Running back Raymond Maples faced conflicting emotions Saturday after a tense Army-Navy game that ended in disappointment for his team.
The junior for the Black Knights, a graduate of West Catholic, was thrilled to play such a prestigious game in front of family and friends in his hometown. He was proud to shake hands and speak briefly afterward with former high school teammate Jake Zuzek, a guard for the Midshipmen.
But Army's 17-13 loss hurt. Although Maples rushed for a game-high 156 yards on 27 carries, he lost a second-quarter fumble at the Navy 38 after catching a pass from Trent Steelman, and the Mids converted the turnover into their first touchdown.
"I had a good day, but I also had a turnover, and that hurt us," Maples said. "In games like this, every turnover, every yard counts. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn't turned the ball over? I had over 100 yards, but I'll remember that fumble I had."
Maples ended the season with 1,215 yards, a vital contribution for a team that set an academy record with 4,438 rushing yards. He and Steelman became Army's most productive rushing tandem ever, combining for 2,463 yards.
Maples said he was proud to have two players on the field at the Linc representing West Catholic. Of Zuzek, he said, "I have mad respect for the kid."
He said the two "spoke a couple of words but not too many."
As for the finish, Maples said, "It hurts, not just because we've been practicing and practicing. Every year it feels like we're getting closer, but we just can't capitalize at the end. Honestly, I think that's what it comes down to, capitalizing at the end."