Montana Football: Griz Cap Spring Drills in Butte on Saturday


After more than a month of practice, the Montana Grizzlies will finish the spring football season at 1 p.m. on Saturday at historic Naranche Stadium in Butte, America, at the 2017 Spring Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.

The Spring Game, which tours to a different city in Montana every other year, makes its first stop in the Mining City since 2010 on April 22, with a full slate of activities surrounding the on-field action.

All proceeds from the Spring Game go to support the Grizzly Scholarship Association (GSA) toward its objective of providing scholarships for student-athletes.

The game will consist of four separate quarters of play, lasting 10 minutes each. Head coach Bob Stitt will also split the squad into two different teams to give the scrimmage a game-like environment, with the quarterbacks rotating after each offensive drive.


Tickets for the Spring Game cost $5 for adults and $3 for children, and are still available at the Adams Center Box Office or at the gate on game day.

WEEKEND FESTIVITIES: A Griz gathering featuring Coach Stitt and his staff, as well as Athletic Department staff will kick off the weekend’s activities on Friday, April 21, at 6 p.m. at the McQueen Club (3250 Hecla St.).

All Griz fans are invited to attend, and there will be a no-host bar. Fans will have the chance to win raffle prizes, and spring game tickets will be available for purchase.

An 11 a.m. tailgate party hosted by the Butte Chapter of the GSA will take place near the northwest entrance of the stadium on E. Silver St. on game day. Beverages will be available, and food vendors selling Butte specialties will be on hand for the 2-hour pre-game tailgate.

Fans at the game will also have exclusive first access to the 2017 Griz football schedule poster, which will be available for free at the GSA Tailgate.

WHERE TO WATCH: The 2017 Griz Spring Game presented by Northwestern Mutual will be broadcast statewide on SWX Montana, and via the Watch SWX mobile app, available for download on Apple and Android devices.

Shaun Rainey will provide the play-by-play, with analysis from former Griz QB Grady Bennett and sideline coverage from Ben Wineman.

SWX Montana is available to Montana Charter Cable subscribers only on channel 199, except in Billings, where SWX is carried by Charter on channel 503. Check local listings to find SWX in your area.

If you have rabbit ears on your TV, the game can be seen on channel 23.3 in Missoula, 5.3 in Great Falls, 21.3 in Helena, 18.3 in Butte, 28.3 in Bozeman and 8.2 in Billings.

Broadcast coverage from Naranche on SWX begins at 1:30 p.m.

Fans can also follow the Grizzlies official Twitter account for live updates @UMGRIZZLIES_FB.

THE TEAMS: (Full team list below) Coach Stitt will split his squad into two separate teams – maroon and white – with the intention of making the experience as game-like as possible for both players and fans.

“You want to try to get away from a practice-type setting and make it seem more important and game-like,” said Stitt. “By splitting up the teams and putting an offensive and a defensive unit in the same color, it seems more like a game. It’s more fun for the players and the fans as well.”

Holding the Spring Game in Butte provides the Grizzlies an opportunity to give the scrimmage a road-game feel as well, helping Stitt achieve one of his primary objectives: improve on UM’s 1-4 road record last season.

“It’s something we’ve got to get used to, playing the same way on the road as we do in our home stadium,” Stitt added. “We’re looking forward to being in Butte, we know there’s going to be a great crowd, and it will give our young guys a good sense of what it will be like to play on the road in front of a good crowd.”

In divvying up his squad, Stitt has roughly cut the team into the No. 1 offense versus No. 1 defense, providing fans the chance to see Montana’s best square off against each other, and also providing an opportunity for the backups to experience life as a starter and bank experience for the future.

“The one offense will team up with the two defense and the one defense with the two offense, so we’ll always have ones on ones and twos on twos, but they’ll be part of a team, and it puts a little pride and some ownership into it,” said Stitt.

“When you’re a second-string guy, now you become a starter. You’re on a team, you’re a starter, and you need to be accountable for your position.”

The maroon team will feature Montana’s No. 1 offense, led by senior running back Treshawn Favors and wide receivers Jerry Louie-McGee, Keenan Curran and Justin Calhoun, who each caught for more than 600 yards last season as UM’s top-three receivers.

