HELENA — The Carroll College football team is trying to fight its way back to the national championship level it became known for. This Saturday could help play a big part in that, but it will be a tough challenge as the Saints welcome in the sixth-ranked Division III team in the nation, Linfield.
With four national championships, 62 consecutive winning seasons and 41 conference titles, the Wildcats are a different animal than what the Saints will face in the Frontier Conference.
“We’ve got to play good defense, we’ve got to stop their running game,” said Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest. “They have a 1,000-yard rusher. He’s very, very good, he’s a transfer from (Southern Oregon), and he’s a big-time player. Offensively, we got to be able to sustain drives. Last week we had a good drive for a touchdown and we had one at the end of the game where we had the interception in the end zone. That was the majority of our first downs and our yardage. We had to be able to put together drives throughout the course of the game and get field position back.”
“Defensively they are a run-heavy team, first of all,” said senior linebacker Reece Quade. “Their passing game is pretty solid, they have a returning quarterback, and they have quite a few returning starters on offense. And I think stopping the run first and working on the pass game is going to be essential this week.”
“This is going to be the best offense we’ve seen up to this point, rushing and throwing the football,” said Van Diest.
Saturday will be an uphill climb, for sure, but the players are feeling different about this game with the opportunity to make some waves nationally.
“We’ve been going hard. The energy and tempo is up a lot, and I’ve just noticed that the guys who are out here are wanting to win,” said Quade. “We have that drive to come out here, and we have the drive to work harder where we want to be.”
Quarterback Kolby Killoy, who got the start last week in Carroll’s loss to Western, will now be leading the Saints.
“I think Kolby is going to be the guy who is going to go right now,” said Van Diest. “He’s got a little bit of the momentum going from that game. I think he’s got a little bit more knowledge of the offense. Plus, he’s got the chance to work with the No. 1 receivers, No. 1 offensive line and running backs the course of this whole week and help him a lot.”