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Olson finalist for top defender award

Former Cascade Christian football player Dante Olson, a linebacker at Montana, is one of three top vote-getters for the Buck Buchanan Award, which goes to the nation’s top FCS defensive player.

He will travel to Frisco, Texas, for the awards presentation on Jan. 4, the organization announced Tuesday.

The Grizzlies’ first-team all-Big Sky honoree finished the regular season as the nation’s top tackler with 151 total takedowns, averaging an FCS-best 13.7 per game in his breakout junior season.

The other two finalists are Zach Hall of Southeast Missouri, the nation’s second-leading tackler, and Sam Houston’s Derick Roberson, the nation’s leader in sacks. The winner will be announced on the eve of the FCS national championship game.

Olson’s total tackles shattered the Montana single-season record for stops, topping the previous record of 130 set by Kendrick Van Ackeren in 2015, with no playoff games to add to his total.

Olson also finished the regular season ranked second in the Big Sky in forced fumbles (three), fourth in the league in sacks (six) and eighth in tackles for loss (11).

He was chosen the Grizzlies’ team and defensive MVPs.

Montana has had 11 finalists for the Buchanan Award since 2000, including two winners: Kroy Biermann (2007) and former Eagle Point standout Tyrone Holmes (2015).