MSU-Northern defensive lineman Tyler Craig (right) shoves Carroll offensive lineman Chris Emter at the line of scrimmage. (RICHIE MELBY/MTN Sports)

WACO, Texas – The 2017 AFCA NAIA coaches’ all-American teams were announced on Monday morning by the American Football Coaches Association, where four Frontier Conference student-athletes were represented on the first team. Two of the athletes hail from schools in Montana.

Rocky Mountain College defensive back Keenan Fagan and Carroll College offensive lineman Chris Emter were each honored by the AFCA. Fagan, a 5-foot-11 junior from Lake Tapps, Wash., led the nation with seven interceptions this season. According to Rocky Mountain College athletics, the seven picks is a program record (Rocky’s records date back 13 seasons). Rocky led the nation with 20 interceptions.

Fagan also recorded five pass breakups and 64 tackles, with 41 solo. He added 3.5 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks and one forced fumble for coach Jason Petrino’s defense. Fagan becomes the 13th Battlin’ Bear football player to be recognized as an NAIA all-American, and is the first defensive player honored under the current AFCA format.

Fagan and Rocky finished the season with a 6-5 record, the first winning season since 2013.

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Emter, a senior from Livingston, is a four-year player for Carroll College and offensive line coach Jim Hogan. He was a key part of an offensive line that averaged 209.8 rushing yards per contest, third-best in the Frontier Conference. Emter becomes the seventh first-team all-American offensive lineman under Hogan, and the third under the AFCA format.

“Chris Emter’s body of work over four years has brought him to this point,” head coach Mike Van Diest said. “He was first-Team All-Conference as a junior and a senior and now recognized as an ACFA First-Team All-American which is the most prestigious All-American because it is picked by coaches across the nation. If you look at our stats, he was dominant this year. Major Ali was named First-Team All-Conference and a lot of times he was running right behind Chris.”

The Fighting Saints found their stride late in the season, rushing for more than 150 yards in five of the final six games, including a 539-yard output against MSU-Northern. Carroll College, the six-time NAIA national champions, averaged 250 rushing yards in those final six games, including an astounding 349-yard average in the final three games.

Carroll, led by coach Mike Van Diest, finished 4-6 for the third consecutive season. Emter was a first-team all-state selection at Livingston High School before attending Carroll. He also competes in the shot put for the Fighting Saints’ track and field program, and still holds the Class A state shot put record of 58 feet, three inches.

Southern Oregon quarterback Tanner Trosin, the Frontier Conference MVP, and Eastern Oregon linebacker Michal Arenas were also honored on the AFCA NAIA all-American first team.

Carroll defensive back Tucker Johnson, a senior from Billings, was given a second-team all-American nod. The Saints’ safety accumulated 70 total tackles, 56 solo, for Van Diest’s defense this season. He also had a pair of forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.

“I am excited for Tucker Johnson,” Van Diest said. “He had an outstanding career and an outstanding senior year. A lot of time secondary players are recognized for their interceptions, but he was recognized for his style of play, for the way he led our defense and the tackling he did from the secondary. He made our entire secondary better because of his play and his leadership.”

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