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Pirates put pen to paper

Wilson, Rensvold sign with Griz, Burke with Orediggers

POLSON – Last Wednesday marked the most important day in the lives of many prep football players across the country. On National signing day, players sign letters of intent, declaring where they will play at the college level. It is a festive event that marks the end of an athlete’s high school career and celebrates the start of their collegiate career.

Such an event, hosted by the Polson Elks Club, was complete with food, family, friends and football.

The community celebration, with more than 100 in attendance, was dedicated to Pirates Tanner Wilson, Matthew Rensvold and Jonah Burke as they make their transition from playing Friday nights under the lights to playing on Saturday.

A testament to their hard work ethic and tenacity, the Pirate trio has collected numerous individual and team accolades. The boys will close their high school football career out as All-Conference, All-State and All-Pirate.

The Pirate pair end a 29- year drought of Griz recruits from Polson. Defensive lineman Kirk Murphy was the last Pirate to suit up for the Griz. Murphy played for the Griz from 1988 through 1991. As a senior, Murphy earned first team All-Big Sky Conference status.

Burke, Rensvold and Tanner were unanimous in which Pirate memory meant the most to them — this season’s home game against the Columbia Falls Wildcats.

“I still think about that game most every day,” said Rensvold.

It was a game in which the Pirates found themselves down 10-6 at halftime to the top-ranked team in the state.

During the third quarter, the Pirates out-scored the Wildcats 28-17 and then held them scoreless in the fourth quarter to go on to beat the Wildcats 42-27 and seal the Northwestern A Championship for the Pirates.

Wilson finished the game completing 12 of 23 passes for 310 yards and threw three touchdowns. Rensvold had 12 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

On the defensive side of ball, Burke had three tackles and Rensvold had one sack and nine tackles.

“Winning the conference with a great group of guys … was just amazing,” Burke said. “It’s one thing I will never forget.”

This fall, Burke will suit up for coach Chuck Morrell and the Montana Tech Orediggers. The 2017 Orediggers will be in search of their third straight Frontier Conference Championship.

“Coach Morrell is a great guy,” said Burke. “He made (Montana Tech) seem like another home for me, like I needed to be there. I felt really comfortable around him. So, it played a big factor in choosing (Montana Tech).”

Rensvold and Wilson will continue their football careers at the next level as teammates with coach Bob Stitt and the Montana Grizzlies.

“My whole life I always wanted to play college football,” said Rensvold. “The Griz have been always just down the road. So, I have gone to all their games. When coach Stitt called me this summer, I was like, I am going to the Griz, that’s where I want to go.”

Come fall, the duo’s roles for the Griz will not be unfamiliar. Wilson will play quarterback and Rensvold wide receiver.

“I’m super excited,” Wilson said. “Matthew is one of my best friends in the whole world, y’know, I get to go play with him. It made it an easy choice to go play with the Griz."

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