BILLINGS — With a touch of his keyboard, Chris Stutzriem can find almost all the information he needs about Rocky Mountain College football on the screen in front of his desk. 

Click and the roster flashes, broken down by position. Another click brings up the practice schedule. Video of opponents is just another click away.

But computer clicks can’t provide all the answers Stutzriem needs.

The defending Frontier Conference champions have more than a few issues surrounding them as they begin fall camp for the 2019 season.

The first-year head coach and his staff expect to have 115 players on the practice field Friday. Rocky will have 20 practices before its season opener at Dickinson State on Aug. 29 in North Dakota.

Stutzriem replaces Jason Petrino, who resigned to become the defensive coordinator for FBS Southern Illinois.

Stutzriem, who was the Battlin’ Bears offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017, inherits a program that finished 8-4 overall after winning the Frontier title and losing the first round of the NAIA playoffs to eventual national champion Morningside of Iowa.

“We always have to make sure we take care of ourselves,” said Stutzriem. “Our mantra is, ‘Be fast, be physical and have a high FBI (football intelligence).' That’s just the way we play football. It will always be our mantra.”

Rocky has pressing needs to address on both sides of the ball.

The Battlin’ Bears will have to find a starting quarterback to replace Jacob Bakken and find an entire starting linebacker corps.

Drew Korf and Nathan Dick shared reps during spring practice at quarterback. Korf, entering his third season with the team, was 34-for-80 passing for 426 yards and five touchdowns. Dick (5-9-22) suffered a season-ending foot injury against Dickinson State last season.

Stutzriem said he would select a starting quarterback after the team’s fall scrimmage.

The linebacker group took a hit when Dallas Mack suffered a season-ending knee injury during spring drills. The Huntley Project graduate was second on the team last year in total tackles.

“It’s a tough deal,” said Stutzriem of the situation. “He’s a leader, a three-year starter. We were expecting big things from him.”

Stutzriem said Mack will redshirt this season and play in 2020. “He’s been at every summer work out,” the head coach added.

The defense will have to replace its top seven tacklers from last season.

The Battlin’ Bears return Sam Sparks (106 carries for 481 yards, 5 TDs) at running back and Travis Bloom on the offensive line, along with receivers Lucas Overton (53 receptions for 806 yards), Josh Kraft (10-166) and Casey Cole (2-52). Former Billings Central standout Holden Ryan will be used in an H-back role. Sparks, of Billings Senior, has 1,242 career rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

The defensive line returns Fili Church, Denton Wetherell and Mason Price. Ryder Rice, an All-American last season, graduated and transferred to the University of Montana.

“I think we have a good defensive line,” said Stutzriem. “I thought we did a real good job up front with the offensive and defensive lines. The guys were understanding the little changes we’ve installed.”

The secondary features Devonte Woods, Jimmy Henderson, Isaiah Schlegel and Ty Reynolds.

The team will practice once a day, from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m., with team meetings and weightlifting sessions in the afternoons and evenings.

“I told the team after spring ball, we need to pick up in fall camp where we left off,” Stutzriem said. “It’s about having meaningful reps on the field. Not just being there for three hours.”

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Email Joe Kusek at joe.kusek@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

Sports writer at the Billings Gazette

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