Crab cakes and football, that’s what Maryland does! That particular scene in hit 2005 movie Wedding Crashers perfectly showcases the culture of football in the state. In addition, this state is where current Navy starting quarterback Zach Abey has spent his entire football-playing career.
If anyone knows about football in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA for short), they know that it is hard-nosed. Abey came from this league, playing for the Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers, a school located in Severn, MD.
In this private high school league, players often boast college-ready size and many of them go on to play for Division I football programs. Abey was no different.
Standing in at 6’3”, 205 lbs, Abey certainly looked the part while in high school. He was a rugby player and a wrestler, in addition to playing football at Spalding. Abey excelled on the mat, becoming a two-time All-MIAA conference wrestler and winning the conference championship in 2013.
While playing football for the Cavs as a senior during the 2013-14 season, Abey received high accolades. He was named to the All-MIAA conference team, named First-Team All-State in Maryland, First-Team All-Metro (Baltimore area), as well as being named the Baltimore Sun Player of the Year and the Capital Gazette Player of the Year.
Before making his final decision on where to go for college, Abey was offered a scholarship by the Buffalo Bulls. He gave them his commitment, but he felt that in his heart of hearts, the Naval Academy would be his school of choice if they offered him.
“All of my life living near the Academy it's been a dream of mine to play for Navy,” said Abey when speaking with USA Today back in December. “When they offered me it was something I couldn't pass up. And I look forward to having a military career.”
Spalding is approximately 22 minutes from the Naval Academy. For a young man who grew up in nearby Pasadena, which is also located in Anne Arundel County, this was just an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up on.
Abey would go on to the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island to follow his dream. Then as a sophomore at the Naval Academy in 2016, Abey got his chance to play on the big stage.
Starting quarterback Will Worth went down with a foot injury against the Temple Owls in the American Athletic Conference Championship. Abey filled in, but the Midshipmen would go down in defeat, 34-10. The following week would be an even larger spotlight, the Army-Navy Game.
In the Army-Navy Game, Abey threw two first half interceptions. However, he would settle down and rush for a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Despite his late-game heroics, the Midshipmen would lose 21-14.
The final game of the season would come against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Abey passed for 159 yards and rushed for 114 yards and was chosen as Navy’s Most Valuable player of the game in the dramatic 48-45 loss.
After losing in three straight games to close out the season, Abey will be determined to get his first career win as the starting quarterback for Navy. On heart and determination alone, Abey can do it. He has shown in the past that he is willing to grind and claw his way to victory.
That’s what being a Midshipman is all about.