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Helena's Arntson to interview for MSU-N head football job


November 30, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Highly successful Helena High head coach Tony Arntson is a candidate for the vacant head coaching job at Montana State University-Northern. Arntson will be in Havre Friday to interview for the position and will meet the public at 4:30 p.m. in Hensler Auditorium.

The search for the next head coach of the Montana State University-Northern football team is heating up. And the first name to truly emerge is a big one, and familiar to many in the Treasure State.

Wednesday, Northern Athletic Director Christian Oberquell said that Helena High head coach Tony Arntson will be in Havre to interview and meet the public Friday. Arntson is the first candidate to come for an on-campus interview following Aaron Christensen's resignation in October.

Arntson has been the head coach at Helena High for 24 years, and he's had incredible success, even in the face of a dominant run by crosstown rival Helena Capital in late 1990s and 2000s. And that success includes just this fall when Arntson's Bengals reached the Class AA state championship game, before falling to back-to-back champion Billings Senior.

Under Arntson, Helena High has been a perennial playoff contender, and since 2002, the Bengals have made 14 trips to the AA playoffs. His Bengals also reached the championship game in 2010, and in just the last decade, the Bengals have gone to the semifinals or better eight times. Arntson, who started at Helena High in 1994, also took the Bengals to the title game in 1998 and 2001.

Arntson's coaching pedigree is also an outstanding one. He was a product of the legendary Jack Johnson's CMR Rustlers program, where he was a Class AA All-State standout. After graduating from CMR, Arntson went on to a successful career as a Montana Grizzly. His freshman season, he played quarterback and appeared in four games for the Grizzlies, but, in 1985, he was moved to running back in new head coach Don Read's offense.

After his days as a Grizzly were done, Arntson returned to Great Falls to begin his coaching career under Johnson at CMR, where he was once a state champion QB for the Rustlers. Eventually, he moved on to be the head coach at Charlo, before being hired as the head man at Helena High at just the age of 27.

"Trust me, I could always tell he was going to be a coach, a great coach," said Brad Salonen in an interview with the Kaiman, a former standout Griz linebacker who played with Arntson from 1985 to 1988. "He really was a player coach on the field. The guy was like a sponge; anything you told him in the film room, he wanted to see what he could do with it."

Arntson will be on campus all day Friday, and will meet the public at a forum in Hensler Auditorium, starting at 4:30 p.m.


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