MISSOULA, Mont. -

When the Carroll College Fighting Saints football team takes the field this season they'll have a new man calling the signals.

After three years of watching and holding a clipboard, Whitefish native Mac Roche takes over the reigns as the starting quarterback for the No. 2 ranked Hilltoppers.

The 6-foot-1 205 pound red-shirt junior says he's thrilled to finally get his chance at the starting job.

"It's great, I'm really excited," said Roche. "This is my 4th year because I red-shirted, so I learned a lot from Dane and Doc. I'm really just excited to be playing with this team and for the season to get started."

"Well he's done a good job, but again this is practice," said Carroll head football coach Mike Van Diest. "The story will be told on September 6th out in Ashland, Oregon where he's got to do it against live coverages, live blitzes and things like that. He's got to make decisions, he doesn't  have time to repeat it out here like he does in practice. Mac's worked hard for this, he's been well trained and schooled by coach Howlett and I just think Mac has all the confidence in the world in his teammates."

Roche threw only two passes all of last season for Carroll as a back-up QB to Dakota Stonehouse, who led the saints to the NAIA semifinals and an overall record of 12-2.

"It's a lot of pressure but you know I don't really think about that, I've been playing this game since I've been in 4th grade so you know it just comes naturally and I just go out there and play football. I think my strength is football knowledge, just being on the same page as coach Howlett checking into things when we want it and checking out.  Knowing when to do what and I think that I will mature a lot even as the season goes through."

The Saints open the 2014 season on the road at Southern Oregon University on September 6th.