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Lights Football Coaches

Mark Samson
Mark Samson (10th Year)
Head Coach

(406) 265-3746

Mark Samson begins his 10th year as Head Coach of the Lights and 32st year of coaching High School and College football within the state of Montana. Coach Samson, a native of Helena MT, is a 1982 graduate of the University of Montana with a History/Political Science degree.

In his nine seasons at Northern, the Lights have emerged nationally as a program to be reckoned with. After an initial 2-9 campaign in 2004, Northern ran off 4 straight winning seasons hi-lighted by a first ever national playoff appearance in 2006. Along with team recognition, the Lights have had three Conference MVP’s (Kyle Samson-2006: Justin Moe-2008: Will Andrews-2011) and a large number of All-Conference and All-American selections both athletically and academically. Samson himself was awarded as Frontier Conference Coach of the Year in 2006 as well as NAIA Region 9 Coach of the Year that same year.

Mark in action
Mark Samson’s coaching career began in 1982 as an assistant at Helena High School under Mike Kramer. In 1984, Samson was hired at Broadwater Co. High School where he served as Defensive Coordinator for the Bulldogs under former Northern quarterback Chuck Harvey for four seasons. The Bulldogs were conference champs in 1985 and during his four years at Townsend, the Bulldogs were a combined 20-14.

Samson’s first head coaching job was at Missoula Loyola HS (1987-89), and after a 1-7 campaign in 1986, the Rams were 5-3 and 6-2 the following two seasons. Samson also served as Head Track Coach at Loyola for 1988-89.

In the Spring of 1990, Samson accepted an assistant position with National powerhouse Carroll College under the direction of Hall of fame Coach Bob Petrino. In his first two seasons, Samson served as wide receiver’s coach and in charge of Special Teams. In the spring of 1992, Samson was elevated to Offensive Coordinator/QB’s Coach. Carroll was Frontier Champions in 1990and 1993 and also advanced to the NAIA national playoffs in 1996. In his seven seasons at Carroll, the Saints had an overall record of 41-24.

In the Spring of 1997, Samson was hired as Head Football Coach for Helena Capital High School. For seven seasons, the Bruins were one of the best programs in the entire state and achieved state championships in 1999, 2000, and 2002. The 2002 squad was the first HS team in Montana history to achieve a record of 13-0.The Bruins also set a then state AA record of 26 straight wins. Overall, Samson’s teams were 67-12 and had 6 state playoff appearances.

Mark has been married for 31 years to Kellie (Petrino) Samson. Kellie is a first grade teacher in Havre. Mark and Kellie have three children: Kyle, who serves as Offensive Coordinator for his father, and is married to Brooke Schwann; Marc, who is a Physical Therapist here in Havre and married to Katie Polette; and Tricia, who is a Junior High teacher in Havre. The Samson’s are also proud grandparents to Troy & Jordyn(Kyle and Brooke)Kayley, Cooper and A.J (Marc and Katie).


Kyle Samson
Kyle Samson (7th year)
Assistant head Coach
Offensive Coordinator/QBs
Recruiting Coordinator

(406) 265-4184 (office)
(406) 431-3686 (cell)

Kyle is a native of Helena, MT.  He graduated from Capital High School in 2003, where he was the starting quarterback for two years earning all state honors as both a junior and senior.  Samson was a member of the 2002 State Championship team and was named the AA Offensive MVP as well as the Gatorade player of the year for the State of Montana.  After graduation, Kyle attended the University of Montana on a football scholarship.  He played quarterback for the Grizzlies as a true freshman.  Kyle then transferred to MSU-Northern in the Spring of 2004 after his dad was named the new head football coach. Kyle was Northern’s starting quarterback from 2004 -2006 as well as a three year captain.  Kyle was a three time all conference selection (2004-2006) and two time All American selection (2005, 2006).  He was also named the Frontier Conference's Most Valuable Player in 2006. 

Kyle in action

This will be Kyle’s 7th year on staff for the Lights and will be his 6th year as the offensive coordinator. Under the direction of Coach Samson the Lights offense finished 1st in the conference in 2011 in total offense and 4th in the nation, averaging 455 yds per game. Last year in 2012, the Lights offense finished 2nd in the conference and 9th in the nation in total offense averaging 448 yds a game. In 2011, Samson’s Offense set 16 school records as a unit and also broke 12 individual records. In 2012 the Lights offense broke 10 of those school records as a unit and also set 17 new individual records! Junior QB Derek Lear was named All-conference for the 2nd straight year and broke 9 individual records as well as breaking the national record for total offense in one game with 605 yds against Montana Western. Under the direction of Coach Samson Derek was also finished #3 in the nation in total offense averaging 315 yds per game. Senior RB Stephen Silva was also named all-conference for the 2nd straight year and broke 5 individual records. Senior WR Brandon O’Brien was named 1st team all-conference and broke 3 individual receiving records with the highlight being most TD receptions in a year with 12. The lights offense returns 5 starters for 2013 and looks to once again be one of the top offenses in the conference and all of the NAIA.

Kyle earned his bachelors degree in Health/Physical Education from Northern in 2007. Kyle has been married for 5 years to the former Brooke Schwan of Havre. She is a 2nd grade teacher at Lincoln Mckinley School. Kyle and Brooke have 2 children. Their son Troy Thomas turned 3 years old in April and their daughter Jordyn Whitney turned 1 years old in April.


