Navy Sprint Football Hosts HCM in Successful Goodwill Venture
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- During the weekend of Dec. 1-4, the Navy sprint football team played host to the Mexican military academy, Heroico Colegio Militar (HCM) for a series of cultural immersion activities with the centerpiece being a gridiron contest on Friday night, Dec. 2 at Rip Miller Field.
For the second straight year the two service academies shared a weekend of football and international goodwill as in 2015, the Navy program travelled down to Mexico City. The inaugural game at HCM marked the first time in sprint football's storied 70-year history that the team had engaged in an international competition.
"The weekend with the HCM Cadets was an awesome experience," remarked junior running back Mac Lavis. "After going down to Mexico City last year and to see how hard they work, it was great to reverse the roles and show them what we do up here. They rolled out the ultimate red carpet for us last year so it was very important to everyone on our team to ensure we gave them the greatest weekend possible.
"It was great to see some familiar faces when they got to the academy on Thursday night. The two teams meshed almost immediately. It was a little tricky with the language barrier but overall we could communicate pretty well with them. The way we operate here at Annapolis is very different from what they do down there and it was cool to see them so fascinated with what we do on a day-to-day basis."
After the Mids defeated the Aguiluchos on the road in 2015, a standing-room only crowd at Rip Miller Field was treated to another patriotic and hard-fought game between the two squads on Dec. 2. On the strength of five touchdowns, Navy was victorious over HCM by a score of 34-0.
Pregame sights: Both the Mexican and American National Anthems were performed
In true exhibition style, the entire rosters of both teams played in the contest with 10 players receiving offensive stats and 20 recording at least one tackle or pass break-ups on defense. All-around performer Brendon Clements (Sr., Miami, Fla.) led the way amongst Navy standout individual performers as he had a game-high 134 all-purpose yards, in addition to a six-yard touchdown run and a 74-yard kickoff return for a score. The Mids' leading rusher was Lavis (Jr., Orinda, Calif.) with 30 yards and a touchdown, while their leading receiver was JT Thompson (Fr., Stratham, N.H.) with 28 yards and a touchdown. Jon Saadey (Fr., Canfield, Ohio) took the majority of snaps at quarterback and went 9-14 for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Blake Papet (Sr., Forest, Va.) and Alex Oldham (Jr., Dayton, Ohio) each tallied four tackles, while Drew Dziwulski (Sr., Woodbine, Md.), Chuck Winston (Fr., Phoenix, Ariz.) and Jakob Wallentine (So., Springfield, Mo.) all forced turnovers with the latter Midshipmen notching an interception.
"In regards to the game, it was awesome to strap on the pads one more time in front of a home crowd over on Rip Miller," remarked Lavis. "It was such a special experience to get to play over there where Sprint Football first started. The Cadets loved it too. It was a great game and gave us some good points to build on heading into the off season."
Postgame handshakes between the two teams
In addition to the action on the field, the midshipmen hosted their HCM counterparts in Bancroft Hall, attended classes together on that Friday and shared a variety of experiences on the Yard.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, the programs ventured off the grounds and travelled to Washington, D.C. to tour the historic attractions and famous government landmarks. After the trip into Washington, both teams were treated to action at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium as Navy's NCAA football team faced off against Temple in the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship Game.
"The best part of the weekend for me was heading into D.C. with the two teams," said Lavis. "Walking from monument to monument and sharing our history with them was something I will never forget. I think that morning helped them understand a lot about our military's background and why we are so proud and passionate about being in the Navy.
"Hopefully our two teams will continue to play each other in the future. I know both sides benefited greatly from the experience."
Navy and HCM at The National Mall.
(Photo credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Brianna Jones)