Forget Air Force’s conference matchup with BYU or Navy’s attempt to lick its wounds against Georgia Southern after getting upset by the Maryland Kenny Tates. There is a cup to be won Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in New London, Conn.
First, we’d like to thank Bill, a loyal reader, for the reminder. This Saturday, the Coast Guard Academy and Merchant Marine Academy will play in their 39th meeting for the right to own the Secretaries’ Cup.
If this year’s meeting is anything like last year’s, get in your car and drive up to New London now or plan to huddle around your television to watch on Al Gore’s invention.
The Merchant Marine Mariners took home last year’s cup in a nail biter, winning 33-27 in double overtime. Coast Guard tied the game with 1:29 left in regulation with a touchdown and two-point conversion, but lost after missing a field goal with 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Coasties won the first-ever Secretary’s Cup. Yes, that’s not a typo. Secretary was singular while the Coasties and Merchant Marines fell under the Department of Transportation. Once the Coast Guard fell under the beacon of bureaucracy (i.e. the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) in 2003, the cup was forever pluralized. Although the Coast Guard won the first meeting in 1949, it was the last time they led the series. The Mariners lead the series 26-12.
It falls to Coast Guard’s trio of quarterbacks to reclaim the cup Saturday. Senior Jesse Karr is in a fight for the starting spot with three other quarterbacks who have taken collegiate snaps. Karr threw for 1,640 yards last year and earned New England Football Conference second team honors.
The Secretaries’ Cup is Coast Guard’s season opener. Not so for the Mariners. Merchant Marine edged Galludet last weekend 35-34 on a last second 11-yard touchdown catch by freshman wide receiver Chaise Dunn. If the Coasties hope to reclaim the cup, they will have to slow down senior running back Karl Heimbrock who ran for 155 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Mariners season opener.
Coast Guard will have home field advantage this year for the first time since 2007. Last year’s game was played on the Mariners home field to avoid having the Merchant Marines open their season with three straight home games.
However, there is something to be said about getting the kinks worked out in a season opener. The Mariners had that luxury last Saturday, Coast Guard did not, so they will inevitably be a bit rusty.
Here at After Action, we’ll take experience and home field advantage and say Coast Guard wins this week. The Coasties took the Mariners to two overtimes last year without having one quarterback on the roster with any collegiate experience. This year they have three and reclaim the Secretaries’ Cup.
Prediction: Coasties 30, Mariners 28