Raymond takes over as football coach

September 22, 2016 by Jack Greenberg, Executive Editor

When the Ephs compete in their first regular season football game against Colby this Saturday, they will head onto the field without Head Coach Aaron Kelton — who resigned last December following a disappointing season — for the first time in six years. Instead, the men will travel to Colby under the guidance of newly minted Head Coach Mark Raymond, who was named Kelton’s successor in this February after serving as head football coach at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. for six seasons.

Upon arriving in Williamstown last March, Raymond got right to work in preparing for this season. Raymond began his tenure by reviewing footage from last fall’s 2–6 season to assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses, reaching out to recruits from the Class of 2020 and, perhaps most importantly, working on bringing in new coaching personnel to the team.

Raymond believes a more disciplined approach to practice is key for the team this season.

“The number one thing we are looking for is great effort,” Coach Raymond said. “We cannot be out-worked by our opponents. The things we need to work on the most are discipline and playing together as a team.”

Ultimately, Raymond who has stated that he will be serving as defensive coordinator on top of his responsibilities as head coach —  proved to be just one of a few additions to the Ephs’ coaching lineup. Alex Smith, who served under Raymond for two years as quarterbacks coach at St. Lawrence, followed his boss to Williamstown to retain his previous title and serve as offensive coordinator. Leondre Simon, who was a defensive back under Raymond at St. Lawrence, is beginning his collegiate coaching career this season with the Ephs as defensive backs coach. In addition, Tom Blumenauer, who most recently served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Bowdoin Polar Bears and also worked at St. Lawrence under Raymond beforehand, will coach the offensive line and coordinate the recruiting program for the Ephs. Blumenauer also played under Raymond when Raymond was an assistant coach at Ithaca College in New York.

Kyle Smesko, who previously was the mens’ offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, will now serve as the running backs coach. Marshall Creighton, who oversaw the football program in the off-season following Kelton’s departure, has transitioned into the role of secondary coach.

Raymond is enthusiastic about the coaches who will join him on the sidelines this season.

“They’re guys with impeccable character and great knowledge of the game,” Raymond said in a statement to The Berkshire Eagle. “They’re good teachers. I’m excited to have them on board.”

Already, the Ephs are beginning to see the recruitment of Raymond and his new additions to the program paying dividends.

“The foundation for a great season is an equally great preseason, and this preseason has been just that,” tri-captain Chris Hattar ’18 said. “In my 16 years of playing football, this has been the most energetic and uptempo preseason I have experienced. There is a newfound drive and intensity in this program that has been evoked by this coaching staff, and we aim to carry that focus into the fall.”

Coach Raymond is similarly excited by the efforts in preseason.

“Our captains have been great,” Coach Raymond said.  “Throughout the summer months, and during training camp, Mike [David ’17], Eric [Davis ’17] and Chris have provided outstanding leadership to our team. I am very proud of their efforts.”

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