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More preseason honors, another game in doubt for Griz

| July 28, 2020 12:34 PM

While the preseason plaudits pile up for the Montana Grizzly football team another of its home nonconference games is in doubt.

Morehead (Kentucky) State of the Pioneer League was scheduled to play at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Sept. 19, but on Monday the far-flung Football Championship Subdivision league announced it was going to a conference-only schedule in 2020.

A statement from the University of Montana noted the Pioneer League’s decision but added that it had been in contact with Morehead State athletic director Jamie Gordon, who plans to seek a waiver to keep the game on the schedule.

“While understanding the state of college athletics ius in flux, it remains the intention of both institutions to play the nonconference game as scheduled on Sept. 19 in Missoula,” the statement said.

Meanwhile Phil Steele Magazine and draftscout.com combined to publish preseason All-America and All-Big Sky Conference teams, and 13 Grizzlies received mention.

Receivers Samori Toure and Samuel Akem were first-team picks along with lineman Conlan Beaver on offense. On defense Jace Lewis is a first-team pick at linebacker as well as being the preseason defensive MVP, and Robby Hauck is first-team at defensive back.

Malik Flowers was also the first-team pick at kick returner.

Montana State had three first-team selections: offensive lineman Lewis Kidd, defensive lineman Chase Benson and linebacker Amandre Williams.

Junior Patrick O’Connell out of Glacier High was a third-team pick.

Flowers, Lewis and Toure were All-America first-team picks, along with Griz long snapper Matthew O’Donaghue.

The Big Sky had two other first-team All-America picks: Portland State defensive back Anthony Adams and Northern Arizona kicker Luis Aguilar.

The Grizzlies open their season Sept. 12 at Missouri State. With Division II Central Washington’s cancelation of the Sept. 6 matchup, their home opener was set to be against Morehead State.

It remains to be seen how the season plays out in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, and UM’s statement said as much:

“The University of Montana, the Big Sky Conference, its presidents and athletic directors will continue to monitor national developments and proceed in a way that ensures the health and safety of student-athletes and the community at large,” it read.