Sweet Grass County High School’s Ty Cowell and Rory Lannen have committed to play college football at Dickinson State and Montana Tech, respectively.
According to MaxPreps high school football rankings, the 6’2”, 290-pound Cowell is the #20 player in the state of Montana.
Cowell, a 1st-team all-conference offensive lineman and 2nd-team all-conference defensive lineman, joins a successful Dickinson State Blue Hawks program with 23 national playoff appearances and 30 conference championships to its name.
Last year, the Blue Hawks went 8-3 with a perfect 6-0 conference record, marking their seventh consecutive conference championship. After starting the season 0-2, the Blue Hawks rattled off eight straight wins before losing 49 to 7 in the first round of the NAIA football championship series playoffs.
Cowell, who plans to major in business administration at Dickinson State, committed last week after holding another offer from Western Montana.
“I really liked the coaches,” Cowell said. “I got along well with them and the other players.”
Cowell said the coaching staff is currently projecting him to play guard on the offensive line at Dickinson State.
Lannen, a 6’5”, 310-pound senior tackle, joins the Montana Tech Orediggers, who finished last season at 7-3 and led the Frontier Conference with 13 all-conference selections and a league-leading eight players named to the first team. Lannen picked up 1st-team all-conference honors as an offensive lineman and defensive end last season.
“I talked to a lot of different coaches,” Lannen said. “I had an offer from Dickinson and Western. Before my decision, I got a call from a coach I was talking to at Montana State. They were going to give me a preferred walk-on position, but I had already chosen Tech before that and wanted to roll with it. I liked the coaches at Tech, and the coaches at MSU were changing, so I stuck with it. There was a lot of back and forth, but I ruled out Dickinson when I found out they don’t have an engineering program.”
Lannen said the coaches and schooling at Montana Tech played a big part in his decision to commit there. “I want to be some sort of engineer, and they’re the best school in Montana and around the area for engineering. The coaches are all nice guys, and they’re fired up for any challenge that comes their way.”
At his size and weight, Lannen boasts some impressive athleticism. His Hudl account says he runs a five-second 40-yard dash, bench presses over 300 pounds, and squats nearly 600 pounds.
Cowell and Lanned paved the way for a strong Sheepherders zone rushing attack last season, together rounding out an offensive line that weighed an average of 250 pounds per player.
Cowell said SGCHs’s comeback win against Huntley this year was his favorite high school football memory, while Lannen said the Townsend game this year was his.
“Townsend was ranked #2 in the state,” Lannen recalled. “We came into the game with nothing to lose, and I had my best game overall. We came back and won with a last-second touchdown. I kicked an onside kick, and we recovered it to win the game. It was pretty memorable to beat the #2 team in the state, who thought they were going to walk all over us. That was the first time we beat them in my four years of high school football.”
Cowell said he’s most looking forward to going to college to meet new people and get a fresh start, while Lannen said he’s most looking forward to preparing for life beyond college, getting ready to be out in the real world and having his own life and family.
Cowell said what he learned from his high school career goes beyond football.
“I like to talk about what I learned beyond football — the brotherhood aspect of it and being there for each other through thick and thin. I developed a lot through football and got closer to everyone around me.”
Lannen said he learned most by putting his trust in someone padded up right next to him and having faith that they’ll do their job.
“It incorporates to life when you’re working alongside someone else, and you need them to do their job so you can do your job. Football taught me to keep going when I hit a wall and find a way to win,” he said.
Lannen said he’s not sure what position he’ll play in college, but he’ll do whatever best suits the team.
“I want to play defense because I love defense more,” he said. “On offense, you have a lot of different plays to work out, but on defense, you’re just going after the guy with the ball.”
When he’s not lifting weights, Cowell said he would spend this offseason skiing in Bridger.
“I have a season pass and go every weekend. Although there hasn’t been as much snow, I’m hoping that we get some in late January and February.”
Lannen, also an avid skier, said he started skiing at a young age in the Bridgers and took a liking to snowboarding until he grew too big.
Lannen will spend this winter playing center for the SGHS basketball team and said the season is going well so far.
“We’ve had some ups and downs in games, but we’re falling into our rhythm. We beat Columbus and Townsend. When we play as a team, we do pretty well.”