SKYLINE SPORTS All-Big Sky in photos


Throughout a jam-packed football season, Skyline Sports attended or watched dozens of Big Sky Conference football games in their duration. On Monday, the league announced its All-Big Sky teams voated on by the league’s 13 head coaches. With an unbalanced scheduled in which each coach and team does not play four of the other teams from the league, the three conference co-champions from Weber State, Eastern Washington and UC Davis 19 spots on the first teams and 32 spots on the first two teams.

What follows is a photo essay of the players Skyline Sports observed as the best at their respective positions in the Big Sky Conference.

Offensive Player of the Year

Troy Andersen, Montana State, sophomore

Montana State quarterback Troy Andersen rushed for 1,199 yards and 19 touchdowns, the former the second-most by a quarterback in Big Sky Conference history and the latter the top numbers in the league. The 19 touchdowns is also the highest total of rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in league history. Although the Dillon product only threw for 907 yards and two touchdowns, no player was more integral to the offensive production of their respective team this season/by Brooks Nuanez


Defensive Player of the Year

Dante Olson, Montana, junior

Montana junior linebacker Dante Olson rushes Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander. Olson led the FCS with a Montana record 151 total tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and six sacks, each top five totals in the league. Olson also finished with two interceptions and three forced fumbles in a season for the ages/ by Brooks Nuanez


Newcomer of the Year

Dalton Sneed, Montana, quarterback, junior

Montana junior quarterback Dalton Sneed dives for a go-ahead touchdown in Montana’s 41-34 win over Sacramento State. Sneed was one of the Big Sky’s most electric players during his first season with the Griz. The fiery, competitive dual threat led Montana with 675 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns to go with 2,723 yards and 22 touchdowns/ by Brooks Nuanez


Freshman of the Year

Josh Davis, Weber State, running back

Weber State running back Josh Davis rushed for 129 yards in a win over Sac State. The former Utah Gatorade Player of the Year burst onto the scene when senior Treshawn Garrett hurt his ankle in Weber’s season opener against Utah. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound redshirt freshman ended up rushing for 1,288 yards, more than any other running back in the league. He scored nine touchdowns while carrying as much of WSU’s offensive load as Andersen did for Montana State / by Weber athletics


First team offense


Jake Maier, UC Davis, junior 

UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier earned the league’s Offensive Player of the Year this season and rightfully so. While not quite as necessary to his team as Andersen, Maier was close. His ability to control the Davis offense at the line of scrimmage and dice defenses helped him complete 65 percent of his passes for 3,387 yards, 31 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He led the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns and yards per game in leading the Aggies to their first-ever Big Sky Conference title/by Jason Bacaj


Running backs

Josh Davis, Weber State, redshirt freshman

Weber State redshirt freshman running back Josh Davis (28)/ Weber State athletics

Elijah Dotson, Sacramento State, sophomore

Sacramento State running back Eljiah Dotson rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns in Sac’s 41-34 loss at Montana to open Big Sky Conference play. Dotson finished second to Davis in yards among BSC tailbacks, rushing for 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns/ by Brooks Nuanez



Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly, senior

Protheroe shattered the single-season rushing record at Cal Poly with 1,810 yards and the career mark with 4,271 yards. He scored 35 career touchdowns on the ground, three shy of the school record, and his nine 100-yard games this fall were one off the mark while his four 200-yard performances broke the standard. Protheroe finished with 23 career 100-yard games and five 200-yard contests, both school records, and his 4,271 career yards are No. 8 in the Big Sky record book. The Walter Payton Award finalist finished No. 1 in the Big Sky and Football Championship Subdivision with his 1,810 yards and is No. 2 among active rushers in the FCS with his 4,271 career yards. Protheroe averaged 35.5 carries and 183.1 yards over eight conference games and is one of six Mustangs with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons/ by Brooks Nuanez


Wide receivers

Mitch Gueller, Idaho State, junior

Idaho State wide receiver Mitch Gueller, pictured here in 2017, led the Big Sky Conference and ranked fourth in the FCS with 1,259 yards receiving. He averaged 20.3 yards per catch and caught nine touchdowns in Idaho State’s potent passing offense triggered by Mitch’s quarterback brother Tanner Gueller/by Brooks Nuanez

