HELENA — In some ways, it feels like the season just started, but after last Saturday’s slate of games, the 2021 fall Frontier Conference football schedule is complete. After some chaos during the final week of the regular-season, we found out on Sunday which Frontier team will represent the conference in the NAIA playoffs.
Montana Western, Rocky Mountain College and College of Idaho will all split the Frontier Championship at 7-3, while Carroll finishes the year 6-4 and fourth in the league standings. Montana Tech (5-5), Eastern Oregon (4-6), Southern Oregon (3-7) and Montana State Northern (1-9) round out the rankings.
Montana Western earns bid to NAIA Football Championship Series
The Bulldogs entered last Saturday one game behind C of I and Rocky Mountain. After beating the Battlin’ Bears 50-42 in double overtime and the Yotes’ loss to Carroll, Western found itself in a three-way tie atop the Frontier standings.
The Bulldogs will share the conference title with two other teams, but on Sunday, Western found out its season would continue as the No. 16 seed in the 16-team NAIA Football Championship Series. They will go on the road to face the defending national champion and the No. 1 team in the country Lindsey Wilson.
The game will be played at Parnell Family Stadium in Columbia, Kentucky, on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time.
Western received the Frontier’s automatic bid to the playoffs because it was the lone team among programs tied at 7-3 (C of I, Western, Rocky Mountain) that was ranked inside the top-20 in Sunday’s NAIA top-25 coaches poll.
Frontier Conference in the polls
After beating Rocky Mountain College 50-42, Western essentially swapped places with the Battlin’ Bears, rising four spots to No. 19 in the NAIA top-25 coaches poll released on Sunday. Rocky Mountain fell five spots and outside of the all-important top-20 to No. 21 with the loss.
College of Idaho was the biggest mover (in the wrong direction), dropping seven spots to No. 25 following a 21-6 loss to Carroll.
Western, C of I and Rocky Mountain will all share the Frontier title this season after each finishing the 10-game slate at 7-3. The Bulldogs received the conference’s bid to the NAIA playoffs because they were the lone program ranked in the top-20.
Individual league-leaders (in conference-only games)
Total pass yards -
Jon Jund (2,594) - #6 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Nate Dick (2,432) - #7 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Jet Campbell (2,047) - #11 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Pass yards per game -
Jon Jund (259.4) - #11 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Nate Dick (243.2) - #14 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Jet Campbell (227.4) - #20 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Pass TDs -
Jon Jund (27) - #4 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Nate Dick (21) - t-10 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Jet Campbell (17) - t-17 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Total rush yards -
Nick Calzaretta (980) - #7 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Duncan Kraft (855) - #11 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Reese Neville (828) - #13 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Rush TDs -
Nick Calzaretta (14) - t-4 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Reese Neville (10) - t-13 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Jon Jund (8) - t-21 NAIA, t-3 Frontier
Duncan Kraft (8) - t-21 NAIA, t-3 Frontier
Total receiving yards -
Nate Simkins (1,037) - #3 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Bryce Goggin (802) - #10 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Jamison Hermanson (670) - #22 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Receiving TDs -
Nate Simkins (13) - t-3 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Bryce Goggin (8) - t-16 NAIA, t-2 Frontier
Lucas Overton (8) - t-16 NAIA, t-2 Frontier
All-purpose yards per game -
Reese Neville (110.2) - #50 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Nate Simkins (103.7) - #60 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Nick Calzaretta (103.1) - #62 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Total tackles -
Dylan Martinez (109) - #5 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Dylan Wampler (103) - #6 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Hunter Riley (85) - #13 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Tackles per game -
Dylan Martinez (10.9) - #8 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Dylan Wampler (10.3) - #9 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Hunter Riley (8.5) - #47 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Sage DeLong (10) - t-3 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Alejandro Sanchez (9) - #8 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Ethan Hurst (8.5) - t-9 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Tackles for loss -
Sage DeLong (17.5) - t-4 NAIA, t-1 Frontier
