George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
With less then two weeks to the start of fall camp, the Montana State University- Northern football team has added a pair of players which should excite Lights fans right away. Due to an unusual set of circumstances, MSU-N is now the football and educational destination for 2008 Havre High graduate and Blue Pony standout Kyle Finneman. It was just a few months ago that Finneman was signed by the University of Montana and head coach Bobby Hauck to punt for the Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse Grizzlies. However, due to an NCAA rule change that says a student/athlete must have 16 core high school credits to participate in NCAA Division I athletics, Finneman became ineligible to play at Montana this fall. The rule change went into effect on Aug.1, with the old rule being that the student/athlete had to have 14 core credits, a requirement Finneman met when he was signed by UM. "It's disappointing that I'm not going to Missoula," Finneman said. "That's the way it worked out though, and I'm excited for the opportunity to go to Northern. I'm looking forward to just getting to play football. That's what this is all about, playing football." MSU-N head coach Mark Samson, who said Finneman will likely play wide receiver for the Lights as well as possibly punting, is also looking forward to having Finneman in camp next week and seeing the former HHS Central A All-Conference player in a Lights' uniform. "Kyle is a tremendous athlete and I believe he will bring a great deal to our program," Samson said. "He is a player who can provide depth for us at more than one position because of his punting, and we're excited about having him in our program. I think it will be good for him because he's been around our program and he is familiar with our team and our coaching staff." Finneman was one of the most versatile players in recent HHS history. In three seasons, he earned Class A All- State honors as a punter, linebacker and running back. He was also a receiver, and he quarterbacked the Blue Ponies last fall, his senior season. Finneman is also a former Class A state champion sprinter, winning the 100 and 200 meters as a sophomore. He also played on the HHS basketball team last winter. Another late addition to the MSUN roster is a name many football fans might already be familiar with. Nick Petrino, a freshman quarterback has joined the MSU-N roster. Petrino is the son of current University of Arkansas head coach and former Louisville and Atlanta Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino, originally from Helena. After an outstanding career at Trinity High School in Louisville, Kent., where he led his team two back-to-back state championships in football, while being named a Kentucky All-State quarterback. He was also a Max Preps Kentucky Player of the Year selection and played in the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star Game. P e t r i n o red-shirted at NAIA powerhouse Georgetown of Kentucky last fall. He then transferred to Arkansas Tech to be closer to his family after Bobby Petrino had agreed to become the Razorbacks new head coach. The 5-9, 185-pound Petrino will have four years of eligibility at MSU-N. "He's an outstanding player. And a quarterback with a really strong arm," Samson said. "He's been around football and has been coached and has learned from some great football people all his life and he is a player who really understands the game. "Nick is coming in here knowing we have a quarterback already," he added. "But he is excited about the opportunity to be here in our program and compete, and he will add a lot of depth to our offense." Northern, which finished in a tie for third place in the Frontier Conference last season, opens fall camp on Aug. 15. The Lights don't play their first game until Sept. 6 at Rocky Mountain College.