Keelan Doss, UC Davs, senior

UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss, the 2017 Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year, led the country with 100 catches. He finished with 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, one of just four wide receivers (Mitch Gueller, Northern Colorado’s Alex Wesley, Eastern Washington’s Nsimba Webster) with more than 1,000 receiving yards this season/ by Jason Bacaj

Sammy Akem, Montana, sophomore

Montana wide receiver Samuel Akem (18) led the Big Sky Conference with 13 touchdown catches during his breakout sophomore season. He caught 59 passes for 879 yards and emerged as one of the league’s most dominant offensive players over the last six weeks of the season/by Jason Bacaj

Tight end

Wes Preece, UC Davis, Junior

UC Davis tight end Wesley Preece, pictured here scoring one of his eight touchdowns this season at Montana, caught 24 passes for 306 yards as Maier spread the ball around more than a year ago when Preece caught 36 passes for 568 yards and nine touchdowns. But Preece has remained the top tight end red-zone threat in the Big Sky/ by Brooks Nuanez

Offensive Tackle

Chris Schlichting, Eastern Washington, junior

Eastern Washington junior offensive tackle Chris Schlichting has already started 36 games in his EWU career as the Eagles enter the FCS playoffs for the sixth time this season. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder anchored an EWU offensive front that helped pave the way for 275 rushing yards per game/ EWU athletics

 Iosua Opeta, Weber State, senior

Weber State senior offensive tackle Iosua Opeta (55), a 2017 FCS All-American, is widely considered the top NFL prospect in the Big Sky/ Weber State athletics



Noah Johnson, Idaho, junior

Idaho’s best offensive player has as much responsibility as any lineman in the league. The Vandals play a strong-side, quick-side guard scheme, moving Johnson back and forth and often pulling him as the key cog in their zone rushing scheme/ Idaho Athletics

Ty Whitworth, Weber State, sophomore

Whitworth chose Weber State over several Mountain West offers, including from San Diego State. The Temecula, California product is already paying dividends for Weber State head coach and ace recruiter Jay Hill. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound sophomore is in his second season as a starter and was a first-team All-Big Sky selection this season/ by WSU athletics


Spencer Blackburn, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington landed five players on the first-team voted by the league’s coaches and 12 on the top two teams overall. When asked which player he felt deserved more recognition, EWU head coach Aaron Best said without hesitation it was Blackburn, a fifth-year senior who earned second-team All-Big Sky honors from the coaches. Blackburn’s aptitude combined with his physicality and durability makes him our choice in the middle of the offensive line/ by Brooks Nuanez


Roldan Alcobendas, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington kicker Roldan Alcobendas has made all 13 of his field goal attempts this season, helping him to a Big Sky best 93 points this season. He has 294 points in his career, the most in EWU history/ by EWU athletics


Troy Andersen, Montana State, sophomore

Montana State quarterback Troy Andersen (15) breaks loose for a 51-yard touchdown vs. Cal Poly, one of his league-best 19 touchdown runs this season/ by Brooks Nuanez


Rashid Shaheed, Weber State, sophomore

Weber State All-American kick returner Rashid Shaheed is in line for similar honors this season after averaging 34.7 yards per return and taking two kickoffs all the way back for touchdowns, including a 100-yard return to break a halftime tie with Northern Colorado/ by WSU athletics


First team defense


Jay-Tee Tiuli, Eastern Washington, Senior

The return of the Eastern Washington captain after missing last season with a knee injury helped the Eagles hold every Big Sky team to 23 points or less. Eastern won its fifth league title this decade behind the powerful control of the interior defensive line by Tiuli, the player the league’s coaches voted as Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder had 29 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks but his constant collapsing of the interior of the line of scrimmage proved more important than any statistic/ by Brooks Nuanez

Tucker Yates, Montana State, senior

Montana State senior defensive tackle Tucker Yates with forever be remembered for his pivotal role in a goal line stand to help Montana State earn a 29-25 victory at Montana in 2018. But this season, the MSU captain capped his consistent career with a crescendo. The Colstrip native finished with 45 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, a sack, five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble, playing at a higher and more productive level than any true nose guard in the league/ by Jason Bacaj



