George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
The Big Sky Conference has announced its preseason picks for 2009, and to no surprise, former Havre High standout Marc Mariani received plenty of praise. Mariani, a senior for the University of Montana was named to the Big Sky's Preseason All-Conference team as a wide receiver and return specialist for 2009. In 2008, as a junior, Mariani was a unanimous First Team All Big Sky pick at both positions. Mariani was one of four Grizzlies selected as preseason all conference for 2009. Joining him are running back Chase Reynolds, offensive lineman Levi Horn and linebacker Shawn Lebsock. Montana State had four selections, led by Buck Buchanon Award nominee Dane Fletcher at defensive end. Guard Jeff Hansen, kicker Jason Cunningham and safety Kevin Retoriano were the other Bobcats named to the preseason team. The league's coaches and media also released their annual preseason polls for the upcoming season, and the Grizzlies were almost a unanimous choice to capture their 12th straight Big Sky title in both polls. Montana got all the votes in the media poll and all but two first-place votes in the coaches poll. Montana State was picked third by the media and fourth by the coaches. Defending regular season champion Weber State was picked second in both polls. Montana opens its season Sept. 5 against Western State in Missoula. The Bobcats open their season on the same day at Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. The Bobcats home opener is Sept. 12 against Dixie State.