HELENA, Mont. (AP)
Montana had four selections and the Big Sky Conference dominated the 2008 Sports Network All-America football team announced Tuesday in Philadelphia. Montana safety Colt Anderson and guard Colin Dow were named to the first team; and receiver Marc Mariani and tackle Brent Russum were second-team selections. Mariani was also an honorable mention punt returner, while Grizzly quarterback Cole Bergquist and running back Chase Reynolds and center J.D. Quinn also were named honorable mention. Mariani had a huge junior campaign for the Grizzlies. The receiver from Havre racked up over 1,300 yards receiving and caught 15 touchdown passes. He had the second-most productive seasons as a wide receiver in Montana history. Mariani also excelled on returns, especially punts, where he returned two for scores late in the season, including a school-record 90-plus yarder in UM's win over Idaho State back in November. His season returning kicks put him in the top 10 nationally in all purpose yardage. Mariani went over 200 yards in a game twice this season, and he had an enormous outing in the FCS national championship game. In front of a national tv audience, he caught seven balls for 174 yards in Montana's 24-7 loss tot he Richmond Spiders. In 2009, Mariani will likely be a Payton award candidate and will be considered one of the top returning offensive players in the country. Montana State guard Jeff Hansen and linebacker Bobby Daly also earned honorable mention honors. Buck Buchanan Award winner Greg Peach, a defensive end for Eastern Washington, was another firstteam selection from the Big Sky Conference, along with cornerback K.J. Gerard of Northern Arizona. The Big Sky led all leagues with 17 selections to the three teams. The Colonial Athletic Association had 13 players chosen and the Southern Conference had 11 selections, including Appalachian State junior quarterback Armanti Edwards, winner of the 2008 Walter Payton Award. Weber State placed seven players on the All-America team, more than any other team in the nation. Although no Wildcat earned first-team honors, two earned second-team honors and five were named to the third team. Weber State placed a record 12 players on the Big Sky All-Conference first team in November. Weber State shared the Big Sky regular-season title with Montana, the Wildcats first conference title since 1968. Weber State advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1991, upsetting Cal Poly in the first round before falling to Montana in the quarterfinals. A total of 92 players were honored on the three teams.