 Tyrone Fa’anono, Montana State, senior

The “5I” position in Montana State’s odd-man front does not cater to huge splash numbers. But Fa’anono’s ability to wear out opposing offensive linemen combined with his ferocious strength made him one of the most diverse and intimidating defensive linemen in the league this year. He finished the regular season with 53 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception on Senior Day and a forced fumble/ by Brooks Nuanez

Adam Rodriguez, Weber State, junior

Adam Rodriguez (9), pictured here with Weber State senior linebackers Landon Stice (45) and LeGrand Toia (58), led the Wildcats with 13 tackles for loss and six sacks this season/ by Brooks Nuanez



Bryce Sterk, Montana State, junior

Montana State edge Bryce Sterk (37) fights through a block by a Montana offensive lineman. Sterk had two sacks in MSU’s 29-25 win over Montana, bringing his regular-season total to a league-best 8.5 sacks. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound former Washington transfer also led the league in tackles for loss with 17, including 16 solo stops behind the line of scrimmage among his 53 total tackles/ by Brooks Nuanez

Outside linebacker

 Mason Moe, UC Davis, senior

UC Davis senior outside linebacker Mason Moe tied Sterk for the Big Sky lead with 8.5 sacks and his 16 tackles for loss ranked second. The former junior college transfer, pictured here sacking Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed, had 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in his team’s 49-21 win in Missoula/ by Brooks Nuanez


Landon Stice, Weber State, senior

Weber State linebacker Landon Stice rushes Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere. Stice, who nearly retired from football in the off-season, instead turned into the best ball-hawking linebacker in the league. His four interceptions are the most among BSC linebackers. He had 64 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks during the regular season as WSU claimed a share of its second straight league title/ by WSU athletics


Keilan Benjamin, Weber State, senior

Weber State senior Keilan Benjamin, pictured here earlier this season against South Dakota, seamlessly slid into the No. 1 corner role vacated by Taron Johnson’s departure to the NFL. Benjamin finished with four interceptions, 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks this fall / by WSU athletics


Vince White, UC Davis, senior

Playing out on an island often, the senior lead the Big Sky Conference in pass breakups with 16 for the league’s co-champions/ by Wayne Tilcock, UC Davis Athletics


Jahque Alleyne, Montana State, junior

Montana State safety Jahque Alleyne intercepts a pass against Western Illinois. That interception, the first of the former Virginia Tech transfer’s MSU career, was the first of a league-leading five interceptions. Alleyne not only showed a penchant for picks but also showed his fluid athleticism on several returns/by Brooks Nuanez

Jordan Preator, Weber State, senior

Weber State senior Jordan Preator earned All-Big Sky honors each of the last two seasons after transferring from BYU. The 6-foot, 195-pound senior had 50 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception and eight pass breakups in earning one of Weber’s eight spots on the first-team all-league defense voted by the coaches/ by Brooks Nuanez


Roldan Alcobendas, Eastern Washington, senior


Special Teams

Brady May, Weber State, senior

Weber State fullback Brady May has been an All-Big Sky special teams player for two years running. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound senior had a pair of tackles in nine games to earn first-team All-Big Sky honors for the second straight year/ by WSU athletics

Second team offense


Tanner Gueller, Idaho State, senior

Idaho State senior quarterback Tanner Gueller had an outing for the ages as ISU renewed its rivalry with in-state rival Idaho. Gueller threw for 492 yards and eight touchdowns as the Bengals ripped the Vandals, 62-28. Along with UC Davis’ Jake Maier, Gueller was one of only two quarterbacks to throw for 3,000 yards. He finished the season with 3,101 yards and 27 touchdowns as ISU finished 6-5/ by Brooks Nuanez

Running backs

Sam McPherson, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington senior Sam McPherson, pictured here after ripping off a 57-yard touchdown in a 34-17 win over Montana State, joined Weber State’s Josh Davis and Sac State’s Elijah Dotson as the only Big Sky running backs to surpass 1,000 yards. McPherson finished with 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 7.9 yards per carry along the way. He also caught 17 passes, including a touchdown for the co-league champions/ by Brooks Nuanez


