By Matt Noonan
Earlier this week, I caught up with Framingham State head coach Tom Kelley to discuss the team’s training camp thus far, as well as what fans should expect from the Rams this season.
A few weeks ago, the New England Football Coaches’ preseason poll predicted that the Rams and Bridgewater State would finish the year atop the Bogan Division. Last season, Framingham State earned their first Bogan crown, as well as a spot in the league championship. Yet, the Rams hopes of a NCAA Div. III playoff bid were tarnished by an overtime loss against Western New England College in the league championship.
“I think about [the championship] and I’ve thought about it every single day since the end of that game, and I think the kids have too,” said Kelley. “We remind them of how close we were and the feeling that we had after that game and we certainly want to get back there at some point and experience it.”
The Rams did however claim their second consecutive MASCAC, (Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference) championship last season, too, while the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston selected Kelley as the Division II-III Head Coach of the Year.
Kelley is entering his sixth season at the helm in his second stint with the Rams, which began in 2007, and is hoping his team will continue their momentum from last year.
Here is the first part of our conversation with Coach Kelley, which we’ve highlighted below.
On training camp thus far: “It’s been an interesting week. It’s getting to that point of the camp where we’re just getting sick of looking at each other and emotions are running high, and people are getting a little itchy to hit someone new, so we’ll be scrimmaging on Thursday, so we’ll know a little bit more [about our squad then]. It’s been interesting, [but] we had a good recruiting class and I think the young guys are pushing some of the upper-class guys, so in that case it’s been good.”
On overcoming adversity last season at the quarterback position: “One of the things last year was that I’m most proud of is that we went through a lot of adversity and we had injury upon injury, played five different quarterbacks, and we were still able to win the division and get to the championship. I’m really proud of the guys [and] we’ve had great character guys here. One of the things we preach is hard work and no matter what happens, we’ve got to rise above and we will face adversity at some point. And our kids, one after the other just stepped up. We can adjust pretty well and can go to Plan-B pretty quickly and we kind of drilled that into our players heads that if they can stop one thing than we can do another and we were able to do that last year.”
On the growth/impact of running back Melikke Van Alstyne: “We go from David Leach, who put us on the map, David put us on the map. We get Melikke, say to Melikke, come in and you’re going to enter behind David Leach and great character kid, and I keep saying that and it’s true. Leach was the guy, he put Framingham State on the map and he goes down in camp, so Melikee – there is this little skinny freshman – and the one thing [when] recruiting Melikke, all his coaches said, ‘you’re going to love this kid not only as a player,’ and as one coach said, ‘he’s the one player that you’re going to want to adopt’ and that’s what good a kid he is and it’s certainly been true. He’s a good kid on the field, off the field, and he works extremely hard in everything he does. He’s looked fantastic at camp [so far and], he’s in great shape and he’s worked real hard.”