It’s been nearly five months since the Montana State University-Northern football team last put their cleats in the turf. But on Friday afternoon, the Lights will get back at.
Northern is slated to open spring drills Friday afternoon at the MSU-Northern practice fields, the first of 15 practices the Lights will conduct over the next month.
MSU-N ended the 2012 season with a 3-7 record in the Frontier Conference, and veteran head coach Mark Samson saw a talented group of seniors and juniors exit the program, including Northern’s all-time leading rusher Stephen Silva and All-Conference wide receivers Brandon O’Brien and Kyle Johnston, as well as four-year starting offensive lineman Brock Hyder. On defense, the Lights lost stellar linebacker James Chandless and safety Matt Reyant, among others.
Still, the Lights return a strong senior class, including starting quarterback Derek Lear and three-year starter Orin Johnson, who does a little bit of everything for the Lights, as well as wide out Brandt Montelius and senior linebacker Jordan Van Voast. Also back is senior corner Tanner Varner and junior defensive back Josh Baum, both of whom are former all-conference standouts.
Add that to a stellar recruiting class, including several junior college transfers who will immediately impact the Lights this spring, and Samson is excited to get back to work.
“We have signed a solid recruiting class,” Samson said recently. “We are anxious to get out and start spring ball. We have had a great winter so far with our workouts and conditioning program and are very excited to get on the field and start playing football again.”
Weather permitting, the Lights will hold practices Friday-Monday, as well as March 27. They are also scheduled to practice April 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12. Northern will hold its first spring scrimmage on March 29 and another on April 10. The Lights will conclude spring practice with their annual Spring Scrimmage on April 13.
Northern is scheduled to open the 2013 Frontier Conference season Sept. 7 at Carroll College in Helena.