James Madison, Idaho State, senior

Idaho State running back James Madison just missed 1,000 yards for the second straight season, finishing 2018 with 974 yards. He scored 11 touchdowns, the most in the league by a tailback and the third-most rushing touchdowns in the Big Sky/ ISU athletics

Wide receivers

Nsimba Webster, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington junior wide receiver Nsimba Webster caught his 60th pass on his final reception of EWU’s 74-23 win over Portland State, taking the grab 68 yards for his sixth touchdown of 2018. That long gainer made Webster the latest Eastern wide receiver to top 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. His 1,021 yards ranked fourth in the league/ by Blake Hempstead

Michael Dean, Idaho State, junior

The former California state track champion sprinter, long jumper and pole vaulter showed just how much explosiveness hides in his 5-foot-6, 155-pound body. The Idaho State junior blossomed into the top slot receiver in the league. He caught 49 passes for 863 yards and 10 touchdowns, the second-most scoring grabs in the league/ photo by Idaho State athletics

 Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona, senior

All-American quarterback Case Cookus and Butler made magic in 2015, connecting 64 times for 1,208 yards and 15 touchdowns as Cookus won FCS Freshman of the Year honors and Butler was a unanimous first-team all-conference pick. The duo never managed to recapture that former. The following season, Cookus suffered an injury that ended his campaign before league play began. Butler still earned first-team all-conference honors with 69 catches for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns. He suffered a season-ending injury after two games last fall and returned this year only to see Cookus suffer another season-ender in NAU’s third game. Butler finished his senior season with 35 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound specimen finished 14 catches short of NAU’s career record of 201 but leads Flagstaff with the records for receiving yards in a career (3,217) and touchdowns in a career (33)/ by Brooks Nuanez

Tight end

 Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State, junior

Portland State Charlie Taumoepeau was an All-American as a sophomore and a preseason All-American entering this season. Despite missing a few starts with an injury, Taumoepeau caught 28 passes for 580 yards and two touchdowns/ PSU athletics



Brian Fineanganofo, Idaho State, senior

Mitch Brott, Montana State, junior

Montana State offensive tackle Mitch Brott has one of the deepest mean streaks in the league and is one of the best blindside players in the trenches in the Big Sky/ by Jason Bacaj


Kaleb Levao, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington head coach Aaron Best and offensive lineman Kaleb Levao, a second-team All-Big Sky selection by the league’s coaches. The former defensive lineman bounced back from a season-ending knee injury from last season to dominate at offensive guard in his lone season as a full-time starter at the position/ by Brooks Nuanez

Korbin Sorensen, Portland State, sophomore

Portland State sophomore offensive guard Korbin Sorensen (77) is one of the most powerful linemen in the league already/ by Brooks Nuanez


 Dallen Collins, Idaho State, junior

Idaho State junior center Dallen Collins’ pre-snap identifications and calls of defensive fronts helped Idaho State operate the run-pass option elements of its spread offense at a high efficiency level all season/ by Idaho State athletics


Cody Williams, Portland State, freshman

Portland State true freshman kicker Cody Williams drilled a 56-yard field goal at the buzzer to lift PSU to an improbable 22-20 win in Missoula over Montana. He hit 11-of-14 field goals and all 37 of his extra-point tries this season/ by Jason Bacaj


Malik Flowers, Montana, redshirt freshman

Montana kick returner Malik Flowers averaged more than 27 yards per kick return and had a 100-yard return for a touchdown this season/ by Brooks Nuanez


Ulonzo Gilliam, UC Davis, freshman

UC Davis running back Ulonzo Gilliam (40) was one of the league’s top freshmen this season. He rushed for 796 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was also the most prolific pass catching back in the league with 44 catches for 338 yards and three more scores/by Jason Bacaj


