Bozeman’s O’Reilly pledges to hometown Bobcats

Read More After earning Class AA all-state honors, Bozeman High quarterback Callahan O'Reilly has given his verbal commitment to Montana State/ contributed by Shellenberg Photography
After earning Class AA all-state honors, Bozeman High quarterback Callahan O'Reilly has given his verbal commitment to Montana State/ contributed by Shellenberg Photography

Callahan O’Reilly has an athletic frame and the potential to play Division I football. But no one in Montana, including his hometown Montana State Bobcats, knew if that potential could translate to playing quarterback in the Big Sky Conference.

The Bozeman High product played linebacker and tight end during the Hawks’ 2015 run to the Class AA state championship. Down the stretch of his junior season, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder often lined up opposite his standout older brother, Payton, now a redshirt freshman linebacker at Miami (Ohio).

Montana State began recruiting Callahan O’Reilly in the spring of his junior year. A few weeks after MSU’s junior day, Montana State director of high school relations B.J. Robertson called to offer a scholarship. While the interest was strong, the offer was vague.

After O’Reilly attended MSU’s individual camp in June, the recruiting picked up. In mid-August, O’Reilly learned the offer was as an athlete and the scholarship was a partial offer.

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EWU hosts surging Richmond with Final Four spot at stake

Read More EWU quarterback Gage Gubrude/by EWU Athletics
EWU quarterback Gage Gubrude/by EWU Athletics

While his players study for finals week in the midst of playoff preparation, Danny Rocco has spent the last two weeks intensively studying the Big Sky Conference.

Richmond’s fifth-year head coach has an array of game film at his disposal thanks to two straight FCS Playoff matchups with teams from the Big Sky. Last week, Rocco’s Spiders rallied from a 24-7 deficit to oust No. 7 seed North Dakota in Grand Forks with a 27-24 win capped by a last-second field goal by Griffin Trau.

This week, Rocco’s team has to navigate a surely challenging finals week — the 4,300-student school is a revered private liberal arts institution — while Rocco and his staff prepare the players to take on one of the national championship favorites in the FCS. The No. 12 Spiders will play second-seeded Eastern Washington in Cheney on Saturday afternoon.

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Billings Senior star Anderson ready to be a Bobcat

Read More Keaton Anderson, the Class AA Defensive Player of the Year at Billings Senior this fall, has committed to Montana State/  by Travis Clark, contributed
Keaton Anderson, the Class AA Defensive Player of the Year at Billings Senior this fall, has committed to Montana State/ by Travis Clark, contributed

Jeff Choate wasted no time letting Keaton Anderson know the stud Billing Senior safety was among Montana State’s most coveted prospects.

Choate signed his first recruiting class the first Wednesday of February this year. Before the day was finished, Choate called Anderson to offer a full scholarship.

“It was eye-opening for me because I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen,” Anderson said the second week of December. “Playing just one year of varsity and getting calls was awesome.”

Anderson mulled the offer throughout the spring and summer. He verbally committed to Montana State days after the Choate era opened with a 20-17 loss at FBS Idaho. Anderson then led Billings Senior on an undefeated run through Montana’s Class AA, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors and capping his career with state championship.

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Choate’s vision for 2nd off-season not clouded by strong finish

Read More Montana State offensive huddle during Cat-Griz in 2016/by Brooks Nuanez
Montana State offensive huddle during Cat-Griz in 2016/by Brooks Nuanez

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of a five-part series recapping Montana State’s 2016 season and previewing MSU off-season as Jeff Choate and his staff prepare for their second season together.   Part I    Part II

Ty Gregorak called the doldrums of a six-game losing streak “pure hell”. Jeff Choate showed visible frustration as the Big Sky Conference losses mounted. Veteran leaders like Gunnar Brekke and Chad Newell lamented the disappointments while trying to spin the heartache into a positive about the lesson that life can sometimes be unfair.

Throughout the 2016 football season, the Montana State Bobcats seemed to bounce back no matter how far they fell. A six-game conference losing streak put MSU at 2-7 entering the final two games of the season, the only two victories home wins over mismatched clubs from Bryant and Western Oregon during MSU’s non-conference schedule. The 0-6 start to league play marked the worst to a conference slate since 2000 for MSU.

But the Bobcats ended the season as a suddenly surging football team. Montana State found its offensive identity after a quarterback carousel clouded the intentions of Choate and offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham during their first season together. Once true freshman quarterback Chris Murray mastered a simple, run-heavy package behind an improving offensive line, the Bobcats ripped off two straight wins thanks to a dominant ground game.

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Big Sky Breakdown: FCS Playoffs Quarterfinals – Richmond at Eastern Washington

In this episode, hear the audio from Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and senior rover J.J. Njoku on the Big Sky Conference playoff call along with the audio from Richmond head coach Danny Rocco from the Colonial Athletic Association conference call. Richmond and Eastern Washington play in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs in Cheney, Washington on Saturday at 1 p.m. PST.

