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Navy captains come to terms with sitting out against Army

Time:2016-12-11 12:24Shoes websites Click:

Navy football Army-Navy Daniel Gonzales Toneo Gulley

Ken Niumatalolo has been coaching at the Naval Academy for almost two decades. In all that time as an assistant and head coach, Niumatalolo has never seen a season in which so many key players were lost to severe injuries.

For Niumatalolo, the reality of that situation really hit home on Tuesday when he attended the annual Army-Navy press conference. Navy, as always, was represented by its co-captains — Toneo Gulley and Daniel Gonzales. However, the Midshipmen felt compelled to bring two other players to the event since Gonzales and Gulley will not be playing on Saturday after suffering season-ending injuries.

"I introduced our captains at that luncheon and Daniel came limping up to the podium with a boot on his foot while Toneo is having to use a scooter to get around," Niumatalolo said. "It really hurts to not have both of your captains playing in this game."

On Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium, Navy's two fallen captains will make their way out to midfield wearing sweatsuits to meet Army West Point counterparts Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King, hard-hitting linebackers who will be wearing game uniforms.

Will Worth, Toneo Gulley out for season after loss to Temple

Offensive Coordinator Ivin Jasper and Quarterback Will Worth talk about what went wrong in Navy football's loss to Temple at the AAC Championship game on December 3. (Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)

Offensive Coordinator Ivin Jasper and Quarterback Will Worth talk about what went wrong in Navy football's loss to Temple at the AAC Championship game on December 3. (Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)

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While King and Timpf will make a direct impact on the outcome, Gonzales and Gulley can only offer words of encouragement to their teammates.

"It's going to be pretty surreal when I step onto the field on Saturday. This is a game you look forward to every year. It's not like any other game, it's an event," Gonzales said on Tuesday. "It's going to be different seeing it all unfold from the sideline. I haven't done that since I was a freshman. I still need to lead these guys, still need to push them through, still need to help Navy get the win."

Gonzales has become accustomed to this role since he suffered a Lisfranc injury during the Air Force game on Oct. 1. The senior linebacker and defensive captain has spent the two months since helping to coach the inside linebacker at practice while patrolling the sidelines to offer advice during games.

"I tried to think about as if someone else was in my shoes. If I had elected someone as team captain and they got hurt, what would I want or expect out of that individual?" Gonzales said.

Notebook: Navy loses two offensive mainstays on the same play

Notebook: Navy loses two offensive mainstays on the same play

Bill Wagner

Worth and Gulley wind up in the training room at the same time

Worth and Gulley wind up in the training room at the same time (Bill Wagner)

"I knew we had a lot of young players stepping into important roles and they were going to need guidance. What I've tried to help them with the most is the mental side — understanding how to prepare, recognizing the ups and downs of a season and that you can't get too high or too low. I think that's been my biggest contribution to the team this season."

Gulley suddenly finds himself in the same position after also suffering a Lisfranc injury during last Saturday's loss to Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship game. Gulley was asked on Tuesday how he intends to lead from here on out.

"It's just like Gonzo. I've watched him do it ever since the Air Force game. He stepped into the mentor role, the student-coach rule," Gulley said. "That's what I'm planning to do. I need to be there for the team and help prepare the next man to fill my spot."

Gulley has been Navy's best all-around slotback this season, leading that position group in rushing with 427 yards and four touchdowns while also catching four passes for 110 yards and a score. The 5-foot-8, 196-pound senior and offensive captain also plays on multiple special teams and is one of the team's best blockers.

QB Will Worth leads Navy to exciting win over Tulsa on Senior Day

Senior QB Will Worth ran for 3 touchdowns and threw 1 more to help lead his team to a big win over Tulsa on Novermber 12, 2016. (Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)

Senior QB Will Worth ran for 3 touchdowns and threw 1 more to help lead his team to a big win over Tulsa on Novermber 12, 2016. (Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)

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