HELENA — They say to understand a man, you ought to walk a mile in his shoes.
Carroll’s new coach has chosen instead to cobble his own shoes.
Just last December, Purcell was announced as the Saints new football coach.
He took over for NAIA Hall of Fame inductee Mike Van Diest, who retired the month earlier.
Van Diest spent the last 20 years roaming the sidelines, marching the Saints to victory and becoming a father figure for many of his players.
Oh, and he brought home six national titles.
Before Van Diest, Bobby Petrino Sr. spent 27 years at Carroll and finished with 163 wins.
“You can’t fill those two legendary coaches’ shoes, ” Purcell said at his introductory press conference. “I have to build on the success that they have had.”
There is no way Purcell should even attempt to try those shoes on. They wouldn’t be the right fit.
Purcell created a two-deep based on his own findings and put the most qualified players in the correct spots.
He didn’t even watch previous film, and said last spring that he did not want to because he didn’t want to have any preconceived notions about the players.
It looks like the shoe has started with a sturdy foundation.
With that in place, Purcell added a bit of comfort.
And the players showed that they are happy with the way he does things.
Junior quarterback Kolby Killoy said last month that the up-tempo practices helped keep the players on their toes.
“I like the quicker tempo,” Killoy said. “It helps you moving, keep you active…With extended down time, you can get distracted.”
With a solid sole and some comfort in place, the only thing left is testing their durability. Van Diest’s shoes lasted 20 years.
Purcell said this is a job he has always wanted. He is a graduate from Helena Capital, he played for Carroll and you can see the enjoyment on his face when he running around in practice.
So how durable the shoes he makes will be up to him. The longer he stays, the better the team will perform and the number of championship opportunities will grow.
Until then, let’s just see how he does walking in his first season.
Here is my game-by-game prediction of how the season will go:
Week 1: at Montana Western, Sept. 6
It might take a week to get the players comfortable with a new system during the first Frontier Conference game of the year.
Prediction: Loss (0-1, 0-1 Frontier)
Week 2: vs. Rocky Mountain, Sept. 14
Troy Purcell’s first game at Nelson Stadium. The players will rally and claim the upset.
Prediction: Win (1-1, 1-1 Frontier)
Week 3: vs. Montana State-Northern, Sept. 21
The Lights got a win already this season when they knocked off Arizona Christian in Phoenix but don’t expect them to be a big threat in the Frontier Conference.
Prediction: Win (2-1, 2-1 Frontier)
Week 4: at Southern Oregon, Sept. 28
Carroll is going to be exhausted after a long bus ride, and the Raiders won’t waste an opportunity for a win at home.
Prediction: Loss (2-2, 2-2 Frontier)
Week 5: BYE, Oct. 5
Week 6: vs. College of Idaho, Oct. 12
Yotes’ quarterback Darius-James Peterson is going to win Offensive Player of the Year. He will show why with a monster day.
Prediction: Loss (2-3, 2-3 Frontier)
Week 7: vs. Montana Western, Oct. 19
Every team always finishes a season with one game that haunts them. This one could be it.
Prediction: Loss (2-4, 2-4 Frontier)
Week 8: at Rocky Mountain, Oct. 26
Rocky will be looking for redemption after a Week 2 loss. There is no way the Battlin’ Bears are going let this game get away from them.
Prediction: Loss (2-5, 2-5 Frontier)
Week 9: at Montana State-Northern, Nov. 2
Troy Purcell will step back onto the same field where he won a high school State Championship. The memories will flow back and the Saints will prevail in convincing fashion.
Prediction: Win (3-5, 3-5 Frontier)
Week 10: vs. Montana Tech, Nov. 9
Apparently this is Carroll’s rivalry game and senior day, all rolled into one. The game will be close and probably the most competitive of the season. The Saints edge out the Orediggers in this one.
Prediction: Win (4-5, 4-5 Frontier)
Week 11: at Eastern Oregon, Nov. 16
The Saints will have another long bus ride and, with it being the Mountaineers’ last home game, it might be a struggle.
Prediction: Loss (4-6, 4-6 Frontier)