BILLINGS — Everywhere he looks, Chris Stutzriem sees progress.
A tight spiraling pass. A crisp route run by a receiver. Correct reads by the linebackers and secondary. Proper technique by the offensive and defensive linemen.
Like the constant presence of the cameras, Stutzriem sees all.
“We’re just trying to get better,” said the new Rocky Mountain College football coach. “I think the energy and excitement for our first practices have been really good. Guys are taking to the new coaches and adjustments very well.”
The Battlin’ Bears reached the midway point for spring practices on Thursday with their seventh at Herb Klindt Field.
Rocky is in the process of having 15 practices, culminating with the spring game on Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m.
Stutzriem and his staff have broken down the sessions into four-practice segments.
“The first four practices, we put in our base stuff,” said Stutzriem of the offensive and defensive schemes. “Our next four will be situational stuff … goal line, third down, red zone … using different areas of the field.”
Quarterbacks Drew Korf and Nathan Dick continue to split the majority of repetitions, “Both are playing very well,” said Stutzriem, himself a former college quarterback.
“Along with Colton Williams and Sam Sparks at running back and Lucas Overton at receiver. John Little (6-foot, 297, sophomore) has been our most consistent offensive lineman in spring camp.”
And Stutzriem has also kept his eyes on the defense.
“I think Ryder Rice (defensive end) is doing a good job of leading by example,” the head coach said. “And Mason Price (sophomore) has stepped up quite a bit at defensive end.”
Price, of Twin Falls, Idaho, originally came to Rocky as a linebacker.
“He’s gotten bigger and stronger and he’s playing with confidence. Mason has a very bright future,” added Stutzriem.
Along with introducing new schemes and terminology, the coaching staff is balancing live tackling against the risk of injury for the second half of the scheduled practices. The Battlin’ Bears had their first tackling drills last Saturday.
“With tackling drills, you have to do it,” said Stutzriem. “You just don’t want to over-do it. You don’t want to do it all day long.”
And Stutzriem said it didn’t take long on Saturday for two players to move to the forefront of the tackling sessions.
“Jimmy Henderson and Devonte Woods, our two cornerbacks, tackled extremely well and were very physical,” Stutzriem said.
“The effort and attitude in spring camp has been great. Our biggest thing is we want consistency at all positions.”
The defending Frontier Conference champions open the 2019 season on Aug. 29 at Dickinson State.
NOTES: Spencer Chamberlain has re-joined the coaching staff as the special teams coordinator. A former Class AA all-state player for Helena High, Chamberlain was a linebacker for Carroll College. He played on the 2010 NAIA national championship team with Battlin’ Bears defensive coordinator Joe Dunning. Chamberlain was on the Rocky coaching staff for the 2017 season working with the defensive backs and safeties. He spent last year coaching running backs, fullbacks and tight ends at Los Angeles Valley College.