BUTTE — All in all, Montana Tech football's 2022 season marked a significant step in the right direction for the Orediggers in head coach Kyle Samson's second full season guiding the program.
Tech finished with a winning 7-3 record after closing out the previous season at .500. But a home loss to Montana Western in the regular season finale handed the Orediggers that third loss, knocking them out of playoff contention.
With Tech opening a three-week spring camp on Wednesday, the Orediggers have had four months to dwell on the success of last falls campaign and also on how they hope to build on it.
"We're proud of what we were able to do last year, but we're not satisfied," said Samson from Bob Green Field. "And we know that we gotta get better. This league is very, very tough.
"But we have a lot of returners back, a lot of leadership, a lot of veterans. We're a little further ahead than we've ever been."
The Orediggers will return the running back tandem of Blake Counts and Kaleb Winterburn, a duo that accounted for 1,300 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
The receiving corp will have a big spot to fill with Trevor Hoffman — Tech's top wideout the past three seasons — set to graduate. Hoffamn led the Orediggers with 757 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season.
For redshirt junior Kyle Torgerson — who had 703 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in 2022 — he know he and his position group are going to need to up their collective production in 2023.
"It's definitely going to be a big position to fill but we got the guys to come in," said Torgerson. "We had some pretty good depth last year and we got a bunch of guys coming back.
"Everyone in our receiver room just has to step up and I think that's the mindset that everyone has. It'll be good to see what happens in spring ball."
Also graduated from the program is starting quarterback Jet Cambpell. But the heir apparent is a proven signal caller in redshirt junior Blake Thelen who filled in for an injured Campbell for seven games last season and threw for 1375 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"Obviously Blake Thelen ha a ton of experience, started seven games for us," said Samson. "So he's coming in as the guy. He won a lot of football games for us."
Spring ball is a chance to examine and build roster depth and chance to take stock of a where a team is at midway between the end of one season and the beginning of another.
And for a Tech team that's looking to make another playoff push this fall, getting back on Bob Green Field marked the first steps toward realizing that goal.
"It's been a good offseason, but it's been a while since we've been on the football field," said Samson. "It's always exciting to get out for the first day."