CARROLL COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION PRESS RELEASE
HELENA, Mont. – Carroll College football opens spring practice Tuesday afternoon after a delayed start because of snow on the field. The Saints will operate on a condensed schedule with a scrimmage and kid’s clinic for grades K-5 on April 14 and the spring game slated for April 21.
The Saints take the field after a winter conditioning program that for the first time in nearly two decades that was not overseen by Jim Hogan. Under defensive line coach Alex Kastens and tight ends coach Alex Pfannenstiel, the program has taken a different approach.
“We are going to be out there doing as much as we can under the circumstances,” head coach Mike Van Diest said. “The weather hasn’t cooperated so far this spring, but we are ready to get out there and compete. I think the weight program under Alex Kastens took a new attitude up there in the weight room and still got maximum strength and improve our ability and competitiveness. Now it is about how is that going translate that over to the football field.”
The Saints take the field with a few question marks. While most of the specialists on the offensive side of the ball return, the offensive line will be almost entirely new faces, including a pair of guys that are moving in from the tight end position in Connor McGree and Alex Hoffman.
“Connor McGree moving from tight end to Center is going to be a big plus for us,” Van Diest said. “He has the kind of leadership that we are looking for there. What we are looking for is leadership and stability. We do have some young guys like Tanner Steele, who played as a true freshman, Anthony Reisch and Dustin McLean with size and athleticism but no game experience. That is why spring football is so important.”
The only returning starter on the line is Willie Clements who Van Diest is looking to step up in a big way.
“It is Willie’s time to take control,” Van Diest said. “He has started for three years, but this is the first time he will be playing without Joel Kramer and Chris Emter, a First-Team All-American. He needs to step up and lead, not just by example, but vocally. He has done that in the offseason, but now it is time to do that on the field. He has to be the guy. He has to be a dominating player at his position. That is our expectations.”
At the quarterback position, the Saints return Reese Hiibel who started much of the season, but the Carroll brought in Robert Kvinsland, a transfer from Idaho State.
“We wanted to shore up that position,” Van Diest said. “Along with Reese, we had Kolby Killoy in the same year as Reese, but we needed somebody with game experience. We wanted to add an upperclassman to create some competition and leadership.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints lost one big time playmaker in each position group. Tucker Johnson was a second-team All-American as a safety, David Anderson was an All-Conference performer at the linebacker position and Alec Basterrechia was a leader on the defensive line.
“Those are three big-time players that we lost across our defense that we are going to need guys to step up and fill their shoes,” Van Diest said.
In the secondary, the Saints bring back depth and game experience, but again with a position leader gone in Johnson, Van Diest will look up to the upperclassman to make big improvements.
“We have a lot of depth in the secondary with Drew Melton, McBride Galt, Isazah King, Ryan Beaulieu, Tony Madsen and Brian FauntLeRoy,” Van Diest said. “It will come down to leadership. McBride needs to step up to fill the shoes of Tucker. He was good last year, we need him to be great.”
The same goes at the linebacker position where Anderson’s departure means that the rest of the linebacking corps that will need to take the reins.
“We don’t have a ton of linebackers with playing experience so we need our leaders to step up,” Van Diest said. “We need emotional leaders on the defense we need to have those leaders in practice. We will need Reece Quade to be a vocal leader. Our middle linebacker has been so important for our defense. We need him to step up and have that ornery mentality that this defense is going to follow me.”
At the defensive line, the depth is again impressive, including Beaugh Meyer who will return for a sixth year but will not participate in spring practice. The lineup also includes Payton Sexe, David Peterson and Cole Greff.
“Payton is one of the most technically sound players that we have and he can be an emotional leader,” Van Diest said. “Cole Greff, like Willie and McBride, was good last year but can be great this season if he just lets loose and lets himself play. David Peterson had a great redshirt freshman season and is going to be very big for us this year.”
Practice will begin Tuesday at 12 p.m. and continue Thursday. Beginning next week the Saints will practice three times a week, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
Tuesday – 3/27 – 12 p.m.
Thursday – 3/29 – 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday – 4/3 – 12 p.m.
Friday – 4/6 – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – 4/7 – 1 p.m.
Tuesday – 4/10 – 12 p.m.
Friday – 4/13 – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – 4/14 – Free Kids Clinic K-5 12 p.m. Scrimmage to follow at 1 p.m.
Tuesday – 4/17 – 12 p.m.
Friday – 4/20 – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – 4/21 – Scrimmage 1 p.m.