With the fall high school sports season narrowed down to just two events, this week's crew of Prep Athletes of the Week hopefuls have been trimmed to three apiece between the boys and girls.
Just as the days get shorter and the games in both volleyball and football get more important, the nominee list grows more elite.
With respect to Garrett Graves, Scotty Twite, Colton Grange, Landers Smith — who all had big games in playoff matchups — and others on the boys' side, this iteration of Prep Athletes of the Week was an attempt to get as many newcomers a nod as possible.
Each week, we nominate an equal number of boys and girls for our “Prep Athletes of the Week.” Readers will be able to vote for one boy and one girl in polls that appear by noon Monday at Missoulian.com. Voting will be open through 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The winners will be published in the Missoulian’s Prep Extra section each Thursday.
Here are this week’s nominees:
Corvallis' Maureen Jessop helped carry her Blue Devils to a Western A divisional volleyball title over the weekend. Despite falling to Libby on Friday, Corvallis came back to beat the Loggers twice in the championship to earn the No. 1 seed to state. Jessop finished with 22 total kills and 41 total digs across the two championship games.
Florence's Shannon Byrne led her team in kills and blocks in the team's Western B divisional title game, as the Falcons topped host Eureka, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22 Saturday. Byrne finished with a game-high 11 kills and two blocks, and she added another 15 kills and two aces in Florence's opening win against Bigfork on Thursday. The Falcons take the West's No. 1 seed into the state tournament starting Thursday.
Libby's Brooklyn Rainer had a monster game at the net in both Western A title games Saturday. Although her Loggers lost to Corvallis, they still take the West's No. 2 seed to state, and the rest of Montana will want to look out for Rainer. She finished with 39 kills between the two title games, including a match-best 20 in the second chipper. Rainer added two aces in Game 2 and five blocks in Game 1.
Hamilton's Tyler Chouinard dominated in every facet of the game Saturday to help his Broncs to a 47-0 Class A quarterfinal football win against Glendive. The senior finished with a team-leading 106 yards receiving, including a 24-yard touchdown reception. He also threw a 53-yard touchdown pass, coming off a reverse, to Tyler Barnes. Chouinard then added a one-handed interception on defense as well as a perfectly executed de-cleating block, plus he had a 63-yard punt return. The Broncs will host Billings Central in a state semifinal.
Caden Messer's performance on both sides of the ball in Missoula Sentinel's 26-6 Class AA playoff win against crosstown rival Missoula Big Sky gives the senior the advantage over a host of Spartan candidates. Messer scored two rushing touchdowns for Sentinel, and he was second in total yards on the ground to Elias DeWaters (172). Messer also finished with 11 tackles, which led a Spartan defense that allowed 208 total yards to the state's No. 2 team.
Columbia Falls' Austin Green carried his Wildcats to a 48-8 Class A quarterfinal victory against Miles City on Saturday. The run-and-gun quarterback rushed for a team-best 154 yards and he added five total touchdowns. Four of those scores came on the ground, and Green added a passing touchdown, part of his 10-for-13, 122-yard day in the air. The Wildcats will face Sidney in a state semifinal.