The Montana State University-Northern football team played at a very high level for much of the 2011 season. And the rest of the Frontier Conference coaches thought the Lights were pretty good too.
The Frontier released its 2011 All-Conference Team and postseason awards on Wednesday night and the list was filled with plenty of Lights. Northern had 12 players garner 14 all-conference awards — among them was senior Will Andrews who was named Frontier Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Andrews, who was a first-team selection at defensive end for the third time in his career, racked up a league-high seven sacks, as well as 12.5 tackles for loss this season. He also totaled 42 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
“It’s a huge honor to receive that award,” Andrews said. “There are so many good players in this league, so to be selected for this, it really means a lot.
“And this is an award I couldn’t have earned without my coaches and teammates,” he continued. “Football isn’t a single-man’s game. Everyone around you has to do their job for us to succeed, for me to succeed. So I’m really thankful and appreciative for my coaches and all the guys around me because I wouldn’t have succeeded without them. To finish my career like this, it feels really good.”
And the honors keep pouring in for the four-year starter from Sandpoint , Idaho. Andrews was also selected to play in the NCAA D2 vs NAIA Senior Bowl, which will be Dec. 3 in Middletown, N.Y.
In all, the Lights totaled nine first-team selections on the all-conference list.
Sophomore quarterback Derek Lear earned first-team honors, as did junior Stephen Silva at running back and junior Kyle Johnston at wide receiver. Rounding out the offensive first-team selections was senior offensive lineman Matt Cervenka and sophomore tight end Brian Torgerson. Cervenka is now a two-time all-conference selection.
Lear led the Frontier in passing and total offense on his way to a record-setting season. He tallied 2,872 total yards including a school-record 2,521 through the air. He threw for 19 touchdowns against 11 interceptions and completed 64 percent of his passes for 252.1 yards per game. Lear broke the MSU-N single-season mark for passing yards, previously held by Brandon Kerkes in 2001, and he broke Kyle Samson’s record for TD passes in a season. Samson threw 17 TD’s in 2006.
Silva also had a record-setting season. After rushing for 1,105 yards, Silva broke Justin Moe’s 2008 record of 1,082 yards in a season, and he also became Northern’s all-time leading rusher with a full season to go. Silva joined Carroll’s Chance Demarias as a first-team running back after he received second-team honors a year ago. Johnston grabbed 44 passes for 793 yards and five TD’s. He led the Frontier with 18.9 yards per catch and was second at 79.3 yards per game. Johnston also received second-team honors as a both a kick returner and punt returner. Joining Johnston on the first team was Carroll’s Matt Ritter and Rocky Mountain College’s A.J. Tolbert. Torgerson, a native of Helena, finished the year with 18 catches for 195 yards but was known as the best blocking tight end in the Frontier.
Northern had four first-team nods on defense. Joining Andrews were senior linebacker Landry See, sophomore linebacker Jordan Van Voast and sophomore cornerback Tanner Varner.
See is a four-time all-conference selection and he now holds MSU-N school records for tackles in a single season and tackles in a career. In 2011, See totaled 96 tackles, which was second in the Frontier, as well as 10 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Van Voast, a former Havre High standout racked up 74 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded 1.5 sacks in his second season as a starter. Varner led MSU-N with two interceptions, but he totaled 35 tackles and spent the season covering the best Frontier’s best receivers.
Northern had a pair of offensive linemen earn second-team offensive honors in senior Jorge Magana and junior Brock Hyder. Magana was also an all-conference selection at center a year ago. Along with Johnston’s honors on special teams, MSU-N junior kicker Juan Garcia, a native of Pacifica, Calif., was also named second-team all-conference at kicker. Garcia handled the kicking and punting duties for the Lights all season, making four field goals and recording 30 PAT’s.
Five Lights repeated as all-conference performers this season in Andrews, See, Silva, Magana and Cervenka. Other Repeat all-conference honorees this year also included Eastern Oregon QB Chris Ware, a four-time selection, who was named second-team offensive this season. Fellow EOU running back Kevin Sampson also made the list for a second straight season as did fellow Mounties Dillon Bedford (TE), Marc-Avery Airhart (LB) and Max Hannah (DB). Carroll’s Connor Goudreau (OL), Zach Zosel (OL), Brian Strobel (DB), Ted Morigeau (DB) and Thomas Robison (LB) also made the list for a second straight season, as did Rocky’s Dima Vasilievskiy (OL), Phil Urlacher (DE) and Thomas Ackerman (DB), Western’s Peni Tuifuna and Deryk Van Zee (P), as well as Montana Tech’s Trent Thomas (WR).
Demarias earned Frontier Offensive Player of the Year. The junior from Malta led the league and the NAIA in rushing with 1,502 yards and 16 touchdowns, all while missing some time with injuries. He also caught two TD passes. Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest was named Coach of the Year after leading the Saints to a 12th straight Frontier title.
