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Nagel, Sawyer ink with Western Montana

The Falcon stars will play in one of the toughest NAIA conferences in the country

MILWAUKIE - La Salle High athletic standouts Chris Nagel and Jeff Sawyer have signed National Letters of Intent to play football at Western Montana University, a NAIA school that competes in the tough Frontier Conference.

'We'll see how hard they work over the summer,' said Western Montana coach Rich Ferris. 'We'd like them to spend some time in the weight room and put on a little size. They could redshirt, or if they work hard and show up ready to go and prove themselves, they could start.'

Ferris says his Bulldogs have been a competitive team in a very competitive conference.

'We've got Carroll College in our conference and they've been national champions five out of the last six years,' said Ferris. 'We play them twice and our conference is so tough they usually get better games in conference than they get in the first two rounds of the playoffs.'

'Last year Western Montana went 5-4 [on the season],' said Nagel. 'They started with a four-game win streak but then they lost their top three quarterbacks [to injuries] in one game.'

'We run a spread, one-back offense,' said Ferris. 'If we run 80 plays, 60 of those plays will be pass plays. Chris is athletic and he's versatile enough we'll put him in a slot and he'll fit in just fine. I like the way Chris runs, and his vision….'

'Chris and Jeff come highly recommended by [La Salle assistant coach] Kevin Loucks,' said Ferris. 'Kevin was a former d-line coach for me. He says they both have excellent speed and motivation. They were both standouts in a very competitive league, and that speaks highly for them.'

Nagel (5-10, 195), the starting running back for the Falcons for the past two seasons, was the Capital Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2007. During his junior and senior years he rushed for 3,536 yards and 33 touchdowns, averaging seven yards a carry. Last fall, Nagel also hauled in 28 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns, as the Falcons claimed their first conference title since 1995.

At 6-3, 215, Sawyer was a first-team all-conference defensive lineman for the Falcons.

Nagel, who also considered Western Oregon and Carroll College, said of his decision to play for Western Montana:

'I like the environment. It's in a little town (Dillon, Montana) surrounded by a lot of mountains and a lot of wilderness, a lot of hunting and fishing. And the school itself is a pretty good school.'

Nagel said he is considering studying English or education.

Sawyer plans a business-management major, while pursuing a career as a realtor.

'Once I got the scholarship and I learned Chris got the scholarship I was pretty excited,' said Sawyer. 'Me and Chris have been playing football together since eighth grade, so for us to go off together is pretty cool.'