Havre Daily News sports editor
The Montana State University-Northern football team got a late Christmas present this week in the form of a much-needed wide receiver.
Havre football fans will recognize speedy former Havre High standout Coda Tchida next season, as he has decided to transfer from the University of Mary back to Havre. Tchida, who had been a redshirt at Mary, will enroll in classes for the 2006 spring semester, and will be able to participate in spring drills.
Northern, which lost its top three wideouts at the end of the 2005 season, is in dire need of replacements for the trio of Nick Arnold, Danny Wirtzberger and Clint Herrera. All three players had very solid careers for the Lights, and Arnold was a two-time Frontier all-conference selection.
Tchida was a two-way standout for Havre High, earning accolades at both wide receiver and cornerback. As a senior he gained more than 1,000 yards receiving and helped guide Havre High to the 2004 Class A state championship.
Despite his prowess at wide receiver, Tchida said the Mary coaching staff moved him to corner during the fall and that, among several other factors, played into his decision to transfer.
“Things just weren't going well at Mary,” Tchida said. “They told me I could play wide receiver and the day I got there they moved me to corner. I wasn't happy with that because I really wanted to play offense.
“Plus, a lot of guys left the program this year and it seemed like things were just heading in the wrong direction there. I want to be a part of a program that is committed to winning and Northern is definitely doing that.”
Tchida had wrestled with the idea of playing with the Lights right out of high school, but admitted the thought of striking out on his own was tempting, which is part of what led him to Bismarck and the University of Mary. When he decided to leave the Marauders' program, there was no question where he was heading and who he wanted to play football for in 2006.
“I was a long way from home and I was pretty unhappy,” Tchida said. “I am excited to come home and be with my family and friends.
“I also really like Coach (Mark) Samson,” he added. “I always have. He is a great football coach, and he is really committed to winning and doing things the right way. I respect him a lot.”
Tchida should provide instant help to an already potent Northern offense. The Lights went 5-5 this past season and they possessed one of the top offensive attacks in the conference.
With quarterback Kyle Samson returning for his senior year, and a solid nucleus of good players back, Tchida is excited about the prospect of being a Light come next season.
“They have all the pieces in place, I think,” he said. “They had a great season this year, and it seems like the guys on the team and the coaching staff all work really hard.
“I think next season could be a very good year for this program,” he added. “And I am just really looking forward to playing football for this team and for Coach Samson.”