WHITEFISH – The Frontier Conference commissioner announced the football all-conference teams on Monday. The Montana Tech Orediggers led the conference in all-conference selections as well as first team honorees.
The Frontier Conference teams are determined by the leagues head coaches.
Tech led the conference with 13 all-conference selections which included a league leading eight on the first team.
Carroll College placed 11 on the all-conference teams and the College of Idaho had 10. The Yotes five first team selections, the most after the Orediggers. Rocky Mountain had four on the first team and the Saints placed three.
The Orediggers first team selections included three on offense and defense along with two from special teams. The second team honorees consisted of three from the offense and one from both defense and special teams. By class, the Orediggers had four seniors, three juniors, and three sophomores chosen.
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Trevor Hoffman, Blake Counts, and Jack Hiller were first team selections for the offense while Blake Thelen, Carson Shuman, and Kyle Torgerson were named to the second team.
Hoffman, a 6-4 senior from Renton, Washington, finished his career as the all-time leader for the Orediggers in receiving yards (2,897) and touchdowns (26). Hoffman led the conference in receiving yards (757), receptions (50), and was second in receiving touchdowns (6). The all-conference nod is the third for the Hoffman who was a first team selection in 2019 and second team last season.
Counts, a 5-11 junior, is making his first appearance on the first team after being selected second team all-conference his freshman and sophomore seasons. From Kalispell, Counts finished the season with 803 yards on the ground averaging 5.5 yards a carry. Counts rushed over the century mark four times including his last three games. He finished with six rushing touchdowns and caught three more.
Offensive lineman Hiller and Shuman earned their first all-conference awards. Hiller, who is a first team selection, is a senior from La Center, Washington. Shuman was a second team selection and is a junior from Helena, Montana. The Orediggers had one of the most consistent and productive offenses this season leading the league in scoring and second in total yards. Hiller and Shuman led the offensive line that produced 1,663 yards of rushing and a league leading 24 touchdowns on the ground. The Orediggers averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The Tech offensive line gave the Oredigger quarterback ample time to get the pass off giving up the fewest sacks in the conference this season.
Thelen, a sophomore quarterback from Great Falls, Montana, started his first game of his Tech career in the fourth game of the season against a ranked opponent on the road. Thelen threw three touchdowns his first outing and finished with 12 on the season. He averaged 171.9 yards passing a game while completing 53.4% of his passes. Thelen led the conference in efficiency rating while throwing the fewest interceptions.
Torgerson, who garnered second team all-conference as a wide receiver and a kick returner, is making his first appearance on the all-conference teams. Torgerson, a sophomore from Great Falls, was fourth in the conference in receptions (45) and was second to Hoffman in total yards (709). Torgerson took on the additional duties returning the ball and led the conference in all-purpose yards this season with 1,376 total yards. He had the highest kick return average in the league averaging 27.2 per return.
The first team defense selections were Keyshawn James-Newby, Jordan Washington, and Naoki Harmer. Ben Windauer received the defensive second team nod.
James-Newby, a sophomore defensive lineman from Helena Montana, led the conference in sacks (9) and tackles for a loss (14.5) this season. The Capital High product knocked down five passes, the most by a defensive lineman. James-Newby finished the season with 61 tackles with 30 solo stops. James-Newby forced one fumble and recovered two.
Washington and Harmer helped lead the Oredigger secondary that led the conference and ranked sixth in the nation in pass defense giving up only 138.7 yards through the air.
Washington, a junior from Torrance, California, is making his second first team all-conference appearance. The corner shut down opposing receivers finishing fourth in the conference with nine pass breakups. Washington had 23 solo tackles and 43 total while forcing one fumble.
Harmer, a senior from Bellevue, Washington, led the Orediggers and was fourth in the conference in tackles with 75. He also had six tackles for a loss while forcing two fumbles. Harmer continually interrupted the pass game finishing with eight pass breakups and an interception. Harmer's speed and quickness on the field yielded a league high three blocked kicks with two of them being recovered by the Tech defense for touchdowns.
Windauer, a senior linebacker from Columbia Falls, Montana, finished with 55 tackles. He was seventh in the conference averaging 6.9 tackles a game. Windauer had 4.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Windauer had his first career interception returning it 31 yards for a touchdown.
Punter Andrew Almos and kicker Ryan Lowry earned first team all-conference special team honors in addition to Torgerson’s second team nod.
Almos, a sophomore from Great Falls, Montana, was also a first team selection as a freshman last year. Almos led the conference and was second nationally averaging 42.3 yards a punt. Almos had the fewest attempts by a starting punter with 32 on the season but led the league in punts inside the 20 with 21.
Lowry, a sophomore from Pasco, Washington, led the Frontier in scoring, not just kickers, this season with 77 points. He missed only one extra point in 45 attempts and went 11 of 16 in field goals with a season long of 42 yards. Lowry was 12th in the nation in points by a kicker.
Montana Tech finished the 2022 season with a 7-3 record. The Orediggers started the season unranked and reached No. 19 in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll during the year. Tech will return six of their all-conference selections including four first team honorees.