Jake Eldrige
Jake Eldridge (6th Year)
Defensive Coordinator
Head Strength and Conditioning

Office: (406) 265-3764

This will be Jake’s sixth season on staff with the Lights as he enters his fourth season as the Defensive Coordinator. This also begins Jakes his sixth year as head of the Lights Strength and Conditioning program.

Jake in action
Jake in action Jake, a Helena native, prepped at Helena Capital High School where, under Head Coach Mark Samson, won a State Championship in 2000. Jake was a two sport standout in both track and football earning All-State and All-Conference honors throughout his career. Eldridge's athletic success earned him dual track and football scholarships to the University of Mary upon graduation. Jake transferred to MSU-Northern when Coach Samson began in 2004. Jake was a four year starter for the Lights as well as a four year captain at defensive back where he garnered many All Conference and Academic honors. A knee injury limited Jake in his senior season, but he was able to finish out his career on the offensive side of the ball as a slot receiver in 2007.
Scott Leeds
Scott Leeds
Wide Receivers (15th year)

(406) 265-3750

Scott will begin his fifteenth year as receivers coach for the Lights. During his 14 years at Northern Scott has coached 11 All-Conference players as well as coaching Andy Smith to All-American status. In the past 3 seasons, coach Leeds has had 3 consecutive All-conference receivers that have broken 6 school receiving records and have lead or been in the top 5 for statistical categories in the Frontier Conference. Lights return two starting receivers from 2012 and look to have another strong receiving core in 2013.

A native of Havre Montana, Scott attended Carroll College in Helena Montana. Coach Leeds was a member of Bob Petrino’s Saints football team from 1991 – 1994, earning a Frontier Conference championship in 1993. Scott was an All-Conference selection in 1994 leading the Frontier Conference in receiving yardage. Scott earned his degree in business finance from Carroll College in 1995. Scott and his wife Kimberly have 5 children Brittany, Kayley, Justin, Taylor and Cael. Scott is employed by Triangle Telephone.

Darold Debolt
Darold DeBolt (3rd year)
Defensive Line


Darold DeBolt is a native of Great Falls, Montana. He played football at CMR where he was a starter at Middle Linebacker his Junior and Senior years. While under the tutelage of CMR’s head coach Jack Johnson, Darold earned 1st Team All-State honors, 1st Team All-Conference, All American Honorable Mention as well as being selected to the Mon Dak All Star Game. After graduation, DeBolt went to college for 3 years on a baseball scholarship before he accepted a scholarship at Carroll College in Helena, Montana and returned to his "first love" of football. DeBolt played Middle Linebacker and Defensive End, and in 2002, was part of the first National Championship team in school history.

Upon completing his History degree at Carroll College, Darold returned to his alma mater CMR, coaching Linebackers and Defensive Line for the sophomore football team. 7 years later, Darold moved to Havre for the opportunity to coach at the college level and pursue a Secondary Education Degree in Social Sciences.

Darold enters his third season as MSU Northern’s Defensive Line Coach. He has had the privilege of coaching Defensive End Will Andrews (2011, 1st Team All-Conference honors and Defensive MVP of the Frontier Conference) and Nose Guard Mike Carbone (2012, Second Team All Conference).

In his personal life, Darold was just recently married to his high school sweetheart, Tiffany (Van Heel). In their downtime, they love traveling and spending time with their boxer, Tango.


Ron LaTray
Ron LaTray (3rd year)
Defensive Backs

Ron LaTray is a 1995 Chinook High graduate. After attending Crown College Ron moved to Whitefish where he founded the Glacier Knights Semi-Pro Football team, which competed in the Rocky Mountain Football League. While with the Knights, Ron earned an All League Honorable Mention Selection as a Free Safety. He also coached the 2005 RMFL Defensive MVP, as well as seven All League Players, and guided six players to various All Star games. In 2007 Ron took over as Head Football Coach for the Harlem Wildcats and had 31 players as 1st or 2nd Team All Conference selections, as well as Three All State selections, and Three Shrine game selections (2008 Shrine Game MVP). In 2011 Ron joined the MSU-Northern Football Coaching staff as the Tight Ends/Assistant Offensive Line Coach. In his first year out, Ron guided Brian Torgerson to a 1st Team All Conference selection as a Tight End and Assisted Head Coach Mark Samson with a 1st Team All Conference Offensive Lineman and All American selection Matt Cervenka. Ron also help guide Jorge Magana and Brock Hyder to 2nd Team All Conference Offensive Line selections. In 2012 Ron moved to Running Backs and helped Stephen Silva earn a 2nd Team All Conference selection at Running Back. Ron is again on the move but this time to the Defensive side of the ball where he will coach the Defensive Backs for the Lights in 2013.

Ron's wife Brandy is the owner of Venus Salon and Spa in Havre. The couple have two children Teigan (4) and Tavin (2) who will be cheering on the Lights from the stands all season.


Jorge Magana
Jorge Magana (2nd year)
Student Assistant
Offensive Line

Jorge begins his second year as an assistant coach with MSU-Northern after completing a stellar career as a 2-time All-Conference center for Lights in 2010-11. Jorge was a three sport athlete at Freedom High School in Oakley, CA. As a senior, Jorge earned All-Conference honors in the very tough BVAL league.

Upon completion of high school, Jorge enrolled at Los Medanos (CA) Junior College where he was a 2 year starter and also earned All-Conference. Jorge will earn his degree in Secondary Education/HPE this upcoming Spring. Jorge’s main duties for the Lights will be assisting with the Offensive Line and organizing weekly scout team practices.



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