Navy Set to Host East Carolina for Senior Day
by Diane Roberts
The Navy Midshipmen are looking at the final three games of the season: two in the American Conference and, of course, America's game in three weeks against Army ... but the 2-7 2021 campaign, thus far, is disappointing all around for the players and coaches alike, and the focus for this week is to finish strong at home for the seniors.
Out of contention for a conference title and assured of a losing season, the Mids are looking to show up strong in the final three weeks of 2021. First on the calendar is their final home game of the year, against East Carolina, and the traditional "Senior Day."
"When you realize the finality of playing your last game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, I think it's really emotional for these players," Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo said, "Our program is built on developing and the seniors are the leaders, and this has been as good a class, like I said, as leaders, that I've ever been around."
Niumatalolo points to the leadership of his senior Co-Captains, linebacker Diego Fagot who leads the team in tackles, safety Kevin Brennan, whose season was cut short with injury and who underwent surgery last week, receiver Mychal Copper, the "Captain of the Captains" at the Naval Academy, and Chance Warren, the all-purpose back who has done it all this year, rushing, receiving, and returning kicks.
It's their resilience that impresses Coach Niumatalolo, despite the disappointing season.
"This group of seniors," Niumatalolo said, "I've just been so impressed with them. You know, it's hard as a coach, you can't be down when you come on the field and see these guys running around."
And what will it be like stepping on the home turf for the final time?
"It's going to be an emotional day for me, I know," Warren, the senior slot back said. "But I know I'm going to miss playing at our home field. It's a rush. You feel the love and praise and the crowd oozing over from the stands. It's a dream come true every week."
The ECU Pirates are 6-4 on the season and are coming off an overtime win against Memphis, which made them bowl-eligible. The Pirates feature a potent offense behind running back Keaton Mitchell who's nearing one thousand yards on the season, and quarterback Holton Ahlers who passed for 313 yards last week. Ahlers's favorite target, wide-out Tyler Snead, caught 13 passes against Memphis.
But, the task at hand for the Midshipmen is simple: win one more at home for the seniors.
"None of us have blinked, none of us has batted an eye," Warren said. "We're looking to finish the season 3-0, so that's what I love the most about this team."
"Hopefully we can send them out the right way and finish strong."
edited for web by Joe Harman