit the weight room hard and throw a lot of balls so that I can be as prepared as I can possibly be when I get to Butte next fall."