For the past two years, the RE football team has quietly become a formidable group, beating teams with much more well-established programs. Despite players prioritizing academic excellence before football, the team has only lost two games over the past two seasons, thanks in large part to the team’s coaching staff, front lined by Roger Caron. While he originally came to Ransom Everglades to aid in college recruitment and teach World Civilizations, Caron stepped up as head football coach during his second year due to a coaching vacancy.
Coach Caron is no stranger to football at academically focused institutions. He spent 34 years at the NCAA Division III level as the offensive line coach at Williams College from 1987-1993; he was also the head coach of the joint Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens for two stints for 19 combined years, with another head coaching job at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut from 2005-2006. Even before his coaching days, he was a first-team Division 1 AA AP all-American and two-time first-team All-Ivy League offensive lineman at Harvard.
For the RE football team, this year is much more significant than previous years, due in part to the team’s undefeated season last year. A lot more pressure is being placed on the team to keep the level of success they have had. Coach Caron has stated many times that the team “is no longer a surprise.” In addition, the team lost a lot of veteran talent when star players like Thomas Schein ‘21, Nick Lampert ‘21, Thomas Heisel ‘21, and Walker White ’21 graduated (Schein and Lampert have gone on to continue their football careers at the University of Chicago and Duke University respectively). There are some holes that need to be filled for this team to continue its success.
Earlier this summer, I got to speak with Coach Caron about his outlook on this season’s team. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Our teams have always lost key players every year, but it seems like this is even more apparent this year. How do you think this team will compete compared to past years?
Well, it’s always the case where people who know the program, who follow the program, will say, ‘Geez, they’re losing so and so, so they can’t be as good next year.’ And that happened after my first year coaching at Ransom: we lost a couple kids who went to Tufts [Phil Covil ‘19 and Lucas Ferrer ‘19], as well as a couple of other kids who were dynamic players, and it was, “They’re not gonna be any good next year,” and we start off the next season 7-0, before Schein got hurt, and we still remained competitive. So, same this coming in this year, losing the guys you mentioned earlier [Thomas Schein ‘21, Thomas Heisel ‘21, Walker White ‘21, Nick Lampert ‘21], on top of some other guys is certainly a big loss. Who’s kidding who? However, the reality at a place like Ransom is that there’s a ‘man down, man up’ theory. When somebody goes and graduates or even gets hurt, somebody else has to step up, and I’m anticipating that this year. We have a number of players who are coming out for the first time, or coming back to the program. We have some talent at some key positions that with time, coaching, and commitment will develop into good players. I think our schedule isn’t making us play heavyweights every single week. So, I think we have a chance to be competitive, and the key to our success this year will be how long it takes for the new talent to coalesce into a working operation. We won’t know how this goes until we get it all going. And that’s going to be the key to our success this year: the new guys or the backups from last year stepping up and coalescing. If that happens, we’ll be competitive again.
Even though we lost 12-13 genuine starters to the team, this is the biggest turnout in your coaching tenure, right? What do you think about the turnout for this year?
Yeah, if everybody who says they’ll show up do show up, then our numbers are solid. We don’t have the same numbers as some other schools, but, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Years ago, when I coached at a boarding school up in Connecticut for two years, we only had 18 on the varsity. However, we still had a very competitive year. So, it isn’t the numbers, it’s the quality: it’s not how many players we have, it’s how many we have that are good athletes, good players, and who are committed to putting the time and energy into being a competitive football player. So, how’s that gonna work out? I don’t know yet, but I’m optimistic that we’ll be formidable again. Can we put up 40-50 points a game like last year? I don’t know yet, but can we win games with a more ball-controlled offense, competitive defense, and solid special teams? That might be more in the cards this year, but it’s up to the coaches to make sure we tailor the offense and defense to the personnel we have. So, if you don’t have explosive wide receiving play, for example, then that’s not the gameplan. It’s more play action and shorter passing and running the ball. So, we will adapt as the circumstances indicate we should. We’ll have to do a good job of that as coaches this year.
There’s been a lot of coaching turnover over the past three or so years for various reasons, so how confident are you in the staff you have right now?
Well, it’s the same core guys as in spring football, Coach Jake and Coach Mark, plus the addition of Edward Lally, who’s a new teacher at the middle school. The core of what we’re doing, especially with Jake and I, we’re ready to go and looking forward to it. Our expectations are that everybody shows up in the best possible place that they can be, so we don’t use training camp as a way to get people ready to play. We got to move on from that, put in the schemes from offense and defense, and adapt to what our talent is giving us. So, we can’t use training camp as a way to get in shape, right? So, I’m hoping the guys, especially the ones we’re counting on the win games for us, show up ready to go.
Any closing thoughts about anything regarding the team, schedule, or anything?
You know, Ransom’s unique in the whole state of Florida because it’s one of those situations where you have a football team full of guys who didn’t go here to play football. They might go to some other schools because they want that experience of football or athletics, and good for them. However, we are unique in that our guys are more concerned with academic excellence rather than they are about football. And that’s what makes it so much more fun to win against those schools because you’re able to prove that you can be an outstanding student, someone who’s very concerned about your academics, and still be a good football player. That’s what’s unique with us, and that’s what I like about the program, and I hope to continue that excellence this year.
Coach Caron and the Ransom Everglades football team will open their season tonight at home against Archbishop Carroll at 7 pm.