(Stats Perform) – The individual accolades continued to roll in for Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere and Montana linebacker Jace Lewis on Friday.
The two fifth-year senior standouts would gladly take team success instead.
Barriere and Lewis led the way on the Big Sky preseason all-conference team, voted as the offensive and defensive MVPs, respectively, during the second of the two-day virtual kickoff event.
Weber State, picked first in the Big Sky’s two preseason polls on Thursday, had the most preseason selections with eight, while Montana and Sacramento State tied for second with six each. Weber State and Sac State were conference co-champs last season.
A year after leading Eastern Washington to the FCS championship game, Barriere ranked second in the FCS with 355.8 yards of total offense per game last season, and he was third in passing yards per game (309.3). The 6-foot, 200-pound California native accounted for 39 touchdowns and ended the season with 239 straight passes without an interception.
“Eric is such a special football talent and is also incredible off of the field,” EWU coach Aaron Best said. “The four years of Eric’s journey and his commitment to be the best have put him in this position. His exclamation point will be his senior year, and we are all certainly tuned in and ready to watch Eric after another year of preparation.”
Lewis had a breakout season as a junior while Montana went 10-5 and reached the national quarterfinals. He totaled 131 tackles alongside former Montana linebacker Dante Olson, who received the Stats Perform Buck Buchanan Award as the national defensive player of the year. The 6-1, 230-pound Montana native was third in the Big Sky in solo tackles (65) and eighth in tackles for loss (12).
“Jace has done a nice job, first of all, working his way into the lineup, and now working his way into being a marquee player on our team,” UM coach Bobby Hauckl said. “He’s got great playmaking ability. Those guys in front of him are getting better and better, and I think that will help him continue his path to being a major playmaker for the Montana Grizzlies,”
Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Teams
Offensive MVP: Eric Barriere, QB, Eastern Washington
Defensive MVP: Jace Lewis, LB, Montana
QB – Eric Barriere, Eastern Washington
WR – Samuel Akem, Montana
WR – Samori Toure, Montana
WR – Pierre Williams, Sacramento State
OL – Conlan Beaver, Montana
OL – Ben Bos, Weber State
OL – Lewis Kidd, Montana State*
OL – Tristen Taylor, Eastern Washington
OL – Taylor Tuiasosopo, Montana State
OL – Ty Whitworth, Weber State*
TE – Marshel Martin, Sacramento State
RB – Josh Davis, Weber State
RB – Elijah Dotson, Sacramento State
FB – Clay Moss, Weber State
AP – B.J. Perkinson, Sacramento State
PK – Luis Aguilar, Northern Arizona
PR – Rashid Shaheed, Weber State
KR – Malik Flowers, Montana
DT – Bryce Rodgers, UC Davis
DT – Jared Scheiss, Weber State
DE – Josiah Erickson, Sacramento State
DE – George Tarlas, Weber State
OLB – Nick Eaton, UC Davis
OLB – Christian Ellis, Idaho
ILB – Jace Lewis, Montana
ILB – Tre Walker, Idaho
DB – Anthony Adams, Portland State*
DB – Daron Bland, Sacramento State
DB – Robby Hauck, Montana
DB – Eddie Heckard, Weber State
DB – Devon King, UC Davis
P – D.J. Arnson, Northern Arizona
ST – Emmanuel Daigbe, Portland State
*-denotes unanimous selection