Carroll College [1]

Saints Football Begins Fall Practice

Contributed by admin on Aug 20, 2015 - 10:57 PM

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Prospectus [3] l Roster [4] l Schedule [5]

HELENA, Mont. – 
The wait is finally over. After months of offseason workouts, weightlifting, conditioning and watching film, the Carroll College football team finally took the practice field Thursday in preparation for the Sept. 5 season opening matchup with defending national champion Southern Oregon.
The Saints edged out Southern Oregon in the Frontier Coaches' Poll but SOU held on to the top spot in the NAIA Top 25 Rankings. The Saints came in at No. 4.
Joining the veteran squad with 12 returning starters (six on offense, six on defense) is the largest recruiting class in school history, 47 freshmen. Veteran head coach Mike Van Diest [6] is confident that the veterans on the team will put the young players in a position to succeed.
"Our juniors and seniors do a great job of leading by example and showing the younger guys what we expect here," Van Diest said. "They need to sprint to the football and run from one drill to the next. When they come off the field and go to the meeting room they need to stay alert and when they are off the field, in the dining hall and dorms they need to act in a respectful manner. If guys like James Dowgin [7]Greg Tucker [8]Mac Roche [9] or Ryan Armstrong [10] need to step and say something they will but I don't anticipate that have to get on their teammates too much."
The Saints also have four new coaches on staff, two were athletes on last year's squad. Former Center Alex Kastens [11] will work with the offensive line and tight ends and former wide receiver Anthony Clarke [12] will work with the offense.
Also joining the staff are Marcus Mayo [13], a University of Montana graduate and Travis Andrus [14], a former Griz receiver who has worked in the Canadian Football League and the defunct United Football League.
"The core of coaches on both sides, offense and defense, are coming back," Van Diest said. "Nick Howlett [15] and Jim Hogan [16] Tyler Emmert [17] on offense; myself, Joe Dunning [18] Mason Siddick [19] on defense.  The addition of these four guys makes a big difference in terms just another set of eyes at each position."
Preparation for the start of the season began just weeks after the NAIA Quarterfinal loss to SOU. Early morning winter condition, spring practice and summer workouts and film sessions all play a part in the work leading up Thursday's first practice. Players are expected to come into practice with a high level of conditioning, the real effort is getting players up to game speed.
"Our coaches worked 10 or 12 hours a day in the summer because there are 65 to 70 players here at one time," Van DIest said. "They come in at pretty good shape now they need to get into game shape, the speed of the game the tempo of the game, at practice we have to be able to simulate some of that."
The Carroll offense has a strong core of returning players led by Roche at the quarterback position. The senior signal caller was second-team all Frontier Conference in 2014. He returns two solid targets in senior receiver Dylan Simac [20] and junior Kyle Griffith [21].
Three starting offensive linemen return to anchor the o-line, seniorsRyan Armstrong [22] and Josh James [23] as well as sophomore Chris Emter [24].
The Saints need to fill the rather large shoes of Carroll all-time leading rusher Dustin Rinker [25] who finished his career in the NAIA top ten all-time rushers. Dylan Green [26] and Ryan Walsh [27] received the bulk of the work during spring drills but incoming freshmen Connor Poulson [28] and Major Ali [29] could battle for carries.
At the receiver position, redshirt freshman Troy Arnston had an impressive spring and should challenge for reps. Incoming freshman Connor Fohn brings in a lot of athleticism and will look to contribute right away.
On the offensive line, the Saints need to replace Kastens, a team captain and all-conference center. Starting right tackle Dominic Salle [30]also graduated. Several upperclassmen will compete for the open spots, including seniors Andrew and Michael Blum [31] and juniors Tyson Budler [32] and Grady Holt-Seavy [33].
Eric Dawson [34] moved to the tight end position from linebacker and will look to contribute right away. Van Diest said repeatedly that Dawson has some of the best hands on the team.
Defensively, the Saints return four starters in the secondary including Second-Team All-American James Dowgin [35] at Safety. Adam Debruycker makes the move to outside linebacker but senior Greg Tucker [36] will move into his open starting spot. Second-Team All-Conference cornerbacks Matt Wymore [37] and Ryan Gregory [38] both return with the top three back-ups, senior Robbie Sharps and juniors Vince DiGiallonardo [39] and Taylor South [40].
First-Team All-Conference Linebacker Shayne Durbin [41] anchors the linebacker corps that needs to replace the production of 2013 NAIA Player of the Year Sean Blomquist [42]. DeBruycker and Dawson Osborn [43]will look to start in the outside linebacker position, which should be a strength of the defense.
A lone question mark comes in the defensive line where the Saints need to replace the entire front. Seniors Kyle Smith [44] and Gus Somerfield juniors Zeke Koslosky [45], Alec Basterrchea and Elliot McGill will battle for playing time. Sophomore Beaugh Meyer [46] is back after sitting out last season with an injury, he played significant minutes as a freshman.  
Freshman T.J. Togiai [47] brings a lot of athletic ability at the defensive tackle position and should compete for time right away.
Second-team All-American punter Rhys Felton [48] graduated but sophomore Dylan Torgerson [49] had an outstanding spring is on track to take over.
"Every year we sit here and worry about who's going to take the place of a Tyler Emmert [50] or Gary Cooper or Jeff Shirley and now Sean Blomquist [51]Dakota Amy [52] and Anthony Clarke [53] but somebody always steps up," Van DIest said. "There is always somebody waiting in the wings because the coaches have done a great job recruiting the key for us."
The Saints have a little over three weeks to prepare for Southern Oregon. Season Tickets and individual game tickets are available by visiting the PE Center or by calling 447-4480.

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