Havre Daily News sports editor
Montana State University-Northern football coach Mark Samson is having a very solid recruiting season. Samson recently announced the signing of 12 high school athletes to go along with the eight transfers he announced last month.
Topping the list of in-state athletes is Chinook High School standout Adam Hayes. The 6-0, 175-pound Hayes will likely play defensive back or wide receiver for the Lights.
Hayes, who played quarterback for Chinook, earned Class C eight-man all-state honors and was selected to play in the 2005 Treasure State Classic this summer. Hayes helped guide the Beeters to a 9-1 overall record and a quarterfinal appearance in the Class C playoffs in 2005.
“I am really excited to be a part of the MSU-Northern football program,” Hayes said. “I wasn't sure if I would get a chance to play college football.
“But Coach Samson and the rest of the Lights staff have been great and they really treated me good,” he added. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Samson, and I am really excited to be a part of the great football program he has going.”
In addition to landing the local talents of Hayes, Samson also secured a trio of sought-after players from 2005 Class B state champion Cut Bank. Wide receiver Matt Stuart (5-10, 165), offensive lineman Matt Whelchel (6-3, 215) and linebacker Adam Warner (5-10, 190) were all considered key NAIA recruits and all three will be coming to Northern next fall.
Samson also tapped into a familiar high school to land a pair of talented linemen. Helena Capital stars Tom Kane (OL) and Jeff Mahana (DT) have decided to sign with the Bruins' former head coach, and both are expected to be impact players in the Lights' program.
Kane is an agile 6-3, 240-pound offensive lineman who is already experienced in an option attack and is a steady pass blocker. Mahana will play defense for the Lights and is already a physical specimen at 6-1, 240 pounds. Samson added one more Montana recruit in 6-1, 170-pound athlete Kane Russell of Columbus.
As evidence of the growth of the MSU-Northern program, Samson has also done a good job tapping into the Pacific Northwest for quality recruits this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Northern will certainly benefit from the size of 6-1, 265-pound defensive tackle Derek Deniston of Mead High School in Spokane, Wash. And 6-2, 250-pound defensive end Kenneth Ford of Idaho Falls High School will be expected to be a dominant pass rusher for the Lights in the not-so-distant future.
Having already signed a former Columbine High School transfer, Northern will also bring in two current Columbine seniors, defensive tackle Ty Campton (6-2, 250) and tight end Jake Smith (6-3, 245). Both Campton and Smith were all-league selections for Columbine, which is in Littleton, Colo.
Rounding out the list of out-of-state prep recruits is 6-3, 265-pound offensive lineman Mike Kirkpatrick from Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Samson is expected to announce at least 15 more high school recruits at the end of the month.