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Griz picked second, Cats third


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University of Montana senior defensive end Zach Wagenmann, left, has been named the Big Sky Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

The Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats won’t begin prepping for the 2014 Big Sky Conference football season for a few more weeks. But the talk and preseason awards are now out of the way.

The Big Sky Conference held its annual Summer Kickoff media event Monday and Tuesday in Park City, Utah, where the Preseason Coaches and Media Polls were released, as well as the Big Sky’s Preseason All-Conference Team.

In the preseason polls, released Tuesday afternoon, the Grizzlies were picked second and the Bobcats third by both the media and coaches. Montana finished second and MSU third a year ago. Eastern Washington received all but one vote in both polls as the choice to win the Big Sky for the second straight season. Cal Poly, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah rounded out the top six in both polls. The Griz wound up finishing 10-3 a season ago, losing to Coastal Carolina in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. MSU was 9-4 and didn’t make the FCS playoffs.

Individually, the Griz had five players and MSU four selected to the 2014 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team. The highlight for Montana was senior defensive end Zack Wagenmann being selected as the Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Wagenmann has earned First-Team All-Conference honors each of the last two seasons and was recently named to the 20-man Buck Buchanan Watch List. That award is given each season to the FCS’ top defensive player. Reigning Big Sky MVP, Eastern Washington junior quarterback Vernon Adams, was picked as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Joining Wagenmann on the all-conference list for 2014 is fellow senior defenders Tonga Takai (DT) and Matt Hermanson (S), as well as junior wide receiver Ellis Henderson and senior offensive guard Trevor Poole.

Montana State had four players make the list, including senior cornerback Deonte Flowers, who is arguably one of the top returning defensive backs in the conference. Senior running back Shawn Johnson also got the nod as a return specialist, while sophomore guard JP Flynn was named on offense, and junior backup running back Chad Newell made the list on special teams. MSU has had the last two Buchanan Award winners in Brad Daly (2014) and Caleb Schreibeis (2013).

The Grizzlies open the 2014 season Aug. 30 at Wyoming, while the Bobcats open the same day at Arkansas State.

2014 Big Sky Preseason Football Polls

Coaches' Poll

1. Eastern Washington 12 144

2. Montana 1 130

3. Montana State 111

4. Cal Poly 108

5. Northern Arizona 100

6. Southern Utah 89

7. Sacramento State 79

8. Portland State 71

9. UC Davis 66

10. North Dakota 34

11 Weber State 30

12. Idaho State 28

13. Northern Colorado 23

Media Poll

1. Eastern Washington 34 464

2. Montana 1 416

3. Montana State 1 364

4. Cal Poly 329

5. Northern Arizona 328

6. Southern Utah 299

7. UC Davis 228

8. Portland State 227

9. Sacramento State 222

10. Idaho State 124

11 North Dakota 121

12. Weber State 103

13. Northern Colorado 61

2014 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team

Offensive MVP – Vernon Adams, Sr., QB, Eastern Washington

Defensive MVP – Zack Wagenmann, Sr., DE, Montana


QB *#Vernon Adams Jr. Pasadena, Calif. Eastern Washington

RB Kristaan Ivory Sr. Los Angeles, Calif. Cal Poly

RB Gabe Manzanares Sr. San Francisco, Calif. UC Davis

FB Nick Butier Jr. San Luis Obispo, Calif Northern Arizona

TE #R.J. Rickert Sr. Gilbert, Ariz. Northern Arizona

OG Trevor Poole Sr. Spokane, Wash. Montana

OG Cornelius Edison Sr. University Place, Wash. Portland State

OG JP Flynn So. Bettendorf, Iowa Montana State

C *Roy Garcia Sr. Tempe, Ariz. Northern Arizona

OT *Clay DeBord Jr. Asotin, Wash. Eastern Washington

OT Jacob Julian So. Prescott, Ariz. Northern Arizona

WR *#Cooper Kupp So. Yakima, Wash. Eastern Washington

WR #DeAndre Carter Sr. San Jose, Calif. Sacramento State

WR Ellis Henderson Jr. Portland, Ore. Montana

PK *Brady Stuart Jr. Newhall, Calif. UC Davis

Returns #Shawn Johnson Sr. Bakersfield, Calif. Montana State


DE *#Zack Wagenmann Sr. Missoula, Mont. Montana

DE James Cowser Jr. Fruit Heights, Utah Southern Utah

DT Tonga Takai Sr. Honolulu, Hawai'i Montana

DT Dylan Zylstra Sr. Kent, Wash. Eastern Washington

LB Ronnie Hamlin Sr. Lacey, Wash. Eastern Washington

LB Austin Hasquet Sr. Peoria, Ariz Northern Arizona

LB Nick Dzubnar Sr. Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Cal Poly

LB Leilon Willingham Sr. Denver, Colo. Northern Colorado

CB Deonte Flowers Sr. San Diego, Calif. Montana State

CB Deon'tae Florence Sr. Largo, Fla. Weber State

S Matt Hermanson Sr. Sioux Falls, S.D. Montana

S Tevin McDonald Sr. Fresno, Calif. Eastern Washington

P #Kyle Loomis Sr. Roseburg, Ore. Portland State

Special Teams – Chad Newell So. Billings, Mont. Montana State

*Unanimous selection

#2013 First Team All-Conference


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