The Montana State University-Northern football season ended with a hard-fought, 42-24 loss to the second-ranked Carroll College Fighting Saints under gloomy skies Saturday afternoon at Blue Pony Stadium.
For me, no matter how successful a season is, and make no mistake, the Lights were successful this season, there’s always a feeling of emptiness for a moment when the season is over. I can’t help it. I just thoroughly enjoy covering college football and I have grown to really enjoy covering the Lights and the Frontier Conference that much more.
When Northern’s season ends like it did Saturday, at home on Senior Day, it’s additionally emotional. As a writer, you get to know some of the players, you get to see their college football journey’s up close and personal, and you’re always a little disappointed when seniors depart, knowing you won’t be covering them anymore.
And that was the case Saturday as the Lights said goodbye to a senior class of 10, all of whom have had a great impact on the program, and many of which I’ve grown to admire and respect.
Two of the most recent defensive stars in Northern history ended brilliant careers on Saturday afternoon. Will Andrews and Landry See played in their final games and thankfully, both left lasting impressions on a well-played game by the Lights.
In know Andrews and See well enough to know that more than anything, they would have liked to have gone out with a win _ but they went out like warriors none-the-less.
See has started every game in which he’s suited up for the Lights and will go down as one of the leading tacklers in Northern history — four years of being one of the elite linebackers in the NAIA.
A guy who goes out and plays with his hair on fire like See does on every down, year-after-year, I just couldn’t respect more. His streak of starts for the Lights has been one of the more impressive things I’ve seen in my six years of covering the program — and I’ve seen plenty of impressive things over that stretch. And seeing him leave it all on the field one last time against Carroll, seeing him make a ferocious hit, decleating Saints’ wide receiver Drew Clausen, it makes me proud that I was able to cover him for as long as I did.
The senior from Sandpoint, Idaho has had a profound impact on the Northern program, from starting as a freshman, to coming back from a serious leg injury to earning all-american honors in his comeback season, Andrews, like See has been a warrior in the Northern community.
But like See, he too is a great person, not just a great football player. Andrews been great with me and my staff, he’s been active in supporting Northern athletics in all seasons and I know he’s extremely well-liked throughout the campus and the community.
And he got one last shining moment Saturday. Despite a foot injury suffered last week against Rocky Mountain College, Andrews played every defensive snap on Saturday and had one of the biggest plays of the game when he recovered a Carroll fumble and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, his second touchdown in two years.
It was a glorious moment, and while I know being the competitor Will is, it was his team and the “W” which is what mattered most to him. But I couldn’t have been happier to see him make a play like that in his last game in Havre.
And interestingly, almost all of the Northern seniors had their moments Saturday.
The offensive line, three of which were playing Saturday were seniors, played well. Nick Weller, an emotional leader made some monster hits and led the Lights with seven tackles, Ryan Halko had five tackles, A.J. Pasalo made a couple and Tyson Lucier made a big play on special teams. It was fitting that every senior who played made a difference on Saturday. It was as it should be.
I can’t say enough about the respect I have for guys like See, Andrews, Weller, Zeb Olson, Jorge Magana and the rest. Whether it was two years or five, this senior class showed determination, character and dedication to this program. One characteristic is, many of the guys I just mentioned are some of the first guys to fill the student section for important Northern basketball and volleyball games. I've always taken notice of that and I've always appreciated it.
And I will miss covering those guys when next August rolls around and a new football season begins. I’ll miss being able to write about and interview two defensive greats like See and Andrews, who together, they represent the best of the type of player sportswriters love to cover.
Congratulations on great careers to both of them and to all the Northern seniors. You will all be missed.
I’m starting to miss it already.