Second team defense


Filipe Sitake, Weber State, senior

 Semise Kofe, Portland State, sophomore

Portland State defensive tackles Semise Kofe (95) and Anthony Del Toro (98) wreaked havoc all game in PSU’s 22-20 win over Montana in Missoula. The powerful Kofe finished this season with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks/ by Jason Bacaj


Larry Ross, Portland State, senior

Portland State senior Larry Ross led the Vikings with 7.5 tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks, the second-most by a Big Sky defensive end this season/ by Jason Bacaj

Keifer Morris, Northern Colorado, senior

Northern Colorado senior defensive end Keifer Morris earned All-Big Sky recognition for the third time in his career this fall despite notching career lows with 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks/ by Brooks Nuanez


Kaden Ellis, Idaho, senior

Idaho senior Kaden Elliss is one of the league’s biggest (literally and figuratively) disruptors. Surpassed only by Sterk in his blend of size, speed, explosiveness and length, the son of former Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive lineman and current Idaho DL coach Luther Elliss finished his senior season third in the league in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (6.5)/ by Brooks Nuanez

Outside linebacker

Chris Ojoh, Eastern Washington, sophomore

Kody Graves, Idaho State, senior


Inside linebacker

Josh Buss, Montana, senior

Montana senior Josh Buss fought through a shoulder/chest injury that plagued him all season after having off-season shoulder surgery. He took a secondary role as an inside linebacker despite piling up 36 tackles for loss as an outside linebacker as a sophomore and a junior. Yet playing out of position and not at full strength, the preseason Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year still produced. He finished his senior season with 75 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks/ by Brooks Nuanez

Ketner Kupp, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington senior linebacker Ketner Kupp had a team-high 70 tackles, showing both play-making ability and toughness during EWU’s defensive emergence/ by Brooks Nuanez


 Khalil Dorsey, Northern Arizona, junior

Northern Arizona’s Khalil Dorsey is one of the fastest players in the Big Sky. The point scorer in the 110-meter high hurdles was a second-team All-Big Sky selection last season and a first-team all-league pick by the league’s coaches this season after snaring three of NAU’s league-best 17 inceptions/ by NAU athletics

Josh Lewis, Eastern Washington, senior

Eastern Washington senior cornerback Josh Lewis tackles Montana State junior wide receiver Kevin Kassis. Lewis had three of EWU’s 14 interceptions, a key stat in Eastern’s defensive dominance that helped the Eagles to a share of the league title/ by Brooks Nuanez


Kam’Ron Johnson, Northern Arizona, senior

Northern Arizona senior safety Kam’Ron Johnson got his hands on as many footballs as any safety in the league the last two seasons, picking off four passes each of the last two years/ NAU athletics

Brayden Konkol, Montana State, junior

Montana State safety Brayden Konkol (18) sticks Northern Colorado wide receiver Alex Wesley (81). The physical, savvy Belgrade, Montana product led Montana State this season with 78 tackles. He showed his versatility throughout by starting a couple of games at Sam linebacker after serving as the starter at Will linebacker for 11 games last season/by Brooks Nuanez

Robby Hauck, Montana, redshirt freshman

Montana safety Robby Hauck makes a tackle against Sacramento State. The son of UM head coach Bobby Hauck transferred from Northern Arizona in the off-season. He finished third in the league with 95 tackles, including 2.5 for loss. In Montana’s unorthodox defensive scheme, Hauck was required to “run the alley” in run fits and he did so with fearlessness for the duration of his first season as a starter/ by Brooks Nuanez



Jered Padmos, Montana State, junior

Montana State junior punter Jered Padmos was a valuable weapon this fall, helping the Bobcats lead the league in net punting for the second straight season. The Boulder, Montana native had 13 punts of more than 50 yards and pinned opponents inside the 20 on 19 occasions. He averaged 41.9 yards per punt with his roll rugby punting style that almost always negates any possibility for a big return/ by Brooks Nuanez


Special teams

 Eric Williams, Montana, senior punter

Montana punter Eric Williams allowed just 28 return yards in league play and averaged 42.5 yards per punt, the fourth-best distance in the league/ by Brooks Nuanez


Photos by Brooks Nuanez. To reach Brooks for purchase or questions, email All Rights Reserved. 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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