HELENA  The first domino in Carroll’s 2022 football recruiting class fell last week when Spencer Berger, a kicker/punter from Billings West High School, signed with the purple and gold.

“The coaches were nothing but great to me,” Berger said. “[Alex] Pfannenstiel and [Randy] Bandelow, they were so great to me over the summer. I was able to get up to Carroll a few times and visit campus. They just built a great connection, which I felt was very important. Coach [Troy] Purcell is awesome, too...Carroll is a great school. For schooling, it’s exactly what I want to do. I just feel like it was the right fit for me.”

Berger was on campus multiple times during the summer. A member of the Billings Scarlets American Legion baseball team, Berger was in town on a couple occasions and used the time to tour Carroll’s campus and kick for the coaching staff.

“I received a phone call from [Billings West head coach] Rob Stanton when he was a junior saying, ‘hey we’ve got a pretty good kicker who I think would be a great fit academically and socially at Carroll. You should take a look at him,’” Carroll recruiting coordinator Alex Pfannenstiel said. “We’ve been on Spencer for quite a while. He came out here for a visit in the summer and kicked for us, and has been to a couple of our game days. We’re pretty excited to get a young man that is a great student, great [person]. Really great kicker.”

Berger said he started kicking in eighth grade out of necessity. He had separated his shoulder during the first day of football practice that year and could not play. When his coach needed a kicker, however, Berger drew on his prior soccer experience, stepped up and excelled in practice.

His talent parlayed into him making West’s varsity football team as a freshman, and more recently, vaulted him to second team all-conference and second-team all-state honors as a junior.

“He’s just an outstanding kid coming off an outstanding program,” Carroll head coach Troy Purcell said. “You want kids that come from winning programs because they know how to win. Just really excited about the early commit by that young gentleman. Iron sharpens iron. He’ll come in and push the specialists that we have now. It’ll make them better and it’ll make him better. It’s exciting. We’re really happy to have him.”

Berger converted seven of his nine field goal opportunities during his junior season and banged home 92 percent (46-of-50) of his extra-point attempts. He also averaged 33.2 yards per punt with a long of 49 yards.

That season came about a year after Berger began receiving formal training from Dylan Torgerson. Carroll’s primary punter and kicker for a handful of seasons, Torgerson opened Torgerson Kicking and Punting in 2019 to help area specialists hone their craft.

“He was so helpful,” Berger said of Torgerson. “He has helped me get the basics of my kicking down and build up from there. Him being from Carroll, he talked nothing but great things about the program. He just really helped me over the years become a better kicker with my form and everything.”

This season, Berger is 2-of-5 on field goals and has converted 86.3 percent (19-of-22) of his extra-point attempts. He is also averaging a career-best 33.4 yards per punt and had a career-long of 51 yards earlier this season. Berger has also handled kick off duties and averages nearly 45 yards per kick with 15 touchbacks in 36 tries.

“Beyond the intangibles in terms of hard work, dedication, and being a good member of the football team, I think when you look at kickers, it is how elongated their range-of-motion is,” Pfannenstiel said in regards to how the team evaluates kickers. “The longer the motion, the more the power. Then the height they get on the ball when they kick it. Being able to drive the ball up and over the line of scrimmage and still have distance on it is a big key in terms of translating.”

With West set to face Helena Capital in the quarterfinals of the Class AA State Playoffs this Friday, Berger said his immediate goal is to help his team win a state title. In the more distant future, Berger said he plans to be pre-med at Carroll and contribute wherever he can on the football field.

Email Daniel Shepard at daniel.shepard@406mtsports.com or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.

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