Griz have 17 players named to 2012 All-Big Sky Football Team


MISSOULA, MONTANA (11/20/12) – The University of Montana Grizzly football team had a total of 17 players named to the prestigious All-Big Sky Conference team, the league announced today.

The Grizzlies, who recently concluded their season with a 5-6 overall record and a 3-5 league mark, had four players named to the first team and one second team pick, as well as 13 players named honorable mention all-conference.

Montana’s first team selections on offense were senior tight end Greg Hardy and junior tackle Danny Kistler, Jr., while junior linebacker Jordan Tripp and sophomore end Zack Wagenmann were named to the defensive unit.  Senior halfback Peter Nguyen was UM’s sole second team selection.

Hardy, a 6-5, 245-pound senior tight end from Fairview, tied for the team lead for the most receptions with 29 this past season.  He was recently named the co-recipient (along with senior wide receiver Sam Gratton) of the Terry Dillon Award (outstanding back or receiver).   Hardy was also a first team all-league pick last year and is one of eight players who was a repeat selection this season.

A two-year starter, Kistler, a 6-8, 325-pound junior from Seattle, Wash., started all 11 contests at right tackle this season, after starting 14 games at left guard in 2011.  Kistler recently shared Montana’s outstanding offensive linemen award, as the co-recipient (with senior guard Jake Hendrickson) of the Paul Weskamp Award.

Tripp, a 6-3 ½, 244-pound junior from Missoula, was Montana’s defensive team captain and the team’s second leading tackler with 95 stops, and he also had a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss.  Tripp was voted the winner of the  Tony Barbour Award, given annually to the player “who best exemplifies the values and work ethic of Grizzly football.”

Wagenmann, a 6-3 ½, 240-pound defensive end from Missoula, is ranked second in the Big Sky in sacks with 11.5, and is fifth in the FCS with 1.05 sacks a game.  He was second on the team with 13.0 tackles for loss and UM’s sixth leading tackler (tie) with 50 stops.  Wagenmann was voted UM’s outstanding defensive lineman and was presented the Larry Miller Award.

A 5-8, 182-pound senior from Seattle, Wash., Nguyen, led the Grizzlies in rushing with 926 yards this season – the 14th most gained in one season at Montana.  He was UM’s offensive team captain this year and is ranked 51st in the FCS in rushing (84.18 ypg), and 50th in all-purpose yards (118.73 ypg).  Nguyen was recently named the recipient of Montana’s Steve Carlson Award, given annually to the team’s Most Valuable Player.

The Grizzlies had six players named honorable mention all-league on defense: starting defensive tackles (a junior) Alex Bienemann (32 total tackles) and (a sophomore) Tonga Takai (30 TT); senior end Josh Harris (39 TT, 7.5 tackles for loss); junior outside linebacker John Paul Kanongata’a (72 TT); junior inside linebacker Brock Coyle (107 TT); junior cornerback Sean Murray (50 TT and 2 interceptions); and sophomore safety Matt Hermanson (67 TT and 2 interceptions).  Harris is the only senior in the group, as the Griz will return 10 starters on defense in 2013.

UM had three honorable mention selections on offense: senior wide receiver Sam Gratton (29-397-4); senior guard Jake Hendrickson; and junior center Kjelby Oiland.  Montana returns six starters on offense next season.  Starters lost include Hardy, Gratton, Hendrickson, Nguyen, and Bryce Carver (20-219-3).

Special teams honorable mention picks were Nguyen (9.9 average on 17 punt returns) as a return specialist, kicker Chris Lider (15-of-21 FGs and 37-of-41 PATs) and punter Stephen Shaw (41.8-yard average on 54 attempts), who are both redshirt freshmen.