George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
Frontier Conference fans and a lot of the NAIA will be focused on Saturday's matchup between No. 1 Carroll College and No. 15 Montana State University- Northern in Havre, but the rest of the league will have important games of its own. While it's true that the league title could conceivably be decided by the winner of Saturday's game between the Lights (2-0) and Saints (3-0), the other two games on tap this weekend could have lasting implications as well. In Billings, two teams that are looking to go in the same direction will clash when Rocky Mountain College (1-2) faces Montana Tech (1-2). After a hot start and a near-miss at home against Northern two weeks ago, the Bears are looking to rebound from their dismal performance last Saturday at Carroll against a Tech team still searching for an identity. RMC quarterback Kasey Peters leads the league and is near the top of the NAIA in most passing categories, while the Orediggers are hoping quarterback Matt Komac, the league's only returning starter gets back on track. Tech lost its first two games of the season and turned the ball over nine times in the process. The Diggers' offensive struggles continued last week in a 21-17 win over UM-Western, and at stake in Billings is quite possibly the season for the loser. If Tech or RMC has any hopes of pushing for a conference championship, a playoff berth and perhaps a winning season, neither can afford to lose on Saturday. Meanwhile, in Dillon, UM-Western will try to avoid an 0-4 start when the Bulldogs host Eastern Oregon (1-1). After a fast start at home against Tech, the Mounties were slowed down at MSU-N last week, committing five turnovers and gaining less than 200 yards on offense. Still, EOU's run defense looked good for a second straight week, holding Northern to a net of 66 yards on the day. And the run game seems to be the only weapon the Bulldogs have right now with tailback Derrick Pluff carrying the bulk of the Western offensive load. Like in Billings, the winner in Dillon still has a chance at some success this season, while the loser will find itself looking up at the rest of the conference. Of course all eyes will be on Havre this week as the Saints and Lights meet for the first time this season. Both defenses come in playing well as expected, but interestingly, it's the offenses that might have something to say in a series usually dominated by who can get to 10 points first. MSU-N's Justin Moe leads the league in rushing at 121 yards per game, as well as scoring at 15.0 points per game. Meanwhile, the Saints are getting their yards on the ground by committee from Gabe Le, Sean Herrin and John Camino, while their passing game looks to be in good shape, despite the seasonending injury to starter and possible offensive player of the year candidate Gary Wagner. Through two games of relief duty true freshman quarterback Dane Broadhead has played well for the Saints. But fans in Havre can expect to see some of true freshman backup Matt Ritter. Havre High fans might remember Ritter from his days quarterbacking Butte Central. Of course, both defenses are in good hands as usual, and Northern has league leaders in Stetson Koffman in tackles and Will Andrews in sacks. Special teams will also come into play. Carroll's Zach Thiry is an allamerican punter and Travis Browne might just be the top kick returner in the league. MSU-N has been successful in its kicking rotation with Luke McKinley and Kyle Kercher on field goals and Will Andrews and Kyle Finneman punting. Finneman booted several great punts in Northern's win over EOU last Saturday in Havre. As always, Northern is hoping for a record crowd for their meeting with the Saints on Saturday.