Middies' Santiago sees bright future


POSTED: Sunday, December 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA » The right place at the right time.

For Navy sophomore Aaron Santiago from Kapolei High School, the time to take advantage was evident. Due to injuries on special teams, Santiago was tapped to fill a vital role and responded by earning accolades this season.

The 5-foot-8 167-pounder was named Navy's most valuable special teams player twice this season, with the future looking bright.

“;I've had a good showing, but I always have to keep working and improving,”; he said after Navy's 17-3 win over Army yesterday. “;Yep, this was an opportunity, and I want to take advantage of it.”;

Santiago follows in the productive footsteps of Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Navy's quarterback the past two seasons. The Kapolei graduates stay in touch, as Santiago aspires to play slotback next season.

Seniors Bobby Doyle and Cory Finnerty are one-two on the depth chart, and that could open some doors for Santiago. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo tends to use several players at any one skill position during a game, and with a proper showing in spring and fall training sessions, Santiago could open some eyes.

“;I know my chances are out there”; Santiago said. “;I have a pretty good offseason regimen, and plan to stay at the academy this coming summer. When camp comes, I'll be ready.”;


Games sites selected

In June, the academies awarded venues for the next eight years. Philadelphia, the traditional home of this series, has five of the next eight games. Baltimore was awarded two, and FedEx Field in suburban Washington has the other.

The games for Lincoln Financial Field in Philly are in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

The game yesterday was the 110th in this series, with Philadelphia serving as host 82 times. The estimated 50,000 visitors to Philly was expected to generate $35 million to the local economy.

“;There is really no other place for this game,”; said Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter. “;There is a great partnership between the academies, the city, our sports teams. We consider the game as our own hometown classic.”;

Baltimore will host in 2014 and 2016, while FedEx Field has the game in 2011.


Game notes

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates tossed the coin before the game. ... Navy went scoreless in the opening half for the first time in this series since 1993. ... Ricky Dobbs became the third quarterback in Navy history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He also set an NCAA single-season rushing record for a quarterback with his 24th TD. ... Army ran only four plays in the third quarter for 10 yards. For the game, Army finished with 187 total yards and 110 yards on the ground, both season lows. ... In this series, Army has not scored a touchdown since the 2006 game. ... Black Knights sophomore linebacker Andrew Rodriguez topped Army with a career-high 15 tackles, and this was his third double-figures tackle effort of the season.