By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The MSU-Northern Lights football team has been busy perfecting their game in spring drills before heading into the summer.
The Lights will hold a Maroon and Gold Scrimmage on Thursday, April 20, at 6 p.m., at Blue Pony Stadium.
The Lights, who played their first season as a full member of the Frontier Conference last fall, finished the season 1-7 in conference play and 3-7 overall.
"The offense looks really good for us this spring," head coach Walt Currie said. "The offensive line is looking a lot better and it's nice to have returners who kind of know the system."
Some key returners to the team include Andy Smith, Dan Yeager, and Acey Koshatka, all of whom were named All-Conference at the end of the fall season.
Smith, a junior wide receiver next fall, led the Lights in all-purpose yards (122/game), receiving (114.9/game), and scoring (five points/game). He was named first team All-Conference.
Smith finished the season in the Frontier Conference ranked fifth overall in all-purpose yards, third in receiving, and 10th in scoring.
Yeager, a junior next fall, finished the season from his tight end position with 14.2 receiving yards per game. He was named second team All-Conference.
Koshatka finished the season ranked seventh in the Frontier Conference in fumbles recovered. He was also named to the second team All-Conference. However, he is currently out with a knee injury.
Here is how the offense stacks up at this time:
Strong tackle Rob Wynegar, 5-foot-3, Great Falls; Pat Gardner, 6-foot-4, Ronan; Eric Bush, 6-foot-4, Great Falls.
Strong guard Colter Epler, 6-foot-4, Helena; Justin Bertram, 6-foot-2, Kalispell.
Center/PAT Tanner Smith, 5-foot-11, Missoula.
Smith played 10 games last fall, completing 7-for-9 PAT attempts and went 1-for-1 on field goals.
Quick guard Koshatka, 6-foot-2, Eureka; Martin Leibrand, 6-foot-4, Scobey.
Tackle Cory Seilstad, 6-foot-1, Winifred; Nate Reinhardt, 6-foot-7, Glasgow.
Tight end Yeager, 6-foot-3, Choteau; Jeff Burt, 6-foot-2, Billings; Chris Lee, 6-foot, Sand Coulee.
Burt, also the punter, averaged 39.97 yards per game. He finished first in the league in punting.
Flanker T. Artis, 5-foot-7, Missoula; Brandon Kerkes, 6-foot-1, Centerville; Tyler Partridge, 5-foot-10, Glasgow.
Artis finished last season third on the team in receiving, averaging 27.5 yards per game.
He was second for the Lights in kick returns, averaging 32.6 yards on 20 returns. He was third on the team with 100.7 all-purpose yards. Artis also had 241 punt yards.
He was ranked third in the Frontier Conference in punt return, and seventh in all-purpose yards.
Fullback Scott Ramsey, 6-foot, Great Falls; Chad Olson, 5-foot-8, Great Falls; Steven Lee, 5-foot-9, LaMarque, Texas; Cole Rider, 6-foot-1, Cascade.
Quarterback Chris Jackson, 5-foot-10, Butte; Chris Hess, 5-11, Harlowton.
Jackson, the first-string quarterback last fall, led the team in total offense, averaging 205.3 yards per game. He was second in the Frontier Conference.
He also led the team in passing (175.3 yards/game). He was third in the conference.
Jackson was second on the team in scoring (2.4 points/game).
Hess is a new recruit from Harlowton High School. He was an All-State quarterback and defensive back during his senior year.
Tailback Travis Crawford, 5-foot-10, Great Falls; Richard Jarvis, 5-foot-7, Havre.
Crawford led the team in kick returns, averaging 57.2 yards per game.
He was second on the Lights' squad in rushing last season (27.5 yards/game). He was also second in receiving with 31.3 yards per game, and Crawford was second on the team, averaging 118.4 All-purpose yards.
Stacked up among other Frontier players, Crawford finished the season ranked sixth in all-purpose yards and eighth in rushing.
Wide receiver Andy Smith, 5-foot-10, Havre; Tanner Woodward, 6-foot-1, Frenchtown; Frank Doney, 6-foot-2, Hays/Lodgepole.
Travis Hille, a fine fullback for the Lights, suffered a career-ending injury and will not return next season.
Hille led the team in rushing last season.
"Basically, we are going to see how we are playing under game conditions," Currie said about the scrimmage. "We will get an idea of what areas we need to emphasize in the fall."
The Lights will return to fall practice on Aug. 14, with their first game at Havre on Sept. 2 against Western Montana College.