Historic rivalry returns between Montana Western and Montana Tech | Frontier Conference
BUTT – Montana Tech fans have packed Bob Green Field for the 2021 season opener against Eastern Oregon and are expected to do so again for Saturday’s return game against Montana Western at 1 p.m. ET.
Participation in the historic rivalry is expected to be so high that the southern HPER field will be opened up for extensive tailgating space. The HPER south and traditional tailgating area will open at 10:30 a.m., according to Montana Tech Sports Information.
âComing home is a big deal. There is a ton of pride here and the former Diggers will be returning for the game. We expect a sold-out crowd,â said Montana Tech coach Kyle Samson. . “For me it’s a tradition and a pride, our kids are really excited to represent all of the Diggers who have come before us.”
Montana Western (3-1) beat MSU-Northern 42-28 last week while Montana Tech (1-2) won their first game of the season and their first with Samson as head coach last week against Rocky Mountain Middle School. The two teams last met in 2019 when the Orediggers won 35-12.
Samson said the 2019 game didn’t have much of an impact on how his team viewed Saturday’s game as the Bulldogs are a big challenge this year. For Western coach Ryan Nourse, the rivalry has been filled with fond memories dating back to his days as a player.
“It’s one of the best small college rivalries, if not one of the best in all of college football,” Nourse said. “We’ve faced each other so many times and we’re on the right track, I mean, what a great day.”
âI remember playing Tech in the early 90s,â Nourse continued. âI’m still talking about the 1994 game where we played through a giant snowstorm. They had to plow the field over and over again, people were doing snow angels and stuff like you know. one of the best games I can remember. “
Unlike the 1994 game, weather is unlikely to be a major factor on Saturday. The temperature should be around 70 degrees with a clear sky, which could be a perfect gaming experience for fans.
While Saturday’s game will feature homecoming festivities and a party atmosphere for Montana Tech, the game also provides Montana Western fans with an exciting day to look forward to. According to Nourse, western Montana football has always been a big part of the Dillon community.
âWestern football has been part of the fabric of Dillon since the inception of Dillon,â said Nourse. “It’s a big part of who we are. The community is proud of our results and the university and this team are proud of the community.”
But the Montana Tech crowd will be a test for the Nourse team. He said the match will be an opportunity to assess the maturity of the team and its ability to perform in a difficult environment.
Despite being ranked 23rd in the NAIA, Nourse said his team have struggled to stay consistent this season. After shutting out MSU-Northern for a half last week, the Bulldogs allowed 28 points in the second half and a late scare.
âWe know we are a good team, but we still have a way to go to see if we are a good team,â said Nourse. “But we have a good test coming up against Tech, which might be the best test we get all year.”
Nourse stressed the importance of containing the Montana Tech ground game and receiving the core. The Bulldogs were edged out by MSU-Northern where they allowed 429 total yards of attack.
Colton McPhee started his college debut last week and had a terrific outing where he ran for 161 yards and a touchdown. While McPhee could prove to be a challenge to contain for Montana Tech, Bulldogs quarterback Jon Jund’s air attack resulted in four touchdowns, but also three interceptions, last week.
The Bulldogs will also need to consider Montana Tech quarterback Jet Campbell, who has improved throughout the season according to Samson. Last week he had 182 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 43 yards and one touchdown.
âJet had a great game last week and that’s one of the main reasons we won the game,â said Samson. “He looked after the ball really well and if you want to be successful in this conference your quarterback has to really perform. He did it last week.”
Samson also said the key to winning Saturday will be winning the sales battle and getting off to a quick start. Special teams will also play an important role for Montana Tech, as forcing a bad position on the field could be important against the Bulldogs’ defense.
While Montana Tech has only one win to date, Samson has continued to apply his family approach to the season. He wanted his team to play together, just like he encouraged fans to come and play.
âI think we have to go out and enjoy playing the game and playing it together,â Samson said. “We’re really excited to be back home, we’re excited to see all the big Butte fans. We’re playing for them and we can’t wait to see them on Saturday afternoon.”