Fanfest kicks off the 2017 Navy football season

| August 8, 2017
Rams Head

Coach Ken Niumatalolo and his Midshipmen football team hosted a Media Day and Fanfest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday, August fifth. Fans were welcomed to the stadium with a row of players on each side of the concourse. Fans could enter each line and have every member of this year’s squad sign autographs. The fans then made their way down to the field where many activities were available including a giant inflatable battle ship and cheerleaders.

Before the fanfare and family fun, the day began with a preseason press conference. Coach Niumatalolo was joined by senior co-captains Slotback Darryl Bonner (Fayetteville, N.C.) and Linebacker D.J. Palmore (Bartlett, Tenn.), as well as senior linebacker Micha Thomas (Cedar Park, Texas) and junior quarterback Zach Abey (Pasadena, Md.).

Coach Niumatalolo started the press conference acknowledging the loss of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper. Coach Jasper has taken a leave of absence from the team to handle a family medical issue regarding his son. “No one has been more instrumental in the success of our football program than Ivin Jasper,” said Coach Niumatalolo “our prayers are with him.”

Then the conversation led to the Army-Navy game. For the first time in his career as head coach of the Midshipmen, and the first time in 14 years, Coach Niumatalolo was without the Commander In Chief trophy. “Our goals are always the same. Not having the Commander In Chief trophy is a huge motivating drive for our football program.” Said Niumatalolo.

This is also the first senior class to lead a team that is without the coveted trophy to bring inspiration. However, no other Navy senior class has ever accounted for 37 wins, and co-captains Bonner and Palmore say they are up for the challenge. “We use the loss as positive motivation to bring the commander in chief back to Annapolis,” said Bonner.

Junior quarterback Zach Abey has a special relationship with the Army-Navy game. Abey is the only quarterback in history to make his first start in the iconic match. He carried the ball 19 times for 73 yards and two touchdowns, but his slow start, multiple turnovers, and an exhausted Navy defense were too much to carry the team to victory. The second start of his career was the thrilling Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl against Louisiana Tech. Navy lost 45-48 on a last second field goal, but Abey was named Navy’s MVP after throwing for 159 yards, rushing for 114 and scoring three total touchdowns.

This season hopes to be another success under Coach Niumatalolo. His expectations for his team are very high. He expects a conference championship, he expects to beat Army, and finally, he expects to lead his team to the best bowl game possible. “I feel really good about our team, there’s something about this team, there’s a humility, a drive,” said Coach Niumatalolo, “I can sense that they want something really badly.” We’ll find out on Friday, September first when Navy kicks off their season against Florida Atlantic in Annapolis.

Severn Bank

Category: Events, LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, NEWS, Post To FB, Sports

About the Author ()

Kevin Chaney was born and raised in Pasadena, MD. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 2007 and served on board the USS Nimitz until 2012. He is now attending the University of Maryland. Follow him on his blog at http://kchaneyreporting.wixsite.com/sports