Navy Opens Season Against a Revitalized Rainbow Warriors Team

| August 31, 2018
The Navy Midshipmen are gearing up to begin their 138th season of football which kicks off on Saturday at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawai’i. This game marks the fourth time the Midshipmen and the Rainbow Warriors have faced off and the first since 2013 when Navy beat Hawai’i 42-38 in Annapolis.

Navy is also preparing for the longest leg of their more than 26,000 travel miles that take them to Honolulu, San Diego, and New Orleans. They have the second most grueling travel schedule behind Hawai’i, who will travel 38,578 miles this season.“Travel is no excuse,” said senior co-captain Anthony Gargiulo. “We get on a plane; it’s a business trip. We do what we gotta do, and then we come back.”

Hawai’i Head Coach Nick Rolovich is entering his third season leading the Rainbow Warriors. Last season Hawai’i was 3-9, including 1-7 in the Mountain West Conference and finished the season on a five-game losing streak. After the disappointing season, Rolovich and his staff decided to reinstate the Run & Shoot offense that made Hawai’i famous in the early 2000’s.

In 2006, the Rainbow Warriors led the nation in passing offense, total offense, scoring offense, and pass efficiency. QB Colt Brennan threw for 5,549-yards and 58 TD. That team had two 1,000-yard receivers in Davone Bess (1,220 yds), and Jason Rivers (1,178 YDS). RB Nate Ilaoa had 1,827 all-purpose YDS and 18 TD. Now, Rolovich has a chance to implement his brand of the Run & Shoot with a young, talented roster just begging for an opportunity to bring back glory to Aloha Stadium.

The centerpiece of the system is the QB. As the receivers adjust their routes based on their coverage, the QB must also recognize the adjustments or things get ugly, quickly. During the offseason, Rolovich kept the competition open between three young prospects; Cole McDonald, Chevan Cordeiro, and Jeremy Moussa.

Cordeiro and Moussa are freshmen who had stellar high school careers but have not had an opportunity to play at the collegiate level. McDonald is a sophomore who only had nine pass attempts for 22-yards coming into the season, but showed all summer long that he was ready to lead this team and excited to bring back the offensive system that initially made him love Hawai’i football.

“It’s nostalgic,” said McDonald on getting a chance to run the Run & Shoot offense. “Definitely going to be slinging the rock around. That’s what we’re known for out here in Hawai’i, so that’s what we’re gonna be doing.”

That’s exactly what the sophomore QB did when he was awarded the starting job just before Hawai’i’s game against Colorado State. McDonald went 26-for-37 with 418 YDS and 3 TD. When he wasn’t slicing the Ram’s secondary into pieces through the air, he carried the ball 13 times for 96-yards and two more touchdowns as Hawai’i beat Colorado State 43-34.

McDonald spread the love all over the field. Seven different players managed to get receptions, with juniors John Ursua and Cedric Byrd leading the pack. Byrd had 11 receptions for 181-yards and a TD, and Ursua took his seven receptions 123-yards for two scores.

Navy has their work cut out for them, but they are familiar with high-powered offenses. Navy faced two of the top-10 and three of the top-16 passing attacks in the country and held all three below their average.

The burden isn’t only on the shoulders of the defense. For the Mid’s to get out of Hawai’i with the win, the offense is going to have to do their part to keep the ball out of the hands of the Rainbow Warrior offense. That starts with Junior QB Malcolm Perry.

“He’s ready to play.” Said offensive coordinator Ivan Jasper on Perry. Perry took over at QB from senior Zach Abey last season against SMU and looks ready to start his first season opener under center. His resume is impressive for a kid who was watching football games from the stands two years ago. In his three starts at QB last season, Perry carried the ball 79 times for 646-yards and seven TD’s. Now, Perry has had an entire offseason and preseason to prepare his game.

Abey will also still be on the field helping to keep the clock moving and take some of the attention away from Perry. Abey, who rushed for 1,413-yards last season (second most rushing yards in a season in school history) is now listed at #1 on the WR depth chart. Coach Ken has said all summer that Abey will see some time at QB, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations. With the creativity of offensive coordinator Ivan Jasper, expect Abey and Perry to see plenty of opportunities to move the ball against Hawai’i.

Make sure to follow Shellback Sports on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ShellBackSports all season long for complete coverage of Navy football.

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About the Author - Kevin Chaney, Jr

Kevin Chaney covers sports all at all levels throughout Anne Arundel County. Follow him on twitter @Kchaneysports and his website www.Shellbacksports.com

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