New London - Asked to talk about the evolution of senior quarterback Jon Resch, Coast Guard Academy offensive coordinator Ray LaForte doesn't have to delve too far into the past for material.
Resch recently rode in the ambulance with younger teammate John-Anthony Ceruti when Ceruti was transferred from Lawrence & Memorial Hospital to Yale-New Haven for knee surgery.
And LaForte has seen Resch conversing at length with LaForte's 6-year-old daughter Madison.
"He'll talk to her for 30 minutes and he's not laboring to do that," LaForte said. "It's the rare kid. He doesn't have to act tough all the time. ... He's a total adult."
Resch has been a significant part of the Coast Guard football program since his freshman season when he set the team record for single-game passing yards (469) and touchdowns (6) and tied the mark for completions (34) against Maine Maritime, earning the Division II/III Gold Helmet.
Resch started five games as a sophomore and passed for 952 yards. He played in all nine games as a junior, the backup to then-senior Jarrod Owens, an option-type bulldozer of a quarterback who best fit the Bears' need at the time.
Yes, Resch, the talented quarterback who threw for 4,000 career yards at Warwick High School in Lititz, Pa., and whom LaForte remembers being "pumped" to have attend the academy, has been a factor in one way or another since his arrival at Coast Guard.
But never like this.
The now 22-year-old Resch is the starting quarterback. The No. 1 guy. And everyone knows it.
"He definitely has grown up. It's his team now. He's at the top of the tier," LaForte said this week. "He doesn't have to take his back seat. It's his thing. He doesn't have to impress every time he touches the ball anymore. He's loose and he's himself. He has such a good grasp."
The offense is likely to reflect Resch's personality as a dropback passer, as opposed to Owens' knock-em-down attitude - "Jared breaks things," LaForte said.
He'll be ready, as Coast Guard opens the season at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in New London against rival Merchant Marine.
"I'm comfortable," said Resch, whose first career completion came on a 75-yard touchdown pass his freshman year. "I've had four years with this offense. We have four out of five returning starters on the line. The receivers are looking good. I think we're looking good."
Resch has always been at the ready to spell Owens when needed. Last year, Resch said he and Owens spoke every time Owens came off the field.
"Off the field, I'm friends with Jarrod. I always looked up to Jarrod," Resch said.
It's a situation from which Resch said he learned, rather than becoming discouraged. He said this season he's mentally "leaps and bounds" over where he was last year, something seconded by LaForte and by head coach Bill George, who calls Resch "a very intelligent quarterback, more than just about any we've ever had."
"Mentally," said Resch, who is 6-feet, 190 pounds. "I think physically my arm has always been there. But now I can tell kids what they're doing and where they're going. I know a lot more."
Tight end Casey Paris, one of Coast Guard's captains, said that being assertive as a senior at the academy comes from "learning from the best."
"Every year, it's kind of a little bit different, different perspectives," Paris said of Coast Guard's progression of quarterbacks. "Jesse Karr (2009-10), he was tough. Jarrod (2011) was aggressive and the rest of the team feeds off that. Resch is more of a doctor or a surgeon."
George said that during spring practice this year, his main goal was to get Resch and LaForte to click, so that Resch's reaction times became almost automatic.
"He's got a chance to be a record-setting quarterback," George said. "That's what time will tell.
"I can tell you I think Jon is looking forward to this game Saturday. It's his senior year. He's playing against Merchant Marine. Isn't that what it's all about? ... Jon knows his football."
Resch said he and LaForte have always been "tight," even when LaForte, from his perch upstairs in the press box, summons the quarterback for an urgent talking to on the headset.
"I don't think I ever really rattled him," LaForte said. "He's so beyond that. ... He's the reason you coach at Coast Guard. Now he's a leader."