Being a standout prep athlete is a special thing. It is something so many athletes strive to be, but something only a few achieve in their short four years of action.
But as rare as it may be to send an athlete to the college ranks, Havre High and the surrounding Hi-Line schools have a pretty solid track record of producing college football players.
Right now there are 19 former high school football players from the Hi-Line playing for five different colleges across Montana and North Dakota. Havre High has seven alumni playing college football, while Chester/J-I has five, Chinook has two, Big Sandy has one,North Star has one and Harlem has one.
Rick Haluszka of Harlem has made the biggest leap as he lines up as a tight end for the Montana State Bobcats. Haluszka is in his junior year at MSU and has also been the holder on field goals and PATs the last three seasons.
But as Minot State University transitions into an NCAA Divisions II school, three former Blue Ponies have made North Dakota their new home.
CJ Evans was named the starting quarterback at Minot after a redshirt year at Montana State University-Northern, while Mike Hickman plays defensive back and Nate Christianson plays wide receiver for the Beavers. Those three former Blue Ponies will get to showcase their talents on a big stage this Saturday when the Beavers travel to Bozeman to take on the Montana State Bobcats.
Tyler Molyneaux, a former Chinook Sugar Beeter also plays linebacker for the Beavers after a very successful senior year that earned Molyneaux, as well as the rest of Chinook, a Class C state title.
The Montana State University-Northern Lights have always recruited Havre High and the Hi-Line well and the Lights house five former Hi-Line football players on their roster this season.
Former Havre High standouts Jordan Van Voast, Corderro Strickland and Tyson Gruber all are on the Lights' roster. And Chinook’s Chris Haider and Chester/J-I’s Cedric Pogue also made the cut this season. Van Voast is a starting linebacker for the Lights and was third on the team in total tackles a year ago. Strickland, Gruber and Pogue were recruited as wide receivers and Haider was recruited as a linebacker. Gruber is currently playing on special teams for the Lights while Strickland, Pogue and Haider are redshirting.
The C/J-I Hawks also have three players at Carroll College, one at Rocky Mountain College and one at Montana Tech.
Tyler Han is a wide receiver for the Fighting Saints, while Garrett Graff and Brandon Graff are both running backs in Helena. Matt Wicks is a linebacker for the Orediggers. Wicks is seeing plenty of action for the Orediggers and is one of their top linebackers. Bryant Ceynar is also a redshirt wide receiver at RMC.
And rounding out the Hi-Lines college football players, Big Sandy’s Taylor Ophus is a defensive lineman for the Orediggers as well, and Havre’s Will DeVries is an offensive lineman for the Saints. DeVries was a two-time all-state standout for the Ponies and he redshirted at Carroll a year ago, a year that got DeVries an NAIA national championship ring.
Former North Star three-sport standout Zach Halter is redshirt-freshman at Rocky and was given the chance to compete for the starting quarterback position last spring. Halter has since been moved to defensive back.
“Having any of your kids take their skills and exceed at the next level,”Havre High Principle Dennis Murphy said. “Is a great accomplishment for not only themselves, but their school and community also. There are a lot of people that help them get to that level and it carries on that tradition of your programs and schools.”