HELENA — Southern Oregon University has traditionally fielded a successful football program.
It won a National Championship in 2014.
But lately, the Raiders have been far from that winning program.
Southern Oregon has lost its first four games, a streak that hasn’t happened in more than 12 years.
So what does Carroll College think as they head out on the longest road trip of the season?
“It’s a business trip,” Saints coach Troy Purcell said. “We want to go own there and put on a good performance. Southern Oregon is a very talented football team.”
The Raiders haven’t gotten a win this season, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t played some close games.
Aside from a 58-point shellacking from NCAA FCS Sacramento State, Southern Oregon has lost their last three games by a combined nine points.
“They lost a couple of close ones but other than that, they are very good,” Purcell said.
The Raiders currently hover near the bottom of the Frontier Conference in scoring offense (fifth), total offense (seventh) and last in rushing offense.
One of the major problems they currently face is that junior quarterback Wyatt Hutchinson was carted off the field last Saturday in Butte.
406mtsports.com reported that Southern Oregon coach Charlie Hall said it was precautionary and Hutchinson was begging the trainers to walk off the field.
“I really commend him for being the tough kid that he is, and we hope things are going to be okay,” Hall said.
If backup quarterback, redshirt sophomore Chase Knutz, has to go in, his experience is limited. He only played in two games last season before making a brief appearance on Sunday.
The Saints don’t have to worry about their quarterback, however, as Devan Bridgewater has emerged as a leader both on the field and in the locker room.
And as his wide receiver Shane Sipes puts it, Bridgewater’s leadership has been there since day one.
“The biggest thing with him is his confidence, and he is getting more each week,” Sipes said. “He follows the game plan and it’s really shown.”
Even though Southern Oregon is struggling this season, historically, Carroll hasn’t had the best results when stepping into Raider Stadium.
Carroll lost its 2017 game in Ashland 35-14 and hasn’t won there during its history.
Of course, things can always change.
“It is what it is, and like (the last two weeks), we just have to see how we respond,” Purcell said. “We got a win again, but it’s going to be a long road trip. We just need to focus and put our best foot forward.”
At least they have a long 17-hour bus ride to think about it.
“The whole atmosphere on the team is that we have a lot more to prove,” Sipes said. “Every week we have to practice hard, prepare well and give it our best shot. Hopefully it turns out well for us.”