Jarrett Mackey knows the pageantry well.
The Brookwood grad has soaked up four years of the Army-Navy rivalry from the sidelines, three as an active participant and one as a spectator thanks to a season-ending knee injury. Each Army game has its traditions, but the finale against Navy means another level.
Today’s matchup in Philadelphia will be no different for the Army senior defensive end, who was voted a legacy team captain by his teammates for the second straight season. He will be part of a historic coin flip that features a silver dollar that John F. Kennedy would have used at the 1963 Army-Navy game, but he was assassinated eight days before the game.
“You can’t put it into words,” Mackey said of the Army-Navy game. “It’s one of those games you’ll always remember, whether you play or don’t play. This is my fifth one and I remember every single play. You put their season aside, you put our season aside. It’s just 22 people on the field at the same time going at it for the love of the game. We’re not going to the NFL.
“We’re playing for the veterans, for those in active service, for those in the reserves, for those who are retired, for people deployed all over the world. They’re all cheering for us.”
Across the field from Mackey today, two Gwinnett grads will get their first glimpse of the game’s traditions.
Mountain View grad William Tuider, a true freshman, is one of Navy’s top linebackers and fellow freshman Cam Henson, a Brookwood grad who spent the 2012 season at the Navy Prep School, is a reserve defensive lineman for the Midshipmen.
“Just the hype about this game is crazy,” Tuider said. “We’re just trying to stay focused. Coach puts a lot of emphasis on preparation and not buying into the hype of everything.”
That plan has worked out well of late for Navy, which has a series-best 11-game winning streak going against Army. That means Mackey doesn’t have a Navy win to his credit, and neither do many of his predecessors.
It’s a streak he hopes to end this weekend, even though Army, 3-8 and on a four-game losing streak, is the underdog again vs. Navy, which is 7-4 and bowl bound. The Midshipmen, who already have a 28-10 win over rival Air Force, can secure their ninth Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy in 11 seasons with a win over Army.
“To end your last season with a win over your rival, that would be the best feeling to have,” Mackey said. “It’s like at Brookwood when we used to beat Parkview, it’s a great feeling. Just to rally around your brothers. You never forget it.”
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Mackey has 45 tackles (2.5 for losses) and two sacks this season, contributing on defense much like another Gwinnett grad has in his first college season.
Tuider has 32 tackles (four for losses) and two sacks, playing in all 11 games.
“Our defensive coordinator, I knew he gives young guys a chance to play,” Tuider said. “That was one of the reasons I came here. I just worked hard and I’ve gotten a little PT. … Everything’s much faster in college. I did alright this season. I got my feet wet. I don’t feel like I made a huge impact, but I’ve got three more years to do that.”
While Tuider and Henson have three more years in the rivalry, it’s the last chance — and last football game — for Mackey.
After he graduates from West Point on Friday, Mackey is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He gets a few weeks of leave, then reports for Officers Basic Leadership Course in Fort Lee, Va., where he will spend four to five months.
From there, he will be stationed in Savannah for the following two to three years. His focus is a branch quartermaster, working in logistics and supplies.
Meanwhile, Tuider and Henson are just beginning their military school journey. After today’s game finishes, their next mission is the Dec. 30 Armed Forces Bowl against Middle Tennessee.
“I’ve never been to Texas,” Tuider said. “That’s going to be real nice.”
Williams wins prestigious Tide honor
Alabama fifth-year senior and Brookwood grad Kellen Williams received a prestigious honor last Sunday at the Crimson Tide’s annual football banquet.
The offensive lineman, who finishes college with three national championship rings, was given the Pat Trammel Award, which goes to “a senior player whose character and contributions to the team most personify the all-American youth of today and has reflected qualities of integrity, character, importance of academics and inspirational leadership.”
Williams and Deion Belue were the only two Alabama players to get the award this year.
Mountain View grad William Wright, who just finished his playing career at West Georgia, stood out in last weekend’s National Bowl, a showcase for NFL football prospects.
Wright started and earned lineman MVP honors in the four-year-old event. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive guard also will compete alongside SEC players in the upcoming USA Football Bowl Festival in Hoover, Ala.
Central Florida freshman point guard Brandon Goodwin stepped up with his best college game to date in the Knights’ 77-58 win over Stetson.
The Norcross grad had 11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals. He played all but one minute in the second half, when Central Florida outscored Stetson 38-24.
“I am really proud of him,” UCF head coach Donnie Jones said of Goodwin. “He has been one of the hardest-working kids in our program. He is a young man who has really improved and is learning the system. He plays with great energy. He came in and gave us an incredible lift. I thought he was really comfortable out there. I thought he really ran the show, played unselfish and really got our guys going.”
Prior to Saturday’s game, Goodwin had just nine points and six rebounds in 62 minutes this season.
Buford grad Blanche Alverson, who completed her college career earlier this year, has been given the Leah Rawls Atkins Award, Auburn University’s highest award for athletics.
It is presented in honor of Atkins, a noted Alabama historian, world champion water skier and the first woman in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. It goes annually to a senior student-athlete who, “in addition to athletic and scholarship achievement, exhibits in great degree the qualities of leadership, integrity and courage.
“I am so honored to receive the Leah Rawls Atkins Award,” said Alverson, who graduated in May with a biomedical sciences degree and currently plays pro basketball for CD Zamarat in Zamora, Spain. “To be included in such a prestigious group of past recipients is very humbling.”
Alverson was chosen for Auburn University’s Miss Homecoming in 2012, and was the first student-athlete to win the honor. In 2012 and 2013 she was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the first Auburn women’s basketball player to earn the honor. She was also named to the 2013 SEC Community Service Team and to the inaugural WBCA Good Works Team.
Alverson ranks second all-time for 3-point field goals made (213) and 3-point field goals attempted (618). She ranks 18th all-time at Auburn in career scoring with 1,244 points and is 19th in rebounding with 602. She was also only the fourth player in Auburn’s history to notch 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 steals and 50 blocks in her career.
Reinhardt’s Krista Barikos, a Brookwood grad, was named to the NAIA Women’s Soccer All-America Honorable Mention team late Thursday.
Barikos was named the Appalachian Athletic Conference Player of the Year after leading the Eagles to an undefeated record in AAC play (8-0-2). She led the Eagles to the finals of the AAC Championship, but eight minutes into the final, she went down with an injury that ended her season.
“Krista is a very skillful player,” said Reinhardt head coach Andy Kaplan. “She was sorely missed on the field in our game in the national tournament. Still, for her to receive this kind of recognition nationally is a testament to her abilities on the field. She was a very special player for us in the midfield.”
The Southern Athletic Association honored its all-sportsmanship teams for each sport this week and three Gwinnett products were selected based on their sportsmanship and fair play.
Dacula’s Josh Bullock, a freshman at Berry College, was honored in football and two former Gwinnett cross country runners were selected — Oglethorpe junior Robert Estock (Parkview) and Oglethorpe freshman Shanice Chesney (Brookwood).
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.