George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
First it was Carroll College and Rocky Mountain College quarterbacks Gary Wagner and Kasey Peters, respectively. Now MSU-Northern's Nick Petrino and Eastern Oregon's Justin Udy get their turn. Last week, the 2008 NAIA football season began and of the five first-time starting quarterbacks in the Frontier Conference, two (Wagner, Peters) went on the road and got impressive wins in their first-career starts. Wagner helped No. 1 Carroll to a 41-22 romp at nationally-ranked Azusa Pacific by throwing for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. The junior from Havre also ran for 73 yards and another score. It was the start to the Wagner era that Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest and the Saints, who are gunning for a sixth national title in seven years, were hoping for. Wagner replaces twoyear starter John Barnett, who led the Saints to the title last season. Meanwhile, Peters and the Bears trailed Dickinson State at halftime last Saturday, but like Wagner, he too had a strong outing and Rocky got a seasonopening win for the second straight season. On Saturday, the Lights and Mountaineers will trot out first-time quarterbacks for their season debuts. Northern will start redshirt freshmen Nick Petrino, a transfer from Georgetown, Ky., and the son of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino. After a closely contended battle in fall camp, Petrino won the starting job over junior Jeff Van Nest. "It was a tough decision," MSU-N head coach Mark Samson said. "They were pretty much dead even in almost every way, every day in camp." Petrino will makes his first start on Saturday as the Lights travel to 1-0 RMC in Billings. Meanwhile, EOU will go with either a sophomore with no starts in Udy or a true freshman this Saturday when it opens up at home with Montana Tech in LaGrande, Ore. The Orediggers are the only team in the Frontier that returned their starting quarterback from last season. But even Tech sophomore Matt Komac is young. Tech and Montana-Western will be hoping to bounce back from seasonopening nonconference losses. The Orediggers were the biggest surprise of the first week when they were beaten by un-ranked Southern Oregon 30-25 in Butte last Thursday. Now Tech will look to right the ship with the always-tough road trip to EOU. Western (0-1), which also went with a starting QB with no starts under his belt last week, opened with a 62-6 loss at Big Sky Conference member Weber State last Thursday. And things don't get any easier for the Bulldogs and firstyear head coach Rich Ferris as the No. 1 Saints come to Dillon on Saturday.