FORT MEADE, Md., Dec. 10, 2014 – Cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, will square off Dec. 13 for the 115th Army-Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
As the game draws closer, fans are engaged in spirited taunting, posting spirited videos online, including footage of how each academy’s students may or may not have absconded with each other’s mascots this year.
Both teams have been practicing for the game for about two weeks, and the players said getting the win is the main goal.
Preparing to Defense the Option
“I want to get the ‘W’ obviously, especially since this is my last year,” said senior Parrish Gaines, a Navy safety and defensive co-captain. “The only teams we play that run the option are the Air Force and the Army, so it’s different. We have to get prepared for it, but these guys are ready for it.
“We just want to make sure everybody’s running the ball, hitting and playing full speed, playing fast, being confident,” he added. “We’ve just been fine-tuning all of our gap assignments. We’ll be ready.”
Army defensive end and senior Robert Kough said his team is ready to win as well.
“This team, more than any team I’ve been a part of, wants this victory,” he said. “It’s the biggest sporting event I’ve ever been a part of -- the emotion, the passion when you get on the field. I know what it’s like to be a part of a team that wants to win that game so desperately. It’s a huge emotional battle. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Active Duty Commitment Awaits
As the players for both teams have known since they arrived at their respective academies, a tryout in the National Football League or a job in the civilian world is not going to follow their collegiate football careers. In most cases, they face a five-year commitment to active duty.
Richard Glover, an Army defensive lineman and senior, will be a field artillery officer.
“Ever since my recruiting visit and during my time here, I’ve been drawn toward the loud booms of the big guns,” he said. “It really means a lot to me that I’m going to represent the armed forces in my future profession and lead the sons and daughters of America.”
Kough will be assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers, and he hopes to be a combat engineer.
“Most of my schooling revolved around being an engineer, and I wasn’t sure if I would get that opportunity,” he said, “but I kept working and fortunately, I was able to get that opportunity.”
Parrish will be a Marine Corps ground officer. He said he hopes to specialize in the logistics career field. “I joined the Navy to better myself and to provide for my family,” he said.
Keenan Reynolds, Naval Academy quarterback and junior, has broken NCAA and Naval Academy records and is in contention for All-American status. He said his aunt and her husband served in the Navy and that although this influenced him a bit, his decision to serve was more than that.
“I had family in the Navy. Before getting an opportunity to play ball here, I had never thought about joining the military, but once I looked into the opportunities that it would bring after college, I couldn’t pass it up,” he said. “It’s just an awesome opportunity to be here at the Naval Academy, serving my country. Being here -- coming and seeing this place and talking to the people who have been here -- this felt like the right place to be.”
Reynolds said he is looking to join the Marine Corps upon graduation and is considering aviation.
Football Rivalry Began in 1890
While the seniors have their careers planned out, their minds are still on gaining their final “W” of the season in what often is called “America’s Game.” The Army-Navy Game rivalry began in 1890, Army’s inaugural football season, when the midshipmen issued a challenge to the cadets. Dennis Mahan Michie accepted, and the rivalry was born.
Navy had been playing football since 1879, minus 1880 and 1881, when they didn’t field a team. Navy took a 24-0 victory over the Army in the inaugural contest.
Dating back to the 2002 contest, Navy has won the last 12 games in the series.
Traditionally played on the second Saturday in December, the Army-Navy game marks the last regular-season game of the year for both teams. The kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST, and the game will be televised nationally by CBS.