By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
For the first time in recent memories the Lumberjacks of Northen Arizona are picked as the pre-season favorite to win the Big Sky Title, a choice made both by the writers who cover the teams and by the coaches. Jerome Souers enters his 18th season in Flagstaff after a dozen seasons coaching the Grizzly defense. Souers still have some former Grizzly ties among his coaching staff. Former Grizzly linebacker and assistant David Reeves has the job of overseeing special teams, and former Griz player Andy Thompson is in charge of the defense.
The third NAU assistant with Montana ties has a rather intriguing story. Cody VonAppen gained national attention when he was six as he was saved from drowning in a water fall by one his father’s players at Hawaii. VonAppen was something of a prize recruit when Montana landed him in 2008. VonAppen had problems on and off the field culminating in his arrest for assault and being booted off the team. VonAppen got his act together first at Eastern Arizona Junior College and then at Western Oregon. He was a student assistant at Western Oregon then coached some high school football in Hawaii and now will be working with NAU’s backs and receivers. The Grizzlies travel to Flagstaff on October 22nd, while the Jacks will be in Bozeman on October 8th.
Between 1989 and 2009 the Montana Grizzlies won at least 5 more games in a season than the MSU Bobcats, most noticeably in 2000 when the Cats went winless and the Griz went 13-2. However the Bobcats have 6 seasons where they won at least 5 more games than the Griz and MSU has the most recent lopsided season winning 11 games in 2012 as compared to the Griz with 5 that season. As a matter of fact leap year has been surprisingly good to the Bobcats–since joining the Big Sky MSU has won 85 games in a leap year while the Montana Griz have won 89.
The PGA Championship is considered by purists as the weakest of golf’s major titles. One stat that might add value to that theory is this: 10 of the last 21 PGA Champions have won just that single major title. Of course recent winners such as Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Jason Day stand a reasonable chance to claim another major before they are done.
Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumed mascot.
Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament
When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.