Led by Helena High's Western Conference Defensive Co-MVPs Conner Nash and Caeden Suero, 14 local Class AA football players have been selected first-team all-conference.
Helena went 9-3 and finished as state runners-up to two-time champion Billings Senior. The Bengals placed seven players at eight positions on the West's first team.
Capital High (7-5) reached the playoff semifinals before losing to the Bengals. Seven Bruins at eight positions were selected first-team all-league.
Capital running back/outside linebacker Seth Schneider and Bengal cornerback/punt returner Zach Spiroff were chosen first-team at two positions.
Missoula Big Sky quarterback Levi Janacaro is the Western Conference Offensive MVP.
Other Bengals on the first team are wide receiver Zach Huth, tight end Jacob Howell, offensive tackle Holden Sampson and safety Alex Johnson. The other CHS players chosen are cornerback Mark Northey, D-lineman Justin Jenks, Carson Shuman at O-guard, O-tackle Trevor Welnel, center Conor Quick and Alaric Greil at D-end.
All are seniors except for Johnson, Spiroff, Howell, Greil and Sampson.
Nash, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound inside linebacker, and Suero, a 6-0, 235-pound defensive end, paced a Helena defense that allowed just 17 points a game. The Bengals held the Broncs to 21 points in the championship, their lowest output of the season.
Nash broke two modern-era school season records with 184 total tackles and 395 defensive points. He also tied the HHS mark of three fumble recoveries in a game, and led the Bengals with 90 solo tackles, 68 assisted tackles, three blocked kicks and four recovered fumbles. Nash and Suero shared the team lead with 10 sacks apiece.
Suero just missed Helena's season tackles-for-loss record, with 26. He paced the squad with 29 hurries, and was No. 2 at 302 defensive points and 46 assists.
Schneider established five CHS rushing records and shares two others, including carries in a game (33), career carries (385), regular season rushing yards (1,304), overall season rushing yards (1,578), career rushing yards (2,611), rushing touchdowns in a game (4,tie) and total TDs in a game (5, tie). He also rushed for 19 TDs this year.
On defense, Schneider was No. 2 on the team with eight tackles for loss, and third with 90 solo tackles and 339 defensive points.
Spiroff was No. 2 on the Bengal defense at four interceptions and eight deflected passes. He set a school record by returning two punts for touchdowns in one game, and posted 25 returns on the year for 369 yards (14.7 average).
Johnson paced Helena with six interceptions, 10 deflected passes and two caused fumbles (tie), and was second with three fumble recoveries.
Huth made 43 catches for 583 yards and seven TD receptions. Howell caught 11 passes for 117 yards and two scores, but was selected for mainly his blocking.
Sampson helped Helena's offense to 4,222 yards of total offense, and a scoring average of 35 points a game, while leading the line with seven pancake blocks.
Capital’s Northey led the squad with seven interceptions and 12 tipped passes, and was No. 6 with 70 solo tackles. Jenks was high at 10 sacks and 15 hurries, and was fourth with 72 solo tackles and 334 defensive points. Greil was No. 1 with 11 tackles for loss and two safeties, and second at six sacks and eight hurries.
On the O-line, Shuman led the battle in the trenches with 54 “Bruin Blocks,” followed by Quick’s 34, and 30 from Welnel.
Capital’s second-team all-conference selections are wide receiver Conor McCarvel and linebacker Nick Morrison.
Making second team for Helena are quarterback Kaleb Winterburn, Kyle Tabbert at running back and kickoff returner/outside linebacker Jack Kanta, wide receiver Ray Trudeau, offensive guard Mark Sullivan, center Blake Nichols, punter Emmett Buckley and Sampson at long snapper.