By Alan Sorensen
The young Montana State University-Northern Lights may be able to turn their youth and inexperience to their advantage in Saturday's game against Southern Oregon. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
In only its second season as a Frontier Conference NAIA squad, the Lights have proven they can play the game.
They lost a squeaker early on to a highly touted and ranked Dickinson State. And they took the measure early on of Western Montana College. In last week's Thursday night televized game, they took their game to Dillon and took the air out of the Bulldogs' ball.
"What made that game last week was our defense was so outstanding," head coach Walt Currie said. "We had 14 sacks on the quarterback, one of the main reasons we did so well."
Thursday's victory delivered a couple of firsts to Northern. For the first time in recent history, Northern ended up with both of the Frontier Conference players of the week.
Sophomore quarterback Brendon Kerkes took the nod on offense and freshman defensive tackle Bomont Somerfeld was tabbed on defense.
"We had three of them last year," Currie said in a telephone interview Thursday. "That makes three this year."
The other first was taking a TV win.
"That was a first, too, winning on TV," Currie said. "The last few times we played on TV we got beat bad."
Saturday's game looks to be played in decent weather cloudy but not too wet with two teams that are pretty much ignorant of each other. It could provide great action.
"We expect a pretty good football team out of Southern Oregon," Currie said. "They were rated in the top 12 early in the year. I know they're a pretty decent football team. We've seen them on film.
"I rate them in the same caliber as the upper teams in the Frontier," he said. "They're pretty balanced. They're pretty equal. They run as much as pass this year."
When talking of the Lights, Currie is pleased with his team's defense how the offense has come along in all areas.
As Kerkes has developed as a passer, his corps of receivers has grown and improved. Among those who have provided alternatives to Northern's star receiver, junior Andy Smith of Havre are Tanner Woodward, a 5-11, 186 pound freshman wide receiver out of Frenchtown, and T Artis, a 5-10, 166 pound sophomore out of Missoula.
Jeff Burt, a tight end originally from Havre but Billings now, has come up with some good plays for the Lights, too, Currie said.
"Our backs coming out of the backfield are our top receivers now," he said, and singled out Scott Ramsey, a junior fullback from Great Falls. "I also throw to my wing backs, Travis Crawford of Great Falls and Richard Jarvis of Havre."
Currie said he's gratified by how the team has come together and shown its toughness.
"We had a few tough weeks there, but they rallied and came back against Western, playing on the road," Currie said. "The best game they've had up until now. That game, I'm hoping to build on it."