HELENA – Nearly six-and-a-half years have passed since Carroll College last added an NAIA national championship banner to the north wall of the Nelson Stadium bleachers.
Mike Van Diest and the Fighting Saints have six such titles on their resume and are hard at work toward number seven this spring. The 2017 spring football season officially gets the fans involved on Saturday afternoon when the Saints hold their first scrimmage.
“We want to try and get 75-85 plays in, get everyone a turn on the field,” said Van Diest. “There are still a few people we’re looking at, maybe some position changes that we want to address as we go into the final week of spring football.”
Fans will have the opportunity to watch their favorite players – the likes quarterback Tanner Gustavsen or receiver Connor Fohn on the offense, defensive lineman Beaugh Meyer or defensive back Tucker Johnson on the defense – as Van Diest and the staff puts the team in situations they may find themselves in this fall.
“It’s a great time for us to do some different things,” he said. “We’re going to do a four-minute offense and a four-minute defense, we’ll break down into different segments. We want to see when we have the lead, can we hold the ball and get a first down? At the same time, when we’re down can we stop them and get the ball back for our offense? We won’t do too many special teams, we’ll do point-after-touchdown and field goals, we’ll do that and punt like we always do, but it will be the line of scrimmage – we want to see the offensive line and defensive line get after each other.”
The Fighting Saints have a pre-scrimmage practice scheduled for 1 p.m. at Nelson Stadium, with the scrimmage kicking off around 45 minutes later.