Jordan Pine knew he would get playing time at running back, but patience had to come first.
Pine, a 2010 Olympia High School graduate, is finding a bigger role in the backfield at Carroll College, ranked No. 3 in the latest NAIA Division II football poll, but is expected to drop after its surprising 35-31 loss to previously winless Eastern Oregon over the weekend.
Pine has primarily been used as a third-down back for the Fighting Saints (4-1).
His increased playing time has led to more production from the 5-foot-10, 208-pound redshirt junior.
He has a career-high 111 rushing yards on 23 carries through five games.
“It’s definitely a bit of a change-up,” Pine said from Helena, Mont. “I know the offense a lot better. I’m comfortable with everything.”
Consistent carries in the Fighting Saints’ offense haven’t always been there for Pine, who is in his fourth season in the program.
Ahead of him was All-American back Chance Demarais, who finished his eligibility as Carroll’s all-time career rushing leader with 4,474 yards.
During Carroll’s 2011 run to its eighth national title game in 11 seasons (a 24-20 loss to Saint Xavier of Illinois that denied its seventh title), Pine, then a redshirt freshman, saw limited action (78 yards rushing in six games), then played special teams in 2012.
While he didn’t get playing time in the 2011 national championship game, he traveled with the team to Rome, Ga.
Pine said he thinks this season’s team – with a 4-1 mark and outscoring opponents, 158-62 – has all the tools to make another deep playoff run – something that isn’t new to Carroll football.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” Pine said. “I feel we can go to the national championship with this team.”
LOVE THE LEADER
Despite The Evergreen State College’s five-set loss to Corban on Friday night, junior Victoria Love had a volleyball match to remember.
Not only did she establish a school record for kills in a match (37), that mark is the best in NAIA this season.
Love, who also set a school record in total swings in the match (81), is the Cascade Collegiate Conference’s kills-per-set leader with 3.75.
The Geoducks, who earlier this season snapped a 52-match losing skid dating to 2010, are 2-9 overall and 1-5 in the CCC. They travel to Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech this weekend.
After winning the SMU Invitational on Saturday, Saint Martin’s Joe Berger was named the men’s cross-country athlete of the week by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Berger finished the race in 26 minutes, 30.46 seconds. … Saint Martin’s men’s soccer team, which had its three-game winning streak snapped Saturday against Northwest Nazarene, plays host to Simon Fraser, top ranked in NCAA Division II, at 3:15 p.m. Saturday on the Saints’ soccer field. … Evergreen goalkeeper Collin Harlow leads the Cascade Collegiate Conference with four shutouts in six starts. He also ranks second in save percentage (.844).Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick