A trio of Fallon’s best are heading to the college gridiron.
The Fallon-to-Montana pipeline continues its long-standing tradition as running back Trent Tarner, offensive lineman Brennan Lewis and linebacker Dakota Schelling all signed their letters of intent to play at Montana State University-Northern.
Northern is a NAIA school and competes in the Frontier Conference. The Lights finished 4-6 last season.
The conference, meanwhile, sported three schools ranked in the top 25 including Carroll College (Mont.), Rocky Mountain College (Mont.) and Southern Oregon University.
The Fallon threesome, meanwhile, were some of the Division I-A’s best talent last season and led the Greenwave to a 10-2 record and a state runner-up finish.
The process for Schelling and Lewis, though, wasn’t too tough. Both said they wanted to pursue degrees in diesel mechanics, which is one of Northern’s best programs.
Tarner, meanwhile, said he will pursue a degree in civil engineering.
“I really like math, and they have a really good civil engineering program,” Tarner said.
Tarner, who will play running back for Northern, was a first-team all-state selection at linebacker and second-team all-North choice at running back. He rushed for 1,471 yards on 167 carries and tallied 19 touchdowns. In addition, he only lost one fumble.
For his career, Tarner rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 27 TDs in leading a resurgent Fallon program to the Northern DI-A playoffs twice.
“I really like Montana,” Tarner said. “They gave me a good offer and said I could play right as I step on the field, so I chose them.”
Schelling, meanwhile, was a beast on defense leading the Wave with 106 tackles, recorded eight sacks and intercepted two pass including one returned for a TD.
He also played tight end, where he caught two passes — both for TDs.
After the 2012 season, Schelling did not think he wanted to continue his athletic career. He became more focused on academics, but a change of heart during in the past several months convinced him to hit the recruiting trail.
“After my junior season, I felt I should focus on school, Schelling said. “I didn’t know how my senior season would go. After finishing the (2013) football season, I knew I wanted to continue playing football.”
He went through a national online recruiting service, and when the results came up dry, he went out on his own. Soon he found interest from several schools and after a visit to Northern, he was sold.
“They have one of the top diesel programs in the nation,” Schelling said. “We got to meet the coaches, and they offered us pretty good scholarships.”
Lewis was perhaps Fallon’s most physical lineman. He tallied 16 pancake blocks on offense and opened up holes for Tarner.
On defense, Lewis recorded 19 tackles and led team with forced four fumbles. He was named second-team all-state as an offensive lineman.
Lewis was also pursued by the University of Montana Western in Dillon, the University of Redlands (Calif.) and University of the Pacific (Calif). Ultimately, Lewis landed at Northern to pursue his degree in diesel mechanics.
“They have the degree I want and I can play football at the same time,” Lewis said.
The pipeline to Northern, which is located in Havre and is about 30 minutes to the Canadian border, opened with 2013 Fallon grad Tyson Ernst.
Ernst, who is also majoring in diesel mechanics, plays receiver for the Lights and will be another familiar face for Tarner, Lewis and Schelling.
Lewis and Tarner said they both spoke with Ernst briefly about the campus, college life and the program and his thoughts took off some pressure.
The fact the 2014 grads will make the journey to college together makes the process easier, they said.
“It’s going to be nice to not take this venture alone,” Schelling said. “A couple of us can room together and figure out our freshman year.”
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