Carroll College’s football players got a nice flashback to their high school days when the Saints practiced on the field at Vigilante Stadium on Friday.
They’ll get a glimpse of the future when they stride out on the turf at Montana State’s Bobcat Stadium today in Bozeman.
The Saints are preparing for a night game on artificial turf when they face Sioux Falls (S.D.) in the NAIA national championship game Dec. 18 in Rome, Ga. The game— which is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. EST, 2:30 locally — will be under the lights at Barron Stadium with cameras from CBS College Sports showing the matchup nationwide.
Vigilante Stadium was to give them the first half of the feel for the game. Though they were pounding on the frozen grass much like they had at Nelson Stadium, they were able to make their plays with their shadows spliced all over the grounds.
“It’s pretty cool, you hear a lot about it from the Helena and Capital guys,” said sophomore defensive end Rhakeem Harris of playing in the local high schools’ stadium. “I remember down in Lakeland (Fla.) we would always play at night and had the Jumbotron going.”
There was no Jumbotron at Vigilante, and there isn’t expected to be one in the title game. Plus, the mud that caked the two teams and gave a classic look to former Saints linebacker Brandon Day when he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated following the 2007 meeting between the two teams will be missing as well.
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Instead of earth, the players will be chewing on something else instead.
“The little rubber pieces get everywhere,” said junior safety Tucker Vezina of Dillon.
He’s scrimmaged on the fieldturf at the University of Montana and even felt the rug burns from the harder turf at Utah with his brother, but never played a game on the artificial substance (which Sioux Falls has the benefit of at their stadium).
“I’m excited, I think it’s going to be fun,” he said. “You see the other teams play on turf and it doesn’t slow them down at all.”
The best part of transitioning from frozen grounds to rubber?
“Being able to cut and run like we used to,” Vezina said.