HELENA — Carroll College wide receiver Shane Sipes is a long way from home.

Just over 1,200 miles if you want to get specific.

Sipes grew up just outside of Thousand Oaks, California, 44 miles northwest of Los Angeles. An hour and a half car ride, if you take Interstate 101.

Now comfortable in Montana, Sipes might have found another home.

He has lived in the end zone of Nelson Stadium and other Frontier Conference schools after leading the Saints in touchdown receptions in each of the last two seasons.

Last year, he finished with seven; the year prior, he finished with four.

But Sipes knows there is a lot more to this receiving core than just him.

“We have a lot of depth at receiver,” Sipes said. “These new freshmen that we brought in can definitely play. They are picking up the offense pretty quickly, a lot faster than I ever did, so it’ll be exciting.”

While the spotlight has shone brightly on the 6-2 junior, he hasn’t done it alone.

On the other side of the offensive line, Joe Farris sets up as a slot receiver.

Farris finished his sophomore campaign with 418 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Together, the two are inseparable. On the field, they complement each other so that Purcell can utilize each of their skill sets.

“Shane and Joe are two different types of receivers,” Purcell said. “Shane is more explosive with his speed and Joe has some shake. They are very fun to watch together.”

The two combined for 1,115 yards, nine touchdowns and 44 percent of the total catches last season.

That’s not to say they are the only two options for quarterback.

Carroll also features junior Kyle Pierce, sophomores Jordan Martin and Jaden Harrison and senior William Noce-Sheldon.

Although Pierce was the only one that finished last season with a pair of catches against Montana State-Northern and the College of Idaho, Purcell is confident in his receivers' depth.

“They are a solid group of guys,” Purcell said. “We are lucky most of them come back next year, too. It’s a chance to improve.”

With the Saints moving to a run-pass option style offense, Purcell said the threat of a deep ball or a swing pass to the outside is extremely important.

Last year, Carroll finished last in the Frontier Conference in passing yards per game and second to last in touchdown receptions.

“If (the defense) is going to load the box, you have be able to throw it,” Purcell said.

Sipes jogged off the practice field liking what he saw. He has two more years to be an impact on offense. More importantly, he is doing it with one of his best friends.

“In high school, I had a couple good wide receivers playing with me, too, but with Joe, we are always together talking football,” Sipes said. “We just want to get better.”

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Ryan Kuhn covers Carroll College athletics for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Email him at ryan.kuhn@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @rskuhn

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