MISSOULA — Tyler Murray is jumping from the 8-Man coaching ranks to Class A.
After four years of leading the St. Ignatius (Mission) Bulldogs, Murray has been hired as the head football coach at East Helena High School, he told MTN Sports.
Glendive native and Dickinson State grad Carson Oakland will replace Murray as the head coach of the Bulldogs this coming fall.
A Stevensville native and Hamilton High School graduate, Murray led the Bulldogs to the 8-Man playoffs in 2019 and 2020. Their first appearance in 2019 snapped an 18-year postseason drought for the school. He also served as the school's athletic director during his time there.
"Mission's full of great people. Great kids, great parents, great community," Murray said. "They were very supportive of me and they bought into everything that we wanted to do. If it wasn't for them we wouldn't have been as successful as we were.
"We saw a whole senior class through, from freshman through seniors. Those kids were on it right away and I think coach Oakland's going to have a great time over there just continuing the same stuff and putting his own wrinkles in."
Murray played college football at Montana Western and graduated in 2017, marking Mission as his first teaching and coaching gig after college. He'll also teach physical education and health at East Helena High School.
Murray's first fall at East Helena will be the school's inaugural season at the varsity football level, a challenge he's looking forward to. The school has spent the past two years competing at the sub-varsity level and will compete in the Western A when the season begins later this year.
"It's really an exciting challenge," Murray said. "It's a challenge that us as East Helena, the coaching staff and community do the process of doing things the right way. The success and the wins will take care of themselves if we start doing things the right way. If we can be good in the weight room, good on academics to get kids to college and doing the right thing and really being a first-class program."
Oakland comes to St. Ignatius after spending the past three seasons as the receivers coach at Dickinson State, his alma mater. After standing out at Dawson County High School in Glendive, Oakland played receiver for the Blue Hawks. ACL injuries in 2017 and 2018 ended his college career prematurely, but in 2018 toward the end of the season took over as receivers coach for the Blue Hawks, a position he held for three years.
"It was kind of a dream come true, I was talking to my wife about wanting to be a head coach somewhere and to be able to start out so young was awesome," Oakland said. "It's kind of a dream to be here."
Oakland credited Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton, fellow Glendive native and DSU offensive coordinator Russell McCarvel and DSU defensive coordinator Jason Thier as his biggest influences and mentors for him wanting to get into coaching.
Oakland and his wife, Sierra (Pica) Oakland, married last summer and were looking for a place to settle down with their newborn baby. Sierra originally hails from Butte and was a standout at Butte Central, and the couple wanted to be closer to her family while Carson was looking for his first teaching job. He'll teach physical education and health in St. Ignatius at the high school while Sierra will work at the hospital in Polson.
"It's been awesome, she loves it here and kind of had to find a place we could both start our careers with a young family," Oakland said. "I open up the weight room every day and we have about 12-14 kids in the weight room which is huge. Coach Murray came in and changed the culture and he's done a great job so I'm trying to keep that going. We're just trying to set our goals on conference championships and state championships and making the playoffs is what we want to do and it's the expectation now and they're buying in.
"The guys are great, they're funny to be around. They enjoy each other. It's a good group."