BOZEMAN -- On a day geared towards preparing for the 2011 Montana State football season, Cody Kirk was equally at ease breaking tackles and looking back.
"It's always great to have the team win," Kirk said after helping lead the Blue team to a 26-0 win over the Gold in the Sonny Holland Classic Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. "It's even better to get this ring."
Kirk was donning one of the 2010 Big Sky Conference championship rings doled out to the team following the scrimmage.
If Kirk was a big part of MSU's championship season last fall, earning mention as the team's top special teams player, he showed Saturday he is preparing to step into a role as a scrimmage player. The sophomore running back from Frenchtown gained 94 yards on 10 carries Saturday, scoring twice. He also caught a pass for 15 yards.
"I thought Cody Kirk was special," said MSU coach Rob Ash, "I really did. He saw the holes well, he ran with power, he broke tackles, made some guys miss. I think he took a real step forward today. He's quicker than he was a year ago, and that showed up today."
After the teams traded turnovers early in the scrimmage, Kirk capped a two-play drive in which he gained all eight of the Blue team's yards leading to the touchdown. On the next Blue possession, Kirk gained 34 yards on two carries and a reception, Kruiz Siewing made a spectacular one-handed catch on a 30-yarder down the visiting team's sideline, and Elvis Akpla made a fine catch on a five-yard touchdown.
If Kirk was the Blue offense's engine, Siewing provided the fuel. The junior from Saco caught three passes for 99 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown for the Blue team's third score.
Siewing caught Ash's eye. "Kruiz Siewing always seems to make plays," Ash said. "You think of him as the second tier (of receivers) behind Elvis and Everett, but if you think about last spring and some games he played last year he always seems to come up with big plays."
The Gold team's offense moved the ball at times, but Ash credited the Blue defense for keeping them out of the end zone. "I thought the Blue defense really was strong. Clay Bignell did a nice job keeping that defensive unit focused, and they played well."
While the Sonny Holland Classic is just one of 15 spring practices for the Bobcats, Ash said video of the afternoon's proceedings will be scoured by MSU coaches.
"I think this is a pretty important evaluation," Ash said, "maybe not for the headliners that everyone's going to think about but for the twos and threes, guys battling for a roster spot and battling for travel team responsibilities. We know Cody Kirk can play, we know Clay Bignell, but we're going to look beneath the surface in depth at this game to try to figure out the rest of the roster."
Ash said the team's ring and awards ceremonies capped the spring perfectly. "I thought it was great to do it this way. I wanted our fans and parents and everyone to see the rings and get a photo opportunity with the rings. They are so important, so special, that we wanted to have a legitimate ceremony."