HELENA — Carroll College's football program is gearing up to take on Montana Western on Saturday. Western was the coaches polls’ number one pick to win the Frontier Conference Championship. Carroll came in a close second with three first place votes (37 points) , whereas Western took home four first place votes (43 points).
“It just shows that the conference recognizes the kind of talent we got coming back, but it really doesn't matter. You know, there's teams that get picked, you know, last, and end up winning the conference. And just get better each day. You know, a lot of it's based on last year's team. Well, there can be a lot of transfers that come in that are pretty good ballplayers and so yeah, so it's a nice feather in the cap, but it's nothing we ever talk about,” Troy Purcell, Carroll head coach said.
Saturday’s match up will be the first time since 2016 that Carroll was able to start their season at home. The last time they opened at home, they took on Montana Tech, winning 27-24.
“It's just excitement you know? This is why you come to practice, why you do winter ball. For moments like these with the guys. Super excited. It's the first time since I've been here at Carroll that we've had our first game be at home so I'm excited to see the Carroll faithful out there fill Nelson Stadium. But it’s just anxiety and just a lot of excitement too,” Rex Irby, senior defensive back said.
Last time the Fighting Saints took on the Bulldogs they lost 22-26. But Saturday, the Carroll College squad knows exactly what they have to do.
“Oh, just staying locked in for four quarters. Last year, I think we lost all our games, by, I think, a combined total 13 points. And you can go back and pinpoint those plays,” Irby said.
Purcell is confident that he has his team ready to take on the veteran Western team. Western quarterback John Jund has now been with the program six years after being redshirted and taking his COVID year.
“They're gonna be right on track. We'll know what they do. They got a new defensive coordinator there in Martello and he played there so I'm assuming he'll do a lot of the stuff that he liked, with their three stack and their their baseboard out front and running the coverage that they run so, we got to wait and see a little bit on Saturday and we got to just be able to coach on the run,” the head coach said.
And for Purcell, the season opener couldn’t have been written any better.
“The mustache game has been tradition around here and so gosh, what two great opponents going against each other. It’ll be a clean game and a hard fought game and they're very very well coached and it's just an exciting time; this is a fun time to be involved with Caroll football and you get a home game here at Nelson Stadium, which is an amazing place to play. And you got Western, the number one team ranked in the Frontier Conference. Can't write it any better.”
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.