(Editor’s note: MTN Sports began recognizing some of the best football players in Montana history on July 2 with the launch of the #MTTop40. The series started with defensive backs and will run eight weeks, featuring one position each week, concluding with quarterbacks the week of Aug. 20-24 to coincide with Montana’s high school football season opener. We’ve wrapped up the defense, also profiling the defensive linemen and linebackers, and started the offense with the offensive linemen. We featured tight ends last week and focus this week on wide receivers.)
Wide receivers: No. 5 – Gabe Sulser, Billings Senior.
No. 4 wide receiver – Mark Gallik, Stevensville
After a prep career that included all-state and conference player of the year honors at running back, Mark Gallik would change positions and become the best receiver in Carroll College history.
Mark Gallik stat sheet
Gallik was a multi-sport standout at Stevensville, garnering all-state accolades on the basketball court and helping the Yellowjackets to Class A state championship appearances in 1999 and 2000 (the team would also play in the 2001 title game), falling to Dillon and Colstrip, respectively. Gallik averaged 10 points per game in 1999, boosting Stevensville to a 22-2 record and the program’s first Western A title since 1977.
But it was football where Gallik was most successful, a first-team all-state running back and Western A offensive player of the year as a senior. He also captured second-team all-state honors at defensive back and was recruited by both Montana and Montana State, according to a 2007 Bozeman Daily Chronicle article. Coaching turnover with the Bobcats and Grizzlies helped land Gallik at Carroll College, where he would become the best receiver in program history.
He started eight games as a freshman, catching 12 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns, then added 372 receiving yards and another score in 2001. Gallik and tight end Casey Fitzsimmons benefitted from former Carroll quarterback Tyler Emmert in the 2002 season, with the receiver hauling in 84 receptions for 1,271 yards and 14 touchdowns. Carroll won its first NAIA national championship and Gallik was named first-team all-Frontier Conference and first-team all-American in the process. He repeated those accolades as a senior, setting numerous records in 2003. Gallik caught 109 passes for 1,966 yards, a Carroll program record, and notched the Fighting Saints’ single-season reception touchdown mark with 19. He scored nine touchdowns in four playoff games, including three in Carroll’s 41-28 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State in the NAIA national championship game, the Saints’ second title in as many years.
Gallik capped his Carroll career with 3,846 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns, each program records. He also holds the Saints’ record with 250 receiving yards in a single game – the 2003 championship.
Following his playing days, Gallik coached the Carroll College receivers for one year (2004) and was inducted into the Saints Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. His 2002 and 2003 football teams were also enshrined in Carroll’s hall of fame.
… on Gallik
Carroll College football coach Mike Van Diest: “It was amazing when we went down to recruit him. He was an all-state running back at Stevensville. Much like Justin Thomas, who was an all-state running back at Helena Capital, move them to wide receiver and get the ball to their hands and let them be a running back out there in space. We went down there on a visit with Mark, and George Wasser was his coach, and George Wasser is one of my favorite people because I got a chance to coach (former Stevensville linebacker) Joe Cummings down in Wyoming. Here’s Mark in a shirt and tie. I don’t think Stevi had a dress code at that time where he had to wear it, but he knew that I was coming down to visit with him. I was just so impressed with him at that time.
“Mark, his parents were teachers, very good student, we had a couple tapes that I had taped of LSU in a bowl game, and their receivers ran such precise routes. I was so impressed with that as a head coach and a defensive coach, that I gave that to (offensive coordinator Nick Howlett), and Mark would study that day after day, week after week. How to run routes, it wasn’t just being fast and going down and taking a left turn, it was about the steps, which foot was forward, being on time when the ball was thrown and you’re already in to your break. Mark was a real student of the game. To have a quarterback like Tyler (Emmert) here, what a great complement, those two, for each other.
“What he did with the ball and what he did after the catch, plus the acrobatic catches he had, you know, he was on the ESPN Top 10 after the national championship game his junior year. He was tremendous. He was just tremendous. I think he could have played in the CFL or somewhere if he wouldn’t have had a knee injury after his senior year.”
Carroll College offensive coordinator Nick Howlett: “He’s the best receiver that’s ever played here.
“Kind of under-recruited, I think, but probably the best route-runner we’ve ever had. In terms of the different things that he could do, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. We put him in the backfield, we lined him out wide, we lined him up in the slot. As he became more and more known and feared, we had to move him around. In one of the national championship games, I think he caught four passes out of the backfield, just trying to get a mismatch. It’s hard to double-team a guy out of the backfield. He was another one that had an unbelievable work ethic. I think Josh Reed was the guy at LSU at the time and I had recorded one of their bowl games, I think it was against Syracuse, because he had 14 catches that day. Mark and I sat down and watched how he stemmed routes and leaned on guys and Mark would study that tape. He would study his craft.
“Whether it was a Tyler (Emmert), a Casey (Fitzsimmons) or a Gallik, that’s what separated those guys, their work ethic and wanting to be great at everything. Casey never wanted to come off the field. Obviously the quarterbacks don’t come off the field much. Gallik, the only time I got my butt chewed was from Tyler Emmert about Gallik, leaving him on kickoff return. Tyler said, ‘We have a lot of people who can run fast, get Gallik out of there,’ and he was probably right.”