It may still be winter, but football is in the air — sort of.
Montana Tech has released its 2018 football schedule and the Orediggers will play five home and five away games this year. There are no non-Frontier Conference games on the slate this season.
Tech kicks off its season on Sept. 1 against College of Idaho in Caldwell. The Yotes beat the Diggers 64-35 last year, all but eliminating the Tech from the playoffs, so the game could have a bit of a revenge factor.
Eastern Oregon, on Sept. 8, opens up the home slate. It’s also the annual Copper game, but unlike last season it will not be played at night — kickoff is at 1 p.m. In fact, the Diggers do not have any night games at all this season.
The latest kickoff will be at 2 p.m., which happens twice, the first of which will be in Tech’s third game of the year against Southern Oregon, which will be played in Ashland on Sept. 15. The Raiders, who are the defending Frontier champions, lose star quarterback Tanner Trosin but SOU will still be a force next season.
MSU-Northern comes to Butte on Sept. 22, which is the Hall of Fame game. The last time the Lights came to Bob Green field, the Orediggers scored 93 points. The Diggers will have a bye after this contest.
A rivalry game against Montana Western on Oct. 6 is next on the slate, the second season in a row Tech will be playing their rivals in Dillon.
Homecoming, on Oct. 13, brings the Yotes to Butte. The Diggers will play two other teams — EOU and SOU — in two weeks following, respectively. They’ll play the Mountaineers in La Grande and the Raiders in Butte.
Nov. 3 brings renews the rivalry against Carroll College, who Tech played last season. The Orediggers won both of those games.
The regular season ends against Rocky Mountain College, a team that beat the Diggers on a dramatic last-second field goal in 2017.
It’s certainly a tough slate for Montana Tech and won’t be made any easier due to the fact it will have to replace star quarterback Quinn McQueary. The Orediggers also lost some significant pieces on its defense and in its receiving corps, though do bring back running back Jed Fike, who rushed for 1275 yards, averaged 7.2 yards per carry and scored 18 total touchdowns.
It seems likely that at least a few freshman from this year’s recruiting class will see time, but many of those questions won’t start to be answered until Tech starts spring football.