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Northern seniors will be missed

 

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Time flies when you're playing college football. And on Saturday at Blue Pony Stadium, the 2010 Montana State University-Northern senior class will play their last home football game of their careers.

Six Lights will be honored before Saturday's game against Eastern Oregon, which kicks off at 12 p.m. inside Blue Pony Stadium.

And while it's a small class, all of the Lights who are playing their last game Saturday have had a lasting impact on the Northern program.

"It's a small group of seniors this year," MSU-N head coach Mark Samson said. "But as far as what they've accomplished during their time here, it's an important class.

"The kids who are walking out on senior day have all had really productive careers here, and they've all had a big impact on our program."

Saturday, the Lights will say goodbye to receiver Matt Stuart, from Cut Bank, defensive backs Casey Varner from Baker and K.C. Barrett from Red Lodge and defensive tackle Jeff Mahana from Helena. Juniors Kyle Kercher, a wide receiver and kicker, and Seth Wildung, MSU-N's strong safety, will also be playing in their last home game. While both players could play again next season, they are already finishing up their degrees at Northern and will be moving on.

And while the list of players exiting the program this season is indeed small, all six have been key players for the Lights for years.

Stuart and Mahana have been playing and starting for four years. Mahana has started on both the offensive and defensive lines in his time at Northern, while Stuart has been catching passes since he was a true freshman.

Varner is another senior who will be sorely missed. He too has been playing since his freshman season, and has been a starter the last three years at both corner and safety. In his final season, Varner is second in the NAIA with five interceptions and was MSU-N's second-leading tackler a year ago. Barrett has also been a standout at corner and on special teams the last three years for the Lights, while Wildung started his career at quarterback, but has been a starting safety the last two seasons, and has been a great player in Northern's defensive backfield.

And Kercher will be as missed as all the rest. He's started at receiver for three years and has been Northern's kicker as well. This season, he's perfect in both field goals and PAT's.

So while the list is certainly short, all of Northern's graduating players will not only be missed, but they will leave a lasting impact on the program for years to come.

"Every one of those guys are hard-working kids who have really played well in our program," Samson said. "But the best thing about each one of them is they are all excellent student-athletes and even better people. They have been a great group to coach and this program will miss all of them."

 
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