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Bulldog Football Preseason Outlook

The University of Montana Western football team is set to kick off their 2022 campaign on the road. The NAIA no. 17 ranked and Frontier Conference early favorites look to defend their 2021 Frontier Conference Title this weekend in Helena, Mont. They begin their season in a face-off with the Carroll College Saints that has kickoff set for 1 p.m. Saturday Aug 27 at Nelson Stadium.

2022 Season Outlook Offense: The Bulldogs offense in 2021 led the Frontier Conference with 4,675 total offensive yards, averaging 467.5 yards per game. With the return of their leader and redshirt senior quarterback Jon Jund, the Bulldogs look to repeat with another year of standout offensive performances. Jund was named the 2021 Frontier Conference offensive player of the year after completing 233 of 391 pass attempts for 3,055 yards to lead the conference with 254.6 passing yards per game. He also ran for 533 yards and tallied nine rushing touchdowns. Look for Jund to continue to be the biggest offensive threat in the conference. The Bulldogs will continue to put forth a strong run game behind redshirt senior Reese Neville and sophomore Colten McPhee. Neville was named first team all-conference in 2021 after he found himself second in the conference in total rushing yards (955), rushing yards per game (86.8), yards per rush (5.3), and rushing touchdowns (10). McPhee also made the conference leaderboards tying Jund for third in rushing touchdowns with a total of nine. He had a total of 602 rushing yards on the season with an average of 49.17 yards per game. The Bulldogs will continue to utilize Neville and McPhee in handling the bulk of the carries this season.

The Bulldogs graduated four receivers and will seek to fill the void left behind from senior receivers Nate Simkins and Jamison Hermanson. Both Simkins and Hermanson led the team and topped the conference leaderboards in receiving yards. The Bulldogs added all-conference receiver and transfer Jacob Carbajal out of Ventura College to this season's squad. Also, look for returning redshirt seniors Trey Mounts (43 rec. 436 yards, 8 TD) and Nate Masterson (4 rec. 26 yards) to lead as returners in the receiving corps. Three starters return to the Bulldogs offensive line. Redshirt senior Noah Danielson (6-4, 295) returns as a leader and was a 2021 first team all-conference offense selection. Sophomores Marcus Lombard (6-1, 290) and Rocco Beccari (6-2, 265) will also be returning to the Bulldog offensive line. They will help to bring the leadership, physicality, work ethic, and energy to the line and to the rest of the team. Defense: The Bulldogs defense in 2021 totaled 824 total tackles, giving them an average of 68.7 tackles per game. The Bulldogs return 10 key players from last season's team that finished seventh in the Frontier in points allowed with 350 points total and averaged 2.58 sacks a game. The Bulldogs will need to fill the shoes of Joe Caicedo (99 tot. tackles) and Kyle Schulte (63 tot. tackles), who both made the all-conference defense team.

Senior Latrell McCutcheon was named to the first team all-conference team with a total of 44 tackles, 19 pass breakups, and had 3.5 tackles for loss for eight yards. Sophomore defensive back Braden Swank (65 total tackles) and junior linebacker Kameron Rauser (60 total tackles) both return to the Bulldog defense and will make a significant impact this season. The Bulldogs added transfer Hirkley Latu to the roster this season. Originally from Kahuku, Hawaii, Latu is a 6-3 250-pound linebacker who transferred from the University of Central Florida who will bring size, speed, and edge rush ability to the Bulldog defense. Derek Rauch-Edwards will also be returning to the field this season. He provides explosive speed and instincts as a safety. The defensive line brings back four starting players, including standouts Tanner Harrell and Reese Artz. Harrell made second team all-conference defense and averaged almost four tackles per game. He had 3.5 sacks for 22 yards and 10.5 tackles for loss of 45 yards. Artz played in all 12 games last season tallying 55 total tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries. Special Teams: The Bulldogs special teams return first team all-conference senior Trey Mounts. Mounts recorded 535 total yards on kick returns last season with an average of 18.4 yards per return. He also averages 14.4 yards on punt returns for a total of 216 yards total on the season. Sophomore John Mears will also be returning for the 2022 season as the Bulldog's go-to kicker and punter. Last season, he made a total of 50 extra points and averaged 6.2 points per game.

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