On the offensive line, redshirt freshman Conlan Beaver makes his way into the No. 1 squad at left tackle in the absence of senior David Reese, who is spending spring rehabbing from offseason surgery.

Converted tight end, defensive end and wide receiver Mike Ralston will also run with the No. 1 offensive line on Saturday at right tackle.

Senior defensive end and newly appointed #37 Tucker Schye will lead the No. 1 defense on the white team. Schye has been uber-productive so far this spring, taking three sacks in the last scrimmage alone.

Jace Lewis, who has enjoyed a breakout spring season, will anchor the linebackers alongside Vika Fa’atuiese, Andrew Harris, and Shayne Cochran. Each of those four is stepping up to fill in for UM’s three starting linebackers from last season who are also out rehabbing.

Cornerback Markell Sanders leads the defensive back unit that produced three interceptions in the last scrimmage. In that game, Sanders came up with one of the day’s biggest highlights with a one-handed tip-pass interception and has been providing stifling coverage all spring long.

Justin Strong will take the field on Saturday at free safety as UM’s top active returning tackler from last season when he posted 68 tackles and three interceptions.

Bigfork native Josh Sandry will be back in action at strong safety as well after getting banged up earlier in the spring.

SCHEDULE: The Griz will depart from the Adams Center in Missoula at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, heading east on I-90.

The team is scheduled to arrive at Naranche Stadium at 10:45 a.m. and will proceed to the lockers to get dressed and taped, emerging for warmups soon after.

Montana’s specialists will open the scrimmage with punts, field goals, and PAT before moving into four quarters of offensive drives.

Maroon Team
RB:         Treshawn Favors
RB:         Rey Green
WR:        Justin Calhoun
WR:        Keenan Curran
WR:        Samuel Akem
WR:        Lamarriel Taylor
WR(Z):   Jerry Louie-McGee
WR(Z):   Mitch McLaughlin
WR(H):   Colin Bingham*
WR(H):   Josh Horner*
WR(H):   Makena Simis*
OL:          Conlan Beaver
OL:          Angel Villanueva
OL:          Cooper Sprunk
OL:          Robert Luke
OL:          Mike Ralston
K:            Brandon Purdy
P:            Brandon Purdy

DE:          Cy Sirmon
DE:          Cole Rosling
DE:          Randy Rodriguez
DE:          Devin Maua*
DT:          Reggie Tilleman
DT:          Trace Bradshaw
DT:          Kyle Davis
DT:          Esai Longoria*
LB:          Dante Olson
LB:          Hunter McKenzie
LB:          Trase Le Texier
LB:          Gage Smith
LB:          Cy Steele
DB:         Evan Epperly
DB:         Korey Alexander
DB:         Mick Delaney
DB:         Josh Egbo
DB:         Lewis Cowans

White Team
RB:         Shane Moody
RB:         Josh Deshner
WR:        Kobey Eaton
WR:        Jed Nagler
WR:        Brennan Corbin
WR:        Nick Fouch
WR(Z):   Samori Toure
WR(Z):   Danny Burton
WR(H):   Colin Bingham*
WR(H):   Josh Horner*
WR(H):   Makena Simis*
OL:          Thayne Jackson
OL:          Dylan Eickmeyer
OL:          Cody Meyer
OL:          Dallas Hart
OL:          Brandon Scott
OL:          Ashton Torres
K:            Tim Semenza
P:            Eric Williams

DE:          Tucker Schye
DE:          Dylan Gilfoy
DE:          Chris Favoroso
DE:          Devin Maua*
DT:          Jesse Sims
DT:          Myles Mckee-Osibodu
DT:          David Shaw
DT:          Esai Longoria*
LB:          Jace Lewis
LB:          Vika Fa’atuiese
LB:          Andrew Harris
LB:          Shayne Cochran
DB:         Markell Sanders
DB:         Dareon Nash
DB:         Josh Sandry
DB:         Justin Strong
DB:         Gavin Crow
DB:         Ryan McKinley
DB:         Caleb Mitchell

* Will play on both Maroon and White teams