They became close as teