Havre Daily News Sports
The bad thing about intrasquad scrimmages is that if you are really pleased with one team, you usually aren't quite as happy with the other.
Montana State University-Northern football coach Mark Samson was beyond pleased with the performance of his young defense in the first scrimmage of the fall season Friday. Consequently, he will be the first to admit his first-team offense didn't have one of its better performances.
"I was thoroughly pleased with how our defense played," Samson said. "They forced some turnovers, tackled pretty well and did an outstanding job of running to the football. Because we played so well defensively, it caused some problems for us offensively."
Indeed, the Lights offense looked out of sync from the outset. They struggled to move the ball with any consistency as dropped balls and other miscues caused more problems.
"We made a lot of little mistakes," Samson said. "But they are mistakes that are easily correctable."
On their third possession, the Lights committed the first of three turnovers as quarterback Kyle Samson was flushed from the pocket and fired a pass to the end zone that was picked off by younger brother Marc Samson.
Kyle Samson was also intercepted later in the game and fumbled after getting tripped up after breaking a long run.
"Kyle made a couple of bad decisions," Coach Samson said. "On the pass Marc intercepted, Kyle should have just tucked it away and ran. But he was trying to make something happen."
However, Kyle Samson would get his revenge a little later, leading the offense 45 yards and finding Dan Wirtzberger on a 10-yard scoring pass. Samson would get the Lights into the end zone later in the evening, scampering in on a 6-yard keeper.
The only other score of the night came when the Lights' younger players got in on the action. True freshman quarterback Jeff Van Nest connected with fellow freshman Justin Kissee on a 45-yard pass.
"We're still running into the same problems we had in the spring and that's understanding our assignments and responsibilities on offense," Samson said. "We need to get these things worked out."
The scrimmage belonged to the defense, which forced a total of five turnovers and looked vastly improved from last year.
"We've added a lot of athletes to the defense this year," Samson said. "And you look at a kid like Kennedy Anderson and can tell he's just much stronger and quicker than last year."
Anderson looked sharp at his middle linebacker spot, leading a talented group of young backers that has Samson very optimistic.
"Our linebackers looked really good out there," he said. "They're very quick to the ball and did a good job of tackling."
Northern's secondary was also solid, led by returnees Marc Samson, Jake Eldredge, Dilan Saisbury and Kyle Elliott. The unit has also been bolstered by the addition of freshmen Kelly McBryan and Khalin Anderson.
"We're much deeper in the secondary, and Kelly and Khalin are going to contribute once they get used to playing at this level," Samson said. "Our defensive line isn't the biggest, but they played well. Joe Tusick looked solid after making the switch from linebacker."
In football, the defense is usually ahead of the offense early in the season. Samson believes the offense will be better when the Lights scrimmage again on Wednesday.
"I think our offense was a little tired," Samson said. "I think it will be much sharper when we scrimmage again."