The Lights, who went 5-5 this season and finished third in the Frontier, tied Carroll with the most all-conference selections at 14. EOU had nine honorees while Rocky had eight. UM-Western had five selected while Montana Tech had five.
2011 Frontier All Conference
QB – Derek Lear, MSU-Northern, So., Fairfield
RB – Chance Demarias, Carroll, Jr., Malta, MT
RB – Stephen Silva, MSU-Northern, Jr., Bakersfield, Calif.
TE – Brian Torgerson, MSU-Northern, So., Helena, MT
WR – Kyle Johnston, MSU-Northern, Jr., Redding, Calif.
WR – Matt Ritter, Carroll, Sr., Butte, MT
WR – A.J. Tolbert, Sr., Compton, Calif.
OL – Matt Cervenka, MSU-Northern, Redding, Calif.
OL – Conner Goudreau, Carroll, Jr., Campbell, Calif.
OL – Will Hunter, Eastern Oregon, Jr., Oak Harbor, Wash.
OL - Dima Vasilevskiy, Rocky Mountain, Sr., Venice, Calif.
OL – Zach Zosel, Carroll, Sr., Eugene, Ore.
QB – Chris Ware, Eastern Oregon, Sr., Rainier, Ore.
RB – Pat Hansen, Montana Tech, Fr., Ekalaka, MT
RB – Kevin Sampson, Eastern Oregon, Sr., Seattle, Wash.
TE – Dillon Bedford, Eastern Oregon, Sr., Arroyo, Calif.
WR – Abraham Naway, Eastern Oregon, So., Boise, Idaho
WR – Levi Sutton, Rocky Mountain, Sr., Billings, MT
WR – Trent Thomas, Montana Tech, Jr. Deer Lodge, MT
OL – Sonny Akhul, Rocky Mountain, So., Makawao, HI
OL – Justin Cossey, UM-Western, Sr., Kapolei, HI
OL – Brock Hyder, MSU-Northern, Jr., Boise, Idaho
OL – Jorge Magana, MSU-Northern, Sr., Oakley, Calif.
OL – Nick Petrusha, Carroll, Sr., Helena, MT.
DL – Will Andrews, MSU-Northern, Sr., Sandpoint, Idaho
DL – Jacob Scharbrough, Rocky Mountain, So., Weiser, Idaho
DL – Peni Tuifua, UM-Western, Sr., Kailua, HI
DL – Phil Urlacher, Rocky Mountain, Sr., Pasco, Wash.
LB – Marc-Avery Airhart, Eastern Oregon, Sr., Renton, Wash.
LB – Landry See, MSU-Northern, SR., Hillsboro, Ore.
LB – Jordan Van Voast, MSU-Northern, So., Havre, MT
LB – Thomas Robison, Carroll, Sr., Pocatello, Idaho
DB – J.T. Fitzgerald, Rocky Mountain, Sr., Bellingham, Wash.
DB – Max Hannah, Eastern Oregon, So., Ferndale, Wash.
DB – Brian Strobel, Carroll, Jr., Kettle Falls, Wash.
DB – Tanner Varner, MSU-Northern, So., Baker, MT.
DL – Mike Goings, Eastern Oregon, Sr., Puyallup, Wash.
DL - Marcus Johnson, Montana Tech, Sr., Billings, MT
DL – Noah McWilliams, Carroll, Sr., Homer, AK.
DL – Wes Orr, Eastern Oregon, Fr., Deary, Idaho
DL – Spencer Savage, Carroll, Sr., Spokane, Wash.
LB – Travis Bertelsen, Rocky Mountain, So., Wibaux, MT
LB – Joe Dunning, Carroll, Jr., Billings, MT
LB – Kasey Griffith, UM-Western, So., Emmett, Idaho
LB – Connor O’Neil, Montana Tech, Sr., Butte, MT
DB – Thomas Ackerman, Rocky Mountain, Jr., Billings, MT
DB – Nathan Kobold, Montana Tech, Jr., Billings, MT
DB – Ted Morigeau, Carroll, Sr., Polson, MT
DB – Mike Siegersma, Carroll, So., Nampa, Idaho
P – Deryk Van Zee, UM-Western, Sr., Billings, MT
K – Yim Sirbenjakul, UM-Western, Jr., Superior, MT
KR – Eric Buer, Rocky Mountain, So., Worden, MT
PR – Travis Bertelsen, Rocky Mountain, So., Wibaux, MT
P – Isiah Linnell, Carroll, Jr., Eureka, MT
K – Juan Garcia, MSU-Northern, Jr., Pacifica, Calif.
KR – Kyle Johnston, MSU-Northern, Jr., Redding, Calif.
PR – Kyle Johnston, MSU-Northern, Jr., Redding, Calif.