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Chris Stutzriem: "Want to play 11, then go to the national championship"

Chris Stutzriem introduced as 18th head football coach at Rocky Mountain College
Posted at 9:04 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 11:55:39-04

BILLINGS -- The NAIA is allowing football teams to play nine regular-season games this fall, but Frontier Conference presidents have voted on a limit of eight, the league announced on Monday.

Rocky Mountain College head coach Chris Stutzriem isn't alone in wanting to play all nine, or even 11 as originally scheduled before the pandemic. But he'll play the hand he's dealt with this message to his players.

"The eight games, we'll go out there just like we always do. I told them if they want to play 11 (games), then get to the national championship," Stutzriem told MTN Sports Monday afternoon while visiting on Herb Klindt Field.

Conference officials rallied over the weekend to discuss their next moves, particularly in football and volleyball. Bottom line, all football teams in the league are playing an eight-game conference schedule with a bye week halfway through. That's presuming COVID-19 cases don't drastically rise.

"It’s nothing new for a coaching staff, whether you’re here or across the country, to worry about health and injuries, or Staff (infections), Mono, the flu going around," Stutzriem said. "All those different things, being in a locker room with 115 other guys, we always worry about this, and how to prepare for it and do different things."

NAIA football teams are less than a month from reporting to organized camps, meaning all workouts at this point are voluntary.

"July 5th, we'll have guys report, as long as everything keeps going according to plan," Stutzriem said. "Obviously, we know that can change at any point in time. Right now we have about 35 guys here and then in July we expect about 70 to 75."

While nobody knows what's in store, Stutzriem was asked about the possibility of still playing games in the event students are forced to resume classes online only.

"I think if they go fully online, I don’t think we’ll have a season. I don’t know how you go about those and things like that, and I also don’t know how you tackle somebody with a six-foot distance," he said. "But we still have a long time to go. A lot can happen in a month and the things that have been going on in the nation the last couple weeks, people have been around each other.

"Hopefully the death rates keep going down. But I don’t know, from Dr. (Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) to anybody, if they know what’s really going on, and that’s the scary thing. When you have other things that are measurable, you can kind of tell where we're at, but I don’t know if anybody really knows."

Frontier Conference volleyball teams will be granted 20 dates, with the possibility of 22 due to NAIA flexibility, according to the league.

Rocky Mountain College 2020 football schedule

Sept. 12: at Montana Western

Sept. 19: at Southern Oregon

Sept. 26: vs. College of Idaho

Oct. 3: vs. Eastern Oregon

Oct. 10: Open

Oct. 17: at Carroll College

Oct. 24: vs. Montana Tech

Oct. 31: at MSU-Northern

Nov. 7: vs. Montana Western

Nov. 14: Open

Nov. 21: NAIA playoffs

Nov. 28: NAIA playoffs

Dec. 5: NAIA playoffs

Dec. 19: NAIA national championship