CollegeFrontier Conference


Frontier champion Montana Western 'hungrier than ever' as Bulldogs open spring camp

Posted at 2:14 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 18:41:55-04

DILLON — After last season's Vigilante Stadium farewell tour, the reigning Frontier Conference champion Montana Western football team returned to its old stomping grounds on Monday.

The Bulldogs, who last November clinched their first outright league crown for the first time since 1995 and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1994, kicked off a three-week spring camp at Vigilante while their new on-campus turf field facility is being built over what used to be their old practice field.

A mild winter has expedited the construction of the field and the Bulldogs are expected to open their 2024 campaign there against Eastern Oregon.

"It puts us on more of an even footing with our competition," said Western head coach Ryan Nourse. "When you plow snow off of grass, it turns to mud. When you plow snow off of turf, it just turns to cold turf."

The final season at Vigilante ultimately ended in disappointment as the Bulldogs fell to College of Idaho in a 49-42 shootout in the second round of the playoffs on Nov. 25. The Bulldogs concluded the season at 9-2 overall with their only losses coming to the Yotes.

"We were outright conference champions, but we lost in the playoffs. That makes us hungrier than ever," said senior defensive back Braden Swank. "We have the talent to get back to where we want to be."

Western's defense will have some spots to shore up this spring with key players like defensive linemen Reese Artz and Tanner Harrell, linebacker Kameron Rauser and defensive back Jaden Amasiu graduating.

The Bulldogs' offense returns a plethora of talent including the 2023 Frontier Conference offensive player of the year in quarterback Michael Palandri, first-team All-American receiver Eli Nourse and running backs Jake Humphrey and Pete Gibson who combined for 10 touchdowns and over 1,000 rushing yards last season.

Western will spend these next three weeks leading up to its annual scrimmage building a two-deep roster with the understanding that all positions are up for grabs and must be earned. And while what the Bulldogs accomplished last season was something to celebrate, their attention is now fully on the season ahead.

"Last year was awesome, it was a great year, something for everyone involved to be proud of," said coach Nourse. "But that's in the past. The forefront right now is, what are we doing to put ourselves in a position to have an opportunity at another shot at something like that?"