Note: Baldwin is asked about being a finalist for Nevada’s head coaching vacancy. Hours later, Nevada hired Jay Norvell over Baldwin as its head football coach.

Griz earn revenge, down San Jose State

Read More basketball with refs in background

About 13 months ago, Montana was in San Jose just a few days removed from a dramatic, season-opening win over Boise State. It was thought that the Griz were in for their second consecutive win over a Mountain West team with San Jose State again languishing at the bottom of its conference.

But the script did not play out as predicted. Montana was sluggish and uninspired and San Jose State sent the Griz packing with loss. A few days later, Montana head coach Travis DeCuire reminded his team they weren’t as good as they thought they were.

More than a year later, with the Griz trying to prove they’re better than their record indicates, they enacted a little revenge on San Jose State with an 81-62 win for their first win streak of the young season. UM’s second straight win boosts the Griz to 3-6.

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Rebounding struggles, TOs doom ‘Cats at South Dakota

Read More Montana State sophomore Tyler Hall, pictured here Monday in Bozeman in a loss against Milwaukee, was held to half his scoring average in MSU's 74-57 loss at South Dakota on Wednesday night/ by Brooks Nuanez
Montana State sophomore Tyler Hall, pictured here Monday in Bozeman in a loss against Milwaukee, was held to half his scoring average in MSU's 74-57 loss at South Dakota on Wednesday night/ by Brooks Nuanez

Problems old and new popped up or appeared for the first time for the Montana State Bobcats in South Dakota on Wednesday night.

Since a 91-66 victory over Delaware State in their final game of November, the Bobcats have lost three straight. On Wednesday, Montana State gave up 19 offensive rebounds, 13 second-chance points and 40 points in the paint to South Dakota. Montana State has struggled on the interior all season.

Conversely, MSU’s guard-heavy lineup has shot the ball well from beyond the 3-point arc (39.3 percent) and has taken care of the basketball, building a +2.1 turnover margin. In Vermillion, the Bobcats turned the ball over 17 times leading to 19 South Dakota points. The Bobcats hit just 4-of-20 attempt deep.

The struggles resulted in a 74-57 win by the hosts to push MSU’s losing streak to three and drop the Bobcats to 5-5 overall. South Dakota moved to 5-0 at home and 7-4 overall with its second win over Big Sky Conference team. USD defeated Montana 72-67 on November 27 in Vermillion.

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Despite size, Griz remaining competitive on the glass

Read More Montana junior Fabijan Krslovic is one of just two active Griz who are taller than 6-foot-6 yet UM is holding its own on the glass/ by Jason Bacaj
Montana junior Fabijan Krslovic is one of just two active Griz who are taller than 6-foot-6 yet UM is holding its own on the glass/ by Jason Bacaj

As Michael Oguine was quickly becoming a fan favorite last winter with his fearless approach, he would every now and then encroach upon the territory of the Grizzlies’ most productive rebounder.

It wasn’t all that uncommon to see Oguine, at the time a springy 6-foot-2 freshman, flying through the lane to grab a rebound most guards wouldn’t be able to gather. Most of those were high above the rim, the space normally occupied by then senior Martin Breunig.

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Montana State solidifies 2017 football schedule

Read More Martel Field at Bobcat Stadium/by Brooks Nuanez
Martel Field at Bobcat Stadium/by Brooks Nuanez

Jeff Choate signals the commitment of a recruit with a “#BOOM” on Twitter each time the Montana State head coach garners a promise from a prospect. With his latest tweet signaling the 15th verbal commit for the Class of 2017, Choate also released his team’s 2017 football schedule in the form of a graphic a little earlier than expected.

The graphic indicated 2017 slate with six home games once again. The schedule also includes an FBS game at Washington State to open the season on September 2, a home game against perennial FCS power South Dakota State the following week and a non-conference matchup late in the season the first Saturday of November against Kennesaw State.

A Montana State official confirmed the graphic is in fact the schedule for the 2017 season.

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Sam Houston State’s K.C. Keeler is Eddie Robinson Award Winner

Read More Sam Houston State head coach KC Keeler is the Eddie Robinson Award winner/ contributed
Sam Houston State head coach KC Keeler is the Eddie Robinson Award winner/ contributed

(STATS) – There isn’t much K.C. Keeler hasn’t accomplished over a 23-year career that includes a national championship and over 200 victories.

Sam Houston State’s distinguished program leader added another impressive achievement to his resumè on Wednesday, being named the 2016 Eddie Robinson Award winner honoring the FCS Coach of the Year.

By directing the Bearkats to an unbeaten regular season and a No. 1 ranking in the STATS FCS Top 25, Keeler edged out The Citadel’s Brent Thompson among 15 finalists representing all 13 FCS conferences. Voting was conducted by a national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.

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