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Sometimes, change is necessary.

And change can be good.

Hired in January 2016 to take over the Rocky Mountain College football program, Jason Petrino and his staff had definitive ideas of what they wanted out of the Battlin’ Bears' first spring practice as the new coaches installed the offensive and defensive schemes.

Some of those ideas had to be put on the shelf as they worked with the players for the first time. 

Now Petrino and his assistants have more information this spring.

“Now having seen them play, we now feel we know what our kids do best,” he said of putting the players in position to succeed.

Having moved some of the pieces, the Rocky coaches will see a bigger and better picture Saturday of what they have when the Battlin’ Bears conduct their first scrimmage of spring practice.

The scrimmage will begin at approximately 11:15 a.m.

“It will be a lot of offense vs. defense,” Petrino said. “A lot of different situations. We’ll do very limited work with special teams.”

The Battlin’ Bears will run a set number of plays during the scrimmage, but Petrino did not say how many.

“I’ve got a number in my head. It depends on our health,” he said.

While trying to replenish the defensive line and find a starting quarterback, the coaches have moved a few players to different positions.

Linebacker Billy Williams gets closer to the action, moving from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. Safety Dallas Mack has been shifted from safety to outside linebacker.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Williams, from Gillette, Wyo., was Rocky’s third-leading tackler last fall with 51 total tackles. That included 5.5 tackles for loss.

Coaches moved the 6-1, 195-pound Mack closer to the line of scrimmage to muscle receivers. He had nine tackles in six games last season.

“It gives us a bigger body, an athletic body on the perimeter who can still help us in coverage,” Petrino said.

The coach also had praise for the spring play of running back Sam Sparks and defensive back Keenan Fagan.

“Sam looks good,” he said. “He came in bigger and stronger.”

Sparks led the Battlin’ Bears is all-purpose yards last year. He had two rushing touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for scores. Fagan played in seven games, registering 34 total tackles. He also had one tackle for loss, one quarterback sack and one interception.

“It’s so much different from last year,” Petrino said of his second year of spring ball. “The players are more comfortable with us as coaches and we’re more comfortable with the players.

“Our energy has been good this spring. The players are doing what we ask of them, which is getting better every day.”

The scrimmage will be Rocky’s 10th practice of the spring. The drills will wrap up Friday, April 21, with the annual spring game that evening at Herb Klindt Field.


High School Sports, Rodeo Reporter

Sports writer for The Billings Gazette.