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UMW Football 2023 Season Preview

UMW Sports Press Release

The University of Montana Western football team is set to kick off their

2023 campaign on the road with a game at Eastern Oregon this weekend. The Bulldogs enter the season picked to finish fourth in Frontier Conference play. To view the full preseason rankings, click here.

The Bulldogs finished the 2022 season going 7-4 on the season and a perfect 4-0 on the last four games. After battling through a few tough losses in a row in the middle of the season, UMW finished the season on a high note. Of the final four wins, two of them were against nationally ranked teams.

The Bulldogs will play ten games in total for the 2023 season, including games against first-time opponents Arizona Christian University and Lewis & Clark College.

The Frontier Conference added Arizona Christian this season bringing the conference total to

nine teams. Arizona Christian enters the season as the reigning Sooner Athletic Conference

champions after going 7-2 in SAC conference play in 2022.

All Frontier institutions' first games will not be counted in the conference standings, except for

newcomer Arizona Christian University. The conference slate consists of eight games to

accommodate the odd number of teams.

Rounding out the schedule, the Bulldogs will face off with NCAA Division III first-time opponent Lewis & Clark College from Portland, Oregon. The Pioneers come off of a 2022

campaign where they finished the season 4-5 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The game will be on September 16th for the Bulldogs’ first home matchup.


The Bulldog offense in 2022 led the Frontier Conference with a total of 425 yards of offense per game, totaling 4,675 total offensive yards on the season. Competition for the quarterback

position will remain strong through fall camp as the Bulldogs look to replace standout

quarterback Jon Jund. Jund was a two-time Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Year,

AFCA All-American honorable mention, led the conference in passing yards per game (218.3)

and passing touchdowns (22). He was tied for first overall in rushing touchdowns with nine.

Michael Palandri and Kaden Jenks will be competing for the starting spot. Palandri, a redshirt

sophomore, has shown excellent leadership, drive and athleticism across the spring. He served as the backup quarterback last season, recording 14 completions and 154 passing yards. Jenks, a senior transfer from Weber State, brings experience as a former starter in the Big Sky Conference along with outstanding quarterback skills.

The Bulldog offense also graduated their three top receivers from the 2022 receiving corps; Trey Mounts (43 rec., 599 yards), who led the Bulldogs last season, Blake Sentman (39 rec., 423 yards) and Elijah Benedick (24 rec., 383 yards). The Red and Black will be looking to returning receivers Dylan Shipley (R-FR) and Isaiah Thomas (R-JR) to step up this season.

Last season, senior Reese Neville led the way for the Bulldogs on the ground. The first-team all-conference running back led the conference in rushing yards and broke the single season rushing record for Montana Western. He rushed for a total of 1,065 yards on the season, averaging 6.6 yards per rush, 96.8 yard per game, and nine touchdowns in the season.

Colten McPhee, a junior running back, returns this season after he was third on the team in

rushing yards in 2022 with 364 in the season. They will also look to redshirt freshman Jake

Humphrey, who will be fighting for significant playing time. Humphrey is an explosive athlete

with outstanding speed and excellent open field skills. They will hope to count on Humphrey to make an impact in both the running and passing game.

Though the loss of AFCA First Team All-American offensive lineman Noah Danielson will be

felt, the Bulldogs return starters Marcus Lombard, a 6-1 redshirt junior, and Rocco Beccari, a 6-3 junior, to the offensive line. They will continue to help bring the leadership, physicality, work

ethic and energy to the line. The Bulldogs also bring in 6-2 junior and Snow College transfer Eli Wells. Wells will be competing for a starting position on the offensive line, playing multiple

positions and helping UMW to remain one of the top offensive line units in the Frontier



The Bulldog defense brings back unquestionable talent and leadership to the table this season. Returning are all-conference defensive line selections and captains Tanner Harrell and Reese Artz. Harrell, a 6-1 redshirt senior, earned all-conference honors last season after he totaled 50 tackles, 20 being solo. He was second in the conference in sacks with 8.5 total, third in the conference in tackles for loss with 12.5, and had 4.5 tackles per game. Artz, a 6-3 redshirt senior, also earned all-conference honors last fall after he totaled 58 tackles on the season, was fourth in the conference in sacks with seven, and tied for third in the conference in tackles for loss with 12.5.

Linebackers Kameron Rauser and Braden Smith return this season. Last season, Rauser, a 6-0

senior, led the Bulldogs with 75 tackles, 39 of which were solo. He totaled eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, and three pass breakups. He will continue to be a tremendous field presence for the Bulldog defense throughout his senior season, leading as a captain for the second season in a row. Smith, a 6-3 redshirt senior, followed just behind Rauser last season with 63 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and three sacks.

Jaden Amasiu and Braden Swank return for the 2023 season. Amasiu, a 5-11 senior, ranked

fourth last season in tackles, compiling 54 tackles as a defensive back. Swank, a 5-11 junior, led the conference last season with 19 pass breakups and an impressive 52 tackles. Look for Swank and Amasiu to dominate the back field for the Bulldog defense.

Transfers Kohl Hogan and D’on Williams join the Bulldogs this fall, adding to the depth of the

Bulldog defense. Hogan, a 6-3 sophomore transfer from Snow College, earned a starting spot at linebacker this spring. He brings a ton of athleticism to the linebacker room and will increase the speed and playmaking ability of the UMW defense. Williams, a 5-10 redshirt freshman transfer from the University of Nevada, is a dynamic athlete who brings speed, physicality and will be competing for a starting position at safety.

Special Teams

The Bulldogs special teams will be returning redshirt junior kicker John Mears for the 2023

season. Mears, a redshirt sophomore kicker, was 42 for 47 on PATs last season. He was also 8 for 10 on field goals with a career long field goal of 46-yards made against Rocky Mountain in the final game of the season. Mears earned CSC Academic First Team All-America last season for his excellence on the field and in the classroom.

Eddie Dewart and Angel Navarette also return this season for the Bulldogs special teams.

Dewart, a sophomore punter, averaged 37.4 yards per punt last season and a total of 1,719 punt yards. Navarette, a sophomore kicker, will be the go-to for kickoffs again. He recorded 3,780 yards on kickoffs last season with an average of 56.4 yards per kick.

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