HAVRE — After just a 1-10 campaign in his first season, Montana State-Northern head football coach Andrew Rolin already sees things looking up for the Lights ahead of the 2019 season. Start with his returning players, who’ve made big strides.
"I keep saying we’re one year older, and we’re starting to practice that way," Rolin said. "We’re practicing a little bit more mature and learning how to practice and the tempo you need to practice with, and we’re executing on top of it, too, which is fun to see."
One major factor for Rolin’s second year will be roster depth, something MSUN lacked in 2018. With a full recruiting class for 2019, there’s more competition for starting spots. Rolin says the new recruits are picking up his system quickly.
"We’re going to have some depth at some certain positions, and it’s starting to show out here," Rolin said. "It’s exciting to see guys step up — young guys — step up in those backup roles or even pushing the guys that are starting now. I think we’re going to have a lot more depth than we had last year."
And the players who started with Rolin are definitely noticing the difference a year can make. Take sophomore wide receiver Keagan Stroop, who’s noticed improvement in the guys he goes up against every day in practice.
"There is definitely a different atmosphere around here. There’s a lot more energy, everyone’s a lot more excited. I feel like this year we have a lot of potential to make some noise in this conference," Stroop said. "We’ve got a lot of talent at a lot of positions. Our DBs are really good. Our whole defense, we returned a lot of guys, so I think we’re only going to go up from here."
The Lights open the season on Aug. 31 in Phoenix against Arizona Christian University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.