Montana to utilize Dillon’s shotgun spread against ND in Badlands BowlMILES CITY, Mont. — Terry Thomas’ shotgun, multi-wideout offense will be on display during the Badlands Bowl on Saturday.
By: Greg Rachac, Billings Gazette, Special to The Dickinson Press
MILES CITY, Mont. — Terry Thomas’ shotgun, multi-wideout offense will be on display during the Badlands Bowl on Saturday.
But the consensus among the Montana All-Stars is that they’ll need to establish balance if they’re to have success against North Dakota and end a three-game road losing streak.
“We have a lot of strong wideouts and obviously a lot of great running backs too. So we could see a mixture,” said Billings West’s Brady Gustafson, who will split time at quarterback with Dillon’s J.T. Linder. “We have to keep the tempo up and get a good diversity of run and pass and really keep the defense on their feet.”
Thomas, the five-time state champion-winning coach from Dillon, leads the Montana All-Stars into Dickinson today, where they haven’t won since 2003. With Gustafson and Linder in tow, Thomas said he plans to open up the playbook and spread out the offense.
Still, Thomas reiterated that the Treasure State stars need to find a happy medium.
“We’re going to run our shotgun offense,” Thomas said. “We’ll probably run three and four wide (receivers) most of the game. We don’t have any two-back stuff planned, but it’s just a matter of trying to adapt what we think we can execute in a week and go with it. Both of our quarterbacks have real strong arms, which allows for everything in our playbook pass-wise. It’s just a matter of trying to get it timed up.
“But if you’re going to have any success at all it starts up front with the offensive line. Our kids are working very hard to get our zone blocking schemes down, as well as our trap schemes. If we can do that — if we can mix in the run with the pass — that will make us pretty tough to defend.”
Montana’s stable of running backs includes West’s Clay Compton, Billings Senior’s Chad Newell and Helena High’s Nate Caldwell. They’ll look for holes behind an offensive line that boasts Helena Capital’s Caleb Kidder, Bozeman’s Ben Weyer, Miles City’s Clint LaRowe, Billings Skyview’s Shane Walk and Kalispell Flathead’s Nick Riley.
When they go to the air, Gustafson and Linder will look for receivers like Helena’s Dylan Simac, Billings Central’s Ryan Burke, Kalispell Glacier’s Anthony Gugliuzza, Miles City’s Dalton Reid and Stevensville’s Josh Lords.
“Ryan and I have gotten some chemistry over the past year, and it’s good to finally get with Dylan Simac,” Gustafson said. “I’m used to seeing him on defense and trying to throw around him. It’s good to have him on my side.”
Added Linder: “They’ve got a lot of speed and athletic ability. Ryan Burke is 6-4 and you can just lob the ball to him. Dylan Simac is a fast kid. All the kids out here are amazing. Dalton Reid, Anthony Gugliuzza … they’re all just great kids and a lot of fun to be around.”
Thomas said he and his staff expect North Dakota to employ the power running game of coach Rod Oksendahl, the head coach at Shanley High School in Fargo. Oksendahl last helmed the North Dakota team in 2005 when it beat Montana 53-29.
Thomas said Montana’s chance to win hinges on its ability to contend with that running game, which will include Dayton Marek of Grand Forks Red River, Zayne Medhaug of Wahpeton, Landon Smith of Stanley-Powers Lake and Seth Westby of Mandan.
The players seem to agree.
“We’ve got to go hard and fill our gaps,” said Chinook linebacker Ben Stroh. “You’ve just got to tackle the guy with the ball, read what the play is doing and be in the right spot at the right time.”
NOTES: Montana leads the series 13-5 and has won four of the last seven meetings, including a 34-13 victory last year at Denton Field. … Montana made one roster change prior to beginning preparations here: Butte DL Cody Carriger will not play. He was replaced by West’s Jordan Brusio. … North Dakota won the previous three games in Dickinson by scoring an average of 41 points.