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2018 Frontier Football Preview: Quarterback battles will be waged all over the Frontier

As fall camps near, few teams in the Frontier are set at quarterback

 

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Tommy Wilson threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Montana State University-Northern Lights in 2017. Wilson, along with Bryce Missey and a pair of incoming freshman, will be battling for the starting QB position for new head coach Andrew Rolin when MSU-N's fall camp opens Aug. 4.

For the past three or four summers, the majority of head coaches in the Frontier Conference knew exactly what they had going into a new season as it pertained to the most important position on the field - the quarterback.

This summer, however, things are a lot different.

It's widely known around these parts that the Montana State University-Northern Lights have a major quarterback competition going into new head coach Andrew Rolin's first fall camp, which is just two weeks away. But the Lights are far from the only team in the Frontier that is going through the summer with a question mark at QB1.

As a matter of fact, only Eastern Oregon and College of Idaho return their full-time signal callers from a season ago, while powerhouses Southern Oregon and Montana Tech are programs searching for replacements to two of the most productive quarterbacks in their school's history.

At SOU, second-year head coach Charlie Hall must replace the graduated Tanner Trosin, who threw for 4,516 yards and 31 touchdowns a year ago. Trosin started every game for the Raiders a year ago, after missing 2016 with an injury. SOU's fall quarterback battle will likely come down to sophomores Wyatt Hutchinson (6-2, 190) and Jaylen Tregele (6-1, 215), both of whom got major reps back in the spring. And whoever wins that job will be charged with keeping the Raiders' offense at an elite level, as it has been for years now.

Montana Tech head coach Chuck Morrell is also looking for a new man to run the Oredigger offense. If Tech is to vie for the Frontier title, and return to the playoffs this season, the Diggers will have to do it without three-year starter and All-American Quinn McQueary, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 23 TDs, while rushing for almost a 1,000 more as a senior.

Tech has a trio of candidates competing for the starting job this fall, including red-shirt freshman Tanner Kump (6-0, 185), and kicker/quarterback Danny Peoples (6-0, 180). Peoples, a former Butte Central Maroon, originally signed to play for the University of Montana, but transferred home two years ago. He is excepted to be Tech's placekicker this season.

UM-Western must also place an ultra-productive QB in the departed Bennett Gibson, who was second in passing in the Frontier a year ago, throwing for over 3,000 yards. The Bulldogs have three QBs on their roster in Jon Jund, Sean Miller and Blake Sentman.

Two teams expected to contend for the Frontier title this season will also have a battle at the QB position when fall camp opens. Rocky Mountain College doesn't have unknowns at QB however, instead, the Battlin' Bears and head coach Jason Petrino have two known quantities in senior Jacob Bakken (6-1, 190) and sophomore Drew Korf (6-1, 185). Bakken opened last season as Rocky's starter, but Korf took over for the injured Bakken mid-season and wound up throwing for 1,595 yards and 14 scores in a total of eight games.

Carroll College has two good ones battling it as well, though sophomore Reese Hiibel (6-1, 175), who started games as a freshman, is listed on the roster both as a QB and DB. That could be because the Saints are high on NCAA Division I transfer Robert Kvinsland (6-3, 225), who comes to Helena from the Big Sky's Idaho State University. Kvinsland is a prep teammate of Carroll star running back Major Ali and was impressive in the spring, as he shared reps with Hiibel and sophomore Koby Killoy.

Meanwhile, there are teams that feel pretty set at QB heading into the new season. C of I returns junior starter Darius James-Peterson (5-11, 190), who threw for 1,820 yards and eight scores, while finishing second in the Frontier in rushing in the Yotes' triple-option attack with 1,011 yards and 12 more scores. Eastern Oregon returns a similar type at QB in sophomore Kai Quinn, who threw for 2,392 yards nine scores and rushed for 870 more yards a season ago. Quinn finished third in the Frontier in total offense a season ago behind only Trosin and McQueary.

And finally, there's Northern. Rolin, too, inherits a returning starter. In fact, both Tommy Wilson and Bryce Missey started games for the Lights a year ago, while Dylan Cook saw plenty of action under center as well. All three battled this spring with the quarterback job open again, and, at least two of them will do it again in fall camp, only they'll be joined by UM-Western transfer and former Columbia Falls All-Stater Dakota Bridwell, as well as Sebastool, California standout Brendan Medina.

"Tommy and Bryce have worked their tails off this summer, and they both were really strong in the spring," Rolin said. "Dylan (Cook) is going to be switching positions for us, and we'll have two freshmen coming in that will certainly get plenty of reps in camps, and they will be given every opportunity to earn the job.

"It will be a good competition," Rolin added, "all of our position battles will be, and that's what we want is to compete every day. We've already been building that through spring ball and through this summer. We have a ton of guys already here, and not just our returning guys, but a lot of the new guys we signed have been here since July and they've been really committed this summer. They're working hard every day, and that's only going to make us better."

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of position stories on the upcoming Frontier Conference football season. For a look at the top defensive linemen in the Frontier, see Thursday's Havre Daily News.

 

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