Wes Moeai (17.5) - t-4 NAIA, t-1 Frontier
Chase Van Wyck (16) - #9 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Isaiah Paul (7) - t-2 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Stokes Botelho (5) - t-8 NAIA, #2 Frontier
TJ Abraham (3) - t-29 NAIA, t-3 Frontier
Micah Ans (3) - t-29 NAIA, t-3 Frontier
5 more with 3 interceptions
Field goal percentage -
Cesar Ruiz (78%) - t-24 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Stephen Powell (75%) - t-26 NAIA, #2 Frontier
Zachary Cahill (67%) - t-37 NAIA, #3 Frontier
Kick points (FG & XPT) -
Riley Garrett (68) - t-8 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Zachary Cahill (54) - t-14 NAIA, t-2 Frontier
Stephen Powell (54) - t-14 NAIA, t-2 Frontier
Punt average -
Andrew Almos (44.5) - #2 NAIA, #1 Frontier
Conference Players of the Week
Offense: Running back Reese Neville, Montana Western
Defense: Defensive back TJ Abraham, Carroll
Special Teams: Kicker Ryan Lowry, Montana Tech
Week 12 top performers
Montana Western running back Reese Neville: 226 rush yards, 1 TD — 22 receiving yards
Montana Western quarterback Jon Jund: 23-for-45 passing, 328 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs — 70 rush yards, 2 TDs
Carroll running back Baxter Tuggle: 123 rush yards, 2 TDs
Rocky Mountain College quarterback Nate Dick: 16-for-38 passing, 194 yards, 4 TDs — 107 rush yards
Montana Western wide receiver Nate Simkins: 9 receptions, 159 yards, 3 TDs
Eastern Oregon quarterback Kai Quinn: 20-for-34 passing, 284 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT — 52 rush yards, 1 TD
Eastern Oregon wide receiver Isaiah Thomas: 8 receptions, 147 yards
Montana Tech running back Blake Counts: 147 rush yards
Montana Western wide receiver Jamison Hermanson: 6 receptions, 101 yards, 1 TD
Carroll running back Duncan Kraft: 114 rush yards
Carroll defensive back TJ Abraham: 18 tackles, 2 forced fumbles
Rocky Mountain College linebacker Nolan McCafferty: 14 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL
Rocky Mountain College defensive back Tyler Hilliard: 14 tackles
Montana State Northern defensive back Hunter Riley: 13 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble
Southern Oregon linebacker Drew Schuler: 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 pass break-up
Montana State Northern defensive lineman Chase Gilbert: 11 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 1 forced fumble
Montana Western linebacker Joe Caicedo: 12 tackles, 1 pass break-up
College of Idaho linebacker Tanner Leaf: 10 tackles, 0.5 sack, 0.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble
Eastern Oregon linebacker Hayden Brandon: 10 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL
Montana Tech linebacker Bridger Johnson: 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 3.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble
Montana Tech kicker Ryan Lowry: 2-for-2 FG, long 47, 5-5 extra-point, 11 points
Montana Tech punter Andrew Almos: 4 punts, 221 yards, 55.3 avg., long 61, 1 touchback, 3 punts inside 20-yard line
Rocky Mountain College punter Wyatt Brusven: 7 punts, 287 yards, 41 avg., long 60, 1 touchback, 3 punts inside 20-yard line
Montana State Northern punter Hunter Riley: 10 punts, 432 yards, 43.2 avg., long 50, 3 punts inside 20-yard line
College of Idaho punter Jacob Johnson: 4 punts, 150 yards, 37.5 avg., long 41, 2 punts inside 20-yard line
Carroll punter Brock Paldi: 4 punts, 146 yards, 36.5 avg., long 40, 1 punt inside 20-yard line
Southern Oregon punter Nolan Rinefort: 7 punts, 246 yards, 35.1 avg., long 59, 4 punts inside 20-yard line
Montana Tech wide receiver Mark Estes: 5 punt returns, 78 yards, 15.6 avg., long 37
Week 13 (playoffs) prediction
No. 1 Lindsey Wilson vs. No. 16 Montana Western: Blue Raiders 42, Bulldogs 28
After winning the NAIA National Championship in the spring, Lindsey Wilson will attempt to defend its banner as the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. The Blue Raiders were the wire-to-wire top team in the nation this year, finishing the regular-season at 10-0.
Lindsey Wilson and Western are two of the top-15 offenses in the country, each averaging north of 40 points per game. The two teams scored a combined 99 points in their final regular-season contests, but only Western allowed points (42 to Rocky Mountain in a double overtime win).
Paired with its high-octane offense, Lindsey Wilson boasts the country’s best defense in terms of points allowed per game (7.5) and is the only team in the NAIA that has held its opponent, on average, to less than 10 points per game.
Western quarterback Jon Jund will enter the matchup after racking up six total touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing) last Saturday. Running back Reese Neville also amassed 226 yards on the ground and the Bulldogs totaled over 600 yards of offense.
Jund is 75 yards away from eclipsing 3,000 for the year and has tossed 31 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. His 265.9 passing yards per game ranks ninth in the NAIA (including non-conference games).