He’s found his place as a place-kicker
Michael Baron (inset) could free-kick a soccer ball more than 60 yards in the air as a defender at the Roxbury Latin School.
“So I started doing the same with a football just for fun on the side and I really liked it,’’ said the Medfield resident, a sophomore at Bentley University who has taken over the place-kicking duties for the Falcons’ football team this fall, and is flourishing in the role.
Baron, who did not play football in high school, was named the Northeast-10 Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after making four field goals — tying the school and conference single-game record — in a 33-27 win over Saint Anselm College.
The Medfield resident also kicked off eight times and made his first career tackle at midfield to prevent a potential touchdown return. Through six games, Baron had converted seven of 10 field goal attempts and all 19 extra point tries, and was pacing the NE-10 in field goals and points. He knocked down all nine extra points in a 56-13 victory over Pace on Saturday.
“This is all still pretty new to me. I’ve never been part of such a big brotherhood where everyone is pulling for you,’’ said the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Baron, an Independent League soccer all-star and captain his senior year at Roxbury Latin.
“The biggest challenge, especially last year, was adapting to the workouts and practices. They were pretty tough.”
Bentley head coach Thom Boerman turned to Baron after last year’s kicker, Will Lockwood, graduated and his heir apparent, sophomore Ryan Dahlen, took on a part-time job this season.
“Michael showed a strong leg and was impressive when he tried out last year,’’ said Boerman. “The luxury was that he had a chance to get acclimated to college football without the pressure of having to compete right away.
“He’s been tremendous for us, solid as a rock. We have a good rapport and there isn’t any situation when that young man runs out onto the field that I don’t have a pretty good idea what I’m going to get out of him. If we can get the ball down to the 25- or 30-yard line, he’s shown he can come through.’’
Baron wanted to do likewise for the football squad at Roxbury Latin and pass up playing soccer as a senior. But he was denied permission to switch teams by the school administration.
“I wasn’t happy about it, to be honest, but once I got back to playing soccer, I gave everything I had for my teammates,’’ said Baron, who played in the New England Prep School Senior All-Star game that season.
He remains grateful to Roxbury Latin football coach Patrick Ross, who first saw Baron kick the summer before his senior year at the New England Elite football camp, held at Bentley.
“Coach Ross, after he learned I was going to Bentley, mentioned me to Coach Boerman and that set things in motion,’’ said Baron.
“I didn’t see myself as a soccer player in college. I didn’t play on any club soccer teams and I got more and more intrigued with football,’’ said Baron.
“Will Lockwood was my mentor last year. I learned so much from him. I had never been to a football practice before in my life.’’
This summer, he worked out with his younger brother, John, now a senior kicker and punter at Roxbury Latin.
The Baron brothers have also been tutored by Pro Football Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud , who worked for the same architectural firm — HNTB Engineering — as Baron’s mother, Beth Larkin . She told Stenerud about her boys and he invited them for a private workout at his home in Colorado Springs in the summer of 2011.
“Jan still stays in touch with them,’’ said Baron’s father, Steve, “and when Michael tied the record he called Jan with the news.’’
Baron said his soccer experience — anticipating plays and reading the field in front of him while choosing his angle of attack — helped his transition.
“You have to do what comes naturally and you can’t be shy about it. When I made that tackle I was the safety valve back there and I was pretty excited afterward,’’ said Baron, who shook off a partially blocked 38-yard field goal attempt on his first collegiate try against Mercyhurst before drilling a 27-yarder later in the game.
“I had already forgotten about the first one. The jitters were gone,’’ he said. “I had enough confidence in myself that even if I hadn’t kicked in high school I was going to make the most of my opportunity in college if given a shot.”
Boerman said Baron is “money from 40 to 42 yards out, his kickoffs are usually to around the 5-yard line, and he’s made the adjustment to players bearing down on him.
“Now and then I give him a rest at practice because of all we ask him to do. After all, he’s our only place-kicker and we need to keep him fresh and ready to go.’’
Newton South adds
to hall of fame
The Newton South High Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet will be held Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. at the American Legion Post 440.
The inductees include David Greenblatt (class of1962), Jeff Bergart (’66), Steve Parnell (’66), Chuck Hurwitz (‘67), Bucky Adams (’68), Paul Murphy (’72), Greg MacDonald (’78), Patrice Galvin Hagen (’82), Meatchie Russell (’84), Elizabeth Beardslee (’95), and Tanya Rosbash (’04).
Former headmaster E. Van Seasholes will have an award established in his name honoring individuals who have made a significant contribution to athletics at Newton South.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 617-559-6599 or online at newtonsouthhof.eventbrite.com.
Pair of hockey coaching clinics
Two upcoming hockey coaching clinics: The Boston Bruins will hold the team’s annual Coaching Symposium the morning of Oct. 26 at TD Garden. Members of the Bruins coaching staff and organization, USA Hockey, and Harvard University will be speaking. The event is free. For details and to register, go to www.bostonbruins.com/youthhockey.
The Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association will have its annual gathering at Merrimack College on Oct. 29 starting at 2 p.m. Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy is the host. For more information, contact Hingham High coach John Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.