Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes leading up to his first season with the Fort Hays State University football team, Ceres High grad Ramon Coral spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit in a Kansas hospital.
Coral’s blood-sugar level soared to 600.
“It was a very scary experience,” said Coral, who lost 30 pounds from his 6-foot-4 frame and missed the first five games of the 2018 campaign due to health issues. “I would have gone into a sugar-induced coma if it wasn’t for my body size. I thought I wouldn’t be able to play football again. My health has gotten a lot better with diet and exercise. I don’t take as much insulin. The dosage got cut in half.”
On Nov. 16, Coral wrapped up his two-year athletic career at NCAA Division-II Fort Hays.
He logged playing time on the offensive line in a total of 13 games.
“I’m pretty satisfied,” he said. “I have no regrets. I worked my butt off to get to the position where I’m at. I had to grind to play in games and earn a starting spot.”
Coral played in seven games during his senior year.
He started at right tackle the final two contests.
The Tigers went 8-3 and tied for second in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) standings. “We had a bunch of seniors on the team,” Coral said. “We were all out there having fun. We just missed playoffs.”
Fort Hays closed out the season with a 91-7 win at Northeastern State.
The Tigers set program records for points in a game and season. Fort Hays racked up 734 yards of total offense, the second-highest total in team history. “We were scoring almost every drive,” Coral said. “We punted the ball just once.”
Coral’s first start of the 2019 season came on Senior Day. The Tigers lost 36-33 in double-overtime to No. 12 Northwest Missouri State on Nov. 9.
Coral’s mom, grandma, sister, aunt and uncle attended.
“I was emotional after the game when I saw my family,” he said. “I’m very happy they were able to come out and see me play.”
Coral started at right tackle during Fort Hays’ final five games his junior year.
The Tigers compiled a 9-3 record, advanced to the NCAA Playoffs and won a share of the MIAA championship (9-2).
“The first initial contact got the juices going,” said Coral, who made his debut in Fort Hays’ 50-21 home victory against No. 18 Pittsburg State.
Coral originally committed to Missouri Western State prior to signing with Fort Hays.
“I failed a class at San Barbara City College and they took the scholarship offer away,” he said. “I came back to Modesto Junior College to get my A.A. degree so I’d be eligible to receive a scholarship offer from another school.”
Coral committed to Fort Hays not long after visiting the campus.
Assistant Coach Jeff Bryant picked up Coral from the airport.
They chatted during the one-hour drive back to the college.
Coral enjoyed suiting up for the Tigers for two seasons.
“It was a one-of-a-kind experience,” he said. “I got to play with people from different walks of life. I had a lot of fun. It felt good playing for a winning program.”
Coral’s football career spanned 12 years.
He played the sport for the first time at the age of eight with the Ceres Falcons.
Coral made a name for himself at Ceres High after spending his freshman year at crosstown-rival Central Valley. He started on both the offensive and defensive lines during his two-year stint with Ceres High’s varsity squad.
Coral received second-team all-Western Athletic Conference recognition his senior year. He totaled 54 tackles, 31/2 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries.
Coral’s outstanding play earned him invitations to the Lions Club and Rotary All-Star Games.
He spent two seasons at San Barbara City College. The Vaqueros amassed a 12-9 overall record.
“It’s life,” he said. “This chapter ends and a new one opens up.”
Coral will graduate from Fort Hays in December of 2020. “I want to go back home and teach,” he said. “I also want to coach football. If the opportunity is there, I want to help out at Ceres High.”