A Team Of Their Own - UCT Kicks Off Football Program
By: Alex Scofield
Kevin C. Farr Jr., son of the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School superintendent, knew by halftime that September 13 would be a historic day for his school. A junior at Upper Cape Tech and a captain on the football team, Kevin was encouraged by the way the Rams played in the first half of their season opener against Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton. “We were stopping them, and we weren’t letting them make big gains,” Kevin said.
Upper Cape Tech’s 28-6 win over Blue Hills was more than a season opener, it was a program opener, the first game ever played by the school’s own football team. After the clock ran out and the teams shook hands, Kevin said, “We all got together, and we basically shared a moment of the first win of Upper Cape Tech history.”
“We were ecstatic,” said Robert Joyce, Upper Cape Tech’s athletic director. “It was a lot of fun, and it was against an established team.”
“It was very emotional,” said Kevin’s father, Kevin C. Farr Sr., who has worked at the school for 32 of the school’s 37 years of existence.
Mr. Farr attended the game with Principal Robert Dutch. The players presented Mr. Farr and Mr. Dutch with the game ball, which will be emblazoned with the game’s final score, and is now displayed in the school’s trophy case.
For years, Upper Cape Tech had to piggyback off Bourne High School’s football program through a cooperative team with players from both schools. Upper Cape Tech students had to leave campus each day for practice, and students from Marion, Sandwich, Falmouth, or Wareham had to join forces with a rival town, but the cooperative team provided opportunities for Upper Cape Tech students to play junior varsity and varsity football.
The death blow to the cooperative Bourne/UCT program came in June, under order of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) District D, which ruled by vote that Bourne High School had a sufficient number of students to field its own football team. Upper Cape Tech students who were already part of the Bourne/UCT cooperative program could remain in it until graduation. As for incoming students interested in football, Upper Cape Tech faced two options as summer began—scrap football completely, or start its own program. The school opted for the latter.
“That was quite an undertaking,” Mr. Joyce said. “We took the bull by the horns.”
For starters, approval by the school committee was necessary. Both Mr. Joyce and Mr. Farr expressed their gratitude to the committee for approving the program, and for doing so in such a short amount of time.
The school was able to get all the necessary equipment by the last week in August. Mr. Joyce assembled a schedule that chiefly consisted of road games against junior varsity teams, as well as the newly formed varsity squads from Harwich and Pope John Paul II in Hyannis.
The pieces were in place, but would students be interested? As it turned out, the answer was yes. Mr. Joyce said 44 students originally signed up, about 17 apiece in the freshman and sophomore classes, the rest in their junior years. The junior varsity roster has since stabilized at about 35 students.
The turnout far exceeded Mr. Joyce’s expectations; he had figured on about 25 students trying out.
“I thought if I got that, I’m going to have a team,” Mr. Joyce said. “I was overwhelmed.”
Four Upper Cape Tech upperclassmen remained with the Bourne/UCT program this year. For now, that remains the only option for the school’s students who want to play on the varsity level, as Upper Cape Tech is a junior varsity program.
Many students who went out for the Upper Cape Tech team had not played organized football in recent years. “They probably played Pop Warner, but hadn’t played since then, so they came to us raw,” Mr. Joyce said.
“Some of them just wanted to see what it was about,” said Kevin Jr., now a team co-captain along with juniors Chris Andrews, Brian Michel, and Brendan Carroll. “Once we started this team, everyone was into it.… It became like a brotherhood.”
There is no head coach for the Rams squad this year. Two coaches split duty—Ed Eldredge serves as the team’s offensive coordinator, while Mike Hernon is the defensive coordinator. Scott McNair is a volunteer coach, who often works with the linemen.
The Rams had a winning record until Monday, when a 14-12 loss at Nantucket dropped them to 3-3 for the season. The Rams, like Nantucket, scored two touchdowns, but they unsuccessfully went for two-point conversions after each one. Going for two was really their only choice—there are no goalposts on Upper Cape Tech’s practice field, so the team has not had the chance to groom a placekicker, Mr. Joyce said.
The players did not mope about the Nantucket loss, said Mr. Farr, who greeted the students when they returned from Nantucket on the high-speed ferry.
“They came back off the boat smiling,” he said.
The Rams will play one true home game this season, against Pope John Paul II on Monday, November 1. They will conclude their season on Monday, November 22, against Cape Cod Regional Technical School under the lights at Clean Harbors Stadium at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. If Upper Cape Tech gets approved to field a varsity football program—not a done deal, Mr. Farr stresses—both Mr. Joyce and Mr. Farr said that an annual Thanksgiving game against Cape Cod Tech is likely.
“As we construct our budget for next year, I’m hoping to be able to find the resources in the budget to bring the varsity program to fruition,” Mr. Farr said. Though mindful of the economic times, Mr. Farr said, he also wants Upper Cape Tech students to have athletic opportunities that are available to most high school students.
This year’s junior varsity squad has already helped boost school spirit, Mr. Farr said. The school acquired a Ram mascot costume, and the week of the Cape Cod Tech game will include a pep rally and the school’s first-ever homecoming dance, which has already sold out. “It’s been very energizing for the student body,” Mr. Farr said.
Football players wear their jerseys to school, and they have reason to be proud, said their athletic director.
“The kids are getting better, they’re still enthusiastic, and they want to play,” Mr. Joyce said. “For an opening program, that makes us feel pretty good about our future.”
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