football; HHS vs CHS

Helena High’s Conner Nash breaks up a pass intended for Capital's Brady Martin during a semifinal game at Vigilante Stadium on Nov. 11. Nash was one of nine Helena area players to earn All-State honors. 

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HELENA — Nine local Class AA football players were selected first team All-State; five from Capital High at six positions, and four from State runner-up Helena.

Capital’s Seth Schneider was selected at two positions, running back and outside linebacker.

The rest of the local first team selections were Helena High’s Conner Nash at inside linebacker, defensive end Caeden Suero, Alex Johnson at safety, and punt returner Zach Spiroff; and CHS’ offensive guard Carson Shuman, Trever Welnel at offensive tackle, Justin Jenks on the D-line, and cornerback Mark Northey.

All are seniors except for juniors Johnson and Spiroff.

The Bengals placed six gridders on the second team, while the Bruins had two selections.

Billings Senior’s Gabe Sulser, a receiver, and linebacker Nolan Askelson, were selected the AA’s Offensive and Defensive MVPs, respectively. The Broncs are 2-time, undefeated State champions, and will enter next season riding a 26-game winning streak.

Schneider is now in elite company as a two-time all-stater at two different positions, his junior and senior years. In the 11 games he played this year, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Schneider carried the ball 213 times for 1,578 yards, and 19 touchdowns. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry, and 143 yards rushing per game.

Schneider finished his career with 2,611 rushing yards, broke at least four school records – including Don Saisbury’s 2000 season mark 1,535 yards, and Gunnar Brekke’s 2012 career standard of 2,415 – and tied two others.

On defense he was second on the Bru-crew with eight tackles for loss, and No. 3 at 90 solo tackles and 339 defensive points.

Nash was No. 1 on HHS’ defensive charts in solo tackles (90), tackle assists (68), blocked kicks (three) and fumble recoveries (four), along with HHS modern records for total tackles (184) and defensive points (395).

Suero was high in tackles for loss (26) and hurries (29), while sharing the sacks (10) lead with Nash.

Nash is also ranked third on the school’s all-time list in season solo tackles, while Suero stands No. 2 in season tackles for loss, and fourth in career hurries. They are tied with each other on the Bengals’ rankings in season sacks (fourth) and career sacks (sixth).

Capital’s Northey led the squad with seven interceptions and 12 tipped passes. He was No. 6 with 70 solo tackles, and eighth at 270 defensive points. Jenks was high at 10 sacks and 15 hurries, and was fourth with 72 solo tackles and 334 defensive points. He finished with 19 career sacks.

Johnson paced Helena with six interceptions, 10 deflected passes and two caused fumbles (tie), and was second with three fumble recoveries. He ranks third on the school’s list for season interceptions.

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Spiroff returned 25 punts for 369 yards – No. 2 in the Bengal record books behind Rich Bartell’s 1970 mark of 375 – and a 14.7 yard average, while setting a school record by returning two punts for touchdowns in one game. He was also selected second team cornerback.

On the O-line for Capital, Shuman, at 6-3 and 250 pounds, and Welnel, at 6-3 and 245, helped open the holes for Schneider, with 54 and 30 “Bruin Blocks,” respectively.

Helena’s second team All-Staters were all part of a Bengal offense that scored 36.5 points per game, the second best average in school history.

That quintet consisted of quarterback Kaleb Winterburn (6-2, 190), Kyle Tabbert (5-6, 150) at running back, Jacob Howell (6-2, 215) at tight end, Holden Sampson (6-2, 230) at O-tackle, and wide receiver Zach Huth (5-11, 160).

Making second team for CHS were Conor Quick (6-2, 250) at center, and D-end Alaric Greil (6-2, 230). Quick is just the third Bruin to make first or second team All-State for three straight years, joining Matt Miller and Caleb Kidder.

All are seniors except for juniors Howell, Sampson and Greil.

Capital’s honorable mention All-Staters included Conor McCarvel (wide receiver) and Nick Morrison (inside linebacker). For HHS, Tabbert (KOR), Jack Kanta (outside linebacker), Mark Sullivan (O-guard), Blake Nichols (center), Ray Trudeau (wide receiver), Emmett Buckley (punter) and Holden Sampson (long snapper), were chosen honorable mention as well.

Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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