HELENA — The Carroll College football team expected things were going to be a little different after Make Van Diest retired.
It was no surprise that new coach Troy Purcell brought in an almost completely new staff.
But no one saw the sudden changes in defensive leadership.
Defensive coordinator Jared Petrino announced he was leaving to take a job with his brother Jason at NCAA Division I Southern Illinois, just four months after arriving in Helena.
Purcell promoted defensive backs coach Pat Haynes to make the transition smooth, but some players were not happy.
The defense had been through three coaches in five months.
“Initially, I was very upset,” Carroll senior linebacker Dylan Kresge said. “I actually called Petrino and had a good conversation with him.”
That was back in May.
Now, Kresge lines up as a part of the Saints’ front seven, fully buying into what Haynes is teaching.
Carroll has excelled on the defensive over the last two seasons, finishing atop the Frontier Conference in points and total yards allowed.
And Haynes wants to keep those expectations high.
“We have to be sound, and I want to preach championship effort,” said Haynes, standing in the shadow of the scoreboard that lists the six national championships. “I want everybody to be working as one. If we can do that, I feel like we will be able to do some good stuff.”
That didn’t come without some challenges that Haynes also had to overcome.
Prior to his months with Carroll, Haynes was the co-defensive coordinator at NCAA Division III Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
“I had to get to know every single position,” Haynes said. “I work with the defense backs. I don’t work with the defensive line and linebackers a ton, so it’s getting to know those guys and my coaching style.”
Senior lineman Craig Kein was also a little wary of the coaching changes, but his mind was eased after the newfound energy that the team was showing.
“This defense brings a new attitude to the field,” Kein said. “There are no bad days. Every single rep is important. There is energy on every single play.”
Following in Petrino’s footsteps, Haynes is keeping the 4-3 defensive scheme that was installed in the spring, but the four seniors up front don’t mind one bit.
“We are going to come out and punch you in the mouth,” Kein said. “I love it.”
There has been nothing but changes this past offseason, but with two weeks left of fall camp, Haynes’ motto of '11 as one' is coming to fruition and the players are excited.
“I feel really good because, since Haynes has taken over,” Kresge said. “He brings in his own aspect and way of doing things and he does a great job leading this defense. We are where we need to be."