George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
The Montana Grizzlies captured the 2007 Big Sky championship outright, with a perfect 11-0 record. So it's no surprise that the Griz dominated the 2007 All-Conference list released Monday afternoon. Highlighting the list for UM (11-0) was senior defensive end Kroy Biermann, who not only earned first-team honors, but was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year. Biermann, a leading candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, was a unanimous selection at the defensive end spot. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound senior from Hardin leads the Big Sky and ranks second in the nation with 15 sacks. He was one of eight players selected to the first team for a second time. Biermann closed the regular season with 59 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and a league-high five forced fumbles. Former Havre Blue Pony Marc Mariani was also part of the team. Mariani earned honorable mention return specialist after leading the league in punt return average. The sophomore from Havre had a breakout season for the Griz. "It's always an honor to be recognized with an award like this, especially being recognized by all of the other coaches around the league," Mariani said. "But when you win an award like this, it's really a testament to all of the guys on this team and how hard they all work." Joining Biermann on the first team are the following Grizzly teammates: junior offensive tackle Brent Russum, junior offensive guard J.D. Quinn, senior kicker Dan Carpenter of Helena, senior outside linebacker Loren Utterback of Fort Benton, junior safety Colt Anderson of Butte and senior punter Tyson Johnson of Frenchtown. Montana State had only one player named to the first time, as junior middle linebacker Bobby Daly of Helena was selected. Daly was the league's leading tackler with 135 and, like Biermann, is a contender for the Buck Buchanan Award, which recognizes the top defender in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA I-AA). Eight Montana Grizzlies and six Montana State Bobcats were named to the all-conference second team. Among them are UM's Ryan Bagley, Colin Dow, Cole Bergquist, Lex Hilliard, Craig Mettler, Tyler Joyce, Chris Clark and Torrey Thomas, and MSU's Jeff Hansen, Demetrius Crawford, Aaron Papich, Dane Fletcher, Epikopo King and Michael Beach. Eastern Washington's Matt Nichols earned the league's Offensive Player of the Year, and Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins was named the league's Newcomer of the Year.