WILLIAMSTOWN, MA- When Eph head football coach Mark Raymond was hired to be the Ephs' coach on February 24, 2016, he knew he would be inheriting a team that had struggled during the 2015 campaign. The 2015 team had finished 2-6 and lost 5 consecutive games to close out the season.
Further complicating the situation for Raymond and his staff was the handicap of not being able to recruit any players for his first Eph eleven. By February 24, all of the recruiting had been completed by the previous staff. Therefore, Raymond's priority upon being hired was to recruit a strong coaching staff. As of today, five of his original seven assistant coaches remain at Williams, a true testament to strength of the Williams football community.
Raymond's first Eph team opened the 2016 season with just 66 of the 75 players allowed by NESCAC on his roster and was down to just 52 healthy players by the final game of the season. Implementing new schemes and having to fill in backups at key positions resulted in an 0-8 season, but Raymond was undeterred. He had had success at turning programs around before as he inherited a losing program at St. Lawrence University and under Raymond the Saints improved dramatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
The first recruiting class enrolled at Williams by Raymond and his staff has made a dramatic impact. The 2017 Ephs went 6-3, were the declared most improved team in all of NCAA DIII football, and best of all those Ephs defeated archrival Amherst in overtime. That first recruiting class would have been seniors this fall and would be coming off a 7-2 season, however, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2020 campaign before it could even begin.
According to Raymond, a decent amount of seniors will be taking time off this fall to have one last chance to finish what they started three years ago. While the players on campus will be focused on getting stronger, player development, and learning the Eph offensive and defensive schemes the players off campus will be working out on their own.
Raymond stated that, "As long as [the off campus players] spend their time wisely, they can help us next season. Those who take advantage of this time away will have the competitive edge."
The 2021 captains Bobby Maimaron, John Rooney, TJ Rothmann, and Jarrett Wesner, have been in charge of keeping the team connected throughout the past few months. The team plans on maintaining communication through weekly positional and team meetings with both off-campus and on-campus players.
Although the seniors in the Class of 2021 could not have anticipated that their final season would be canceled, they were left with an opportunity to make a decision as to whether or not they would return for a fall 2021 season. The seniors who have elected to come back next fall have one goal in mind: win a NESCAC championship. They are determined to do whatever it takes during this gap semester/year to achieve that goal.
This fall Raymond and his staff are working out the younger players who elected to be on campus this fall with physical training and learning the Eph offensive and defensive schemes. Three times a week Raymond and his staff get to work out the young players and twice a week the players report to the Williams Sports Performance Tent on the visitors side of Farley-Lamb Field for workouts conducted by assistant coaches Mark McDonough, Ramon Mignott, and Tom Foote.