Setting the Scene…The most anticipated game of every USMMA football season is here as the Mariners clash with rival Coast Guard for the Secretaries' Cup tomorrow afternoon in New London, CT. The battle of service academies always features an electric atmosphere as all Midshipmen and Cadets are in attendance. The rivalry takes up the entire afternoon as USMMA and USCGA will also battle it out on the soccer field and the volleyball court on Saturday. Merchant Marine will need to bounce from an opening week 37-21 loss at the hands of Susquehanna in which there were five lead changes in the second half. Conversely, the marquis match-up will serve as the 2012 opener for the host Bears as they come off of a 2-7 campaign in which they lost five games by seven points or less.
View From the "Toop"… Check out the weekly video preview with Merchant Marine Head Coach Mike Toop as he discusses the Mariners' huge week two contest:
Series History... USMMA leads the all-time series with Coast Guard, 27-13, including a 35-28 victory last season to reclaim the Secretaries' Cup after a 2010 defeat. In the 2011 showdown the Mariners overcame a pair of double-digit deficits, making a late charge, to pick up the win. Merchant Marine leads the "Competition for the Cup", which began in 1981, 20-11. The Mariners have been especially dominant in the series in recent memory, posting an 11-3 record since 1998.
- The Mariners racked up 299 yards of total offense in its season opener against Susquehanna, including 224 on the ground.
- The USMMA special teams accounted for the first points of the 2012 season as Michael Biehn (The Woodlands, TX) scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
- Zachary Boucher (Wyckoff, NJ) totaled 86 rushing yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry in his first game as a Mariner.
- Freshman Skyler Stone (Glen Allen, VA) stepped in front of a Crusaders' pass attempt in the first half to record his first career interception.
Scouting the Bears... The Bears were picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll for the Bogan Division of the New England Football Conference (NEFC), as chosen in a vote of the league's head coaches. Last season, Coast Guard lost five games by seven points or less, four of those in the final minute. Head coach Bill George, in his 14th season, returns 16 starters from that team, seven on offense and nine on defense. Junior Tyler Hames had a break out year last season and is back at running back. He led the team with 683 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns last season while also catching 32 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
Around the Liberty League... Six of the conference's eight teams kicked-off the 2012 season last week but only two secured its first victory. Defending league champion Hobart routed Dickinson, 31-0, while WPI picked up a 17-7 triumph over Curry. Rochester and RPI are both set to open their season this week while the remainder of the league's contingent continues its drive to crack the win column.
Up Next... The Mariners will play their first home game of 2012 next week as they host SUNY Maritime on Saturday. USMMA's clash with Privateers is set for 2:30 PM at Brooks Stadium on Acceptance Day.