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Scott Mansch: Montana State star Troy Andersen has roots in Murray County

Montana State plays South Dakota State this weekend in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs, and Montana State has a player with Murray County roots.

Scott Mansch photo
Scott Mansch

SLAYTON — Many area college football fans will be following South Dakota State’s clash against Montana State this weekend in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.

After all, the SDSU Jackrabbits have many alumni in Southwest Minnesota and feature a roster that includes familiar names like Reece Winkelman of Marshall, Rudy Voss of Jackson County Central and Ryan Van Marel of Sheldon, Iowa.

But Montana State also has a bit of a fan following here, thanks to Bobcat star linebacker Troy Andersen and his Murray County roots.

Kickoff is Saturday afternoon at 1 in Bozeman, Montana. The game will be televised by ESPN2. The winner meets the victor of Friday night’s North Dakota State-James Madison University clash (8:15 p.m., ESPN2), for the FCS national championship on Jan. 8 in Frisco, Texas.

Andersen has relatives in both Murray County and Nobles County. His mother, Nicole, has many memories of this area. Her parents are Chandler native Art Olivier and Lake Wilson native Kara Heuer, who both attended Worthington Community College.

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Many years ago the family moved to the southwestern Montana town of Dillon, where today Nicole and her husband, Scott Andersen, operate a cattle ranch.

While Troy grew up in cowboy country, he’s no stranger to the farms of the Minnesota prairie.

“We’ve been back there quite a bit to visit relatives,” said Nicole this week from her Montana home. “My mom and dad had a camper and we made quite a few trips back there, usually through the Black Hills.

Troy Andersen is the Bobcats’ best player, an All-American linebacker with size (6-4, 235), speed (4.56 in 40) and smarts (3.91 grade-point average). The Big Sky Conference defensive MVP is among three finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in FCS football.

Andersen starred on offense early in his MSU career, earning all-Big Sky and all-American honors as a sophomore, when he rushed for 1,412 yards and passed for 1,195 yards in 13 games.

Andersen is strictly a linebacker these days and enters Saturday’s game with 127 total tackles, including 13 for loss and two sacks, and two interceptions. He has been selected for the East-West Shrine Bowl, to be played Feb. 3 in Las Vegas. He’s also been selected for the Senior Bowl, which is Feb. 5 in Mobile, Alabama, and he is expected to be selected in late April’s NFL Draft.

Amazingly, should Andersen become a professional athlete he won’t be the only one in his extended family. He also won’t be the lone pro player with Murray County roots.

Andersen’s third cousin is Codi Heuer, a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs who has many relatives in the Lake Wilson area, including his great-grandmother Ann Helmke. Nicole said her family is particularly close with the Heuers.

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“It’s super cool about Codi,” said Nicole Andersen. “He dedicated himself pretty young and went after it. It’s cool to see him now (in the big leagues).”

Troy and Codi’s common great-grandparents are the late Glenn Sr., and Thelma Heuer, who once were prominent people in Lake Wilson. After Glenn Sr., passed away, Thelma married Rex York of Lake Wilson. Many York relatives still live in Murray County.

Nicole’s aunt and uncle, Bob and Rose Munkel, live in Worthington.

Andersen wears No. 15 for Montana State. If the Bobcats are to stifle the talented South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Saturday afternoon, it’s a good bet Andersen will have a lot to do with it.

South Dakota State finished runner-up to Sam Houston State in the FCS tile game last spring, losing 23-21. Montana State, one of many teams in the division that didn’t play last spring, last week knocked off Sam Houston 42-19 in Texas.

South Dakota State has a superb offense. Voss is a reserve quarterback and Van Marel is a reserve offensive lineman.

The Jackrabbit defense, led by the highly touted Winkelman at defensive end, is also top-notch.

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Scott Mansch is a part-time writer for The Globe. He appreciates tips and story ideas and can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com

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