DILLON — The Montana Western football team takes its No. 22 ranking on the road for its matchup against Eastern Oregon on Saturday. The Bulldogs haven’t been ranked in the top 25 since they were ranked 19th in the 2017 preseason polls.
The Bulldogs are one of the hottest teams in the Frontier Conference, starting the season with a 3-0 record and coming off an upset win over Rocky Mountain College, which was ranked 14th at the time. The team recognition that has slowly been building up around the Bulldogs is now starting to resonate with the team.
“I think it’s nice to get the recognition, and it’s really just a part of what you have to do if you ever want a chance in the postseason,” said Western head coach Ryan Nourse.
Nourse, for the most part, doesn’t like to get caught up in rankings, standings, and accolades every week. But even he was excited and proud of his team for their No. 22 ranking, and he has a lot of good reasons.
Other than the 3-0 start and the Rocky win, quarterback Jon Jund, linebacker Jason Ferris, and kicker Mark Kharchenko all received Frontier Conference player-of-the-week honors. The Bulldogs are making waves now in the Frontier, and they know that teams are going to be taking them a lot more seriously when they prepare for a game with the Bulldogs.
“I don’t think necessarily anybody in the Frontier is taking a game for granted, that they’re necessarily going to get a win,” said Ferris. “So now that we’re off to a 3-0 start, it definitely puts a little bit of a target on our backs and makes us a little bit bigger of a game for them.”
The Bulldogs go on the road this weekend for their game against Eastern Oregon. It’ll be the first time the Bulldogs have gone on the road since their 16-10 season-opening win over Carroll on Sept. 1.
A team as inexperienced as Western can present a challenge in terms of getting players ready for their first big road trip as a team. However, Nourse said that, despite the fact his team is loaded with young guys, the Bulldogs also have a lot of guys who have done this before. Nourse said it will be up to those guys to set the bar of how to balance the fun of the road trip with the seriousness that needs to be presented the moment the players step on the field.
Western and Eastern Oregon kick off in La Grande, Ore. at 1 p.m. Saturday.