Prep Football Previews: Eastern A

Prep Football Previews: Eastern A

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Prep Football Previews: Eastern A

Four playoff-caliber teams beat up on each other last season in the Eastern A, and don’t expect it to be any different this season.

Billings Central, Laurel, Miles City and Glendive all return key guys, but Sidney’s 20 seniors give them an edge in experience.

Billings Central

The Rams graduated the best player in Class A last season in Holden Ryan, who is now with the Montana Grizzlies, but coach Jim Stanton does bring back some talent from last season’s state semifinal team.

Senior linebacker Dean Studer (5-11, 180) leads that group as the only first-team all-conference honoree, though QB/DB Michael Stanton (6-3, 190) and OL/DL Ben Smith (6-3, 235) both got second-team nods as juniors last year.

The wiry Jacob Hadley (6-5, 190) looks to contribute at receiver and defensive back.

Stanton’s line should be strong with four starters returning on both sides of the ball.

Glendive

The Red Devils won their first league game in coach Ryan Buckley’s four-year tenure last season, defeating Hardin.

Buckley’s team brings back some talent, too, in the form of tight end Jarod Aasche (6-8, 215) and cornerback Carson Oakland (6-2, 155), both second-team all-leaguers as juniors.

Kacen French (6-2, 210) moves from safety to linebacker, where he’ll join Gunnar Garpstead (5-6, 140). Both were honorable mention all-conference last season, and both will get carries at running back.

Hardin

Senior Connor Murdock (5-6, 200) returns for the Bulldogs as an all-conference running back and will play linebacker as well. He’s joined by senior Johnny Morgan (6-1, 250) on the line for fifth-year coach Mike Flamm.

Hardin didn’t win a game last season but boasts more team speed than the 2014 team did.

Laurel

The Locomotives lost as much talent to graduation as anyone in the league, but the sting is lessened by the transfer of junior quarterback Casey Cole (6-0, 185), who was an All-State pick at Class B Forsyth last season.

Veteran coach Mike Ludwick said Cole and senior Caje Golden (6-0, 160) will split time between quarterback and receiver.

Ludwick’s son, Connor (5-10, 150) is an all-league linebacker returning for his senior year. A classmate, Brandon Connolly (6-0, 290) will anchor the line.

Miles City

Coach Dan Stanton’s club hopes to get back to the postseason with a roster highlighted by All-State lineman Jaden Senger (6-5, 215), a senior.

Fellow senior Matt Blunt (5-11, 180) takes over at quarterback and was an all-league safety last year.

Senior running back Jared Bartlett (6-1, 190) and linebacker Lane Govanniti (6-2, 210) round out the Cowboys’ top returners.

Sidney

Experience will be the calling card for the state’s easternmost Class A program with a class of 20 seniors hungry to make a final playoff push after missing out on the postseason despite a 6-3 record in 2014.

That class is led by OL/LB Hunter Severson (6-0, 230), an all-stater at middle backer, and RB/S Bridger Coffman (5-10, 172), who was the leading rusher for coach Roger Merritt.

Merritt will also look to a plethora of all-conference returners in OL/DL Matt Dey (6-0, 270), LB Trent Schilling (5-11, 220), TE/LB Kyle Meuller (6-1, 210) and FB/DE Chris Gartner (6-1, 210) to help pave the way.

Senior Tell Hermanson (6-0, 200) will take over at quarterback, replacing graduated All-Stater Gresh Jones.

Eastern A

Coaches’ Poll:

1. Billings Central

2. Sidney

3. Laurel

4. Miles City

5. Glendive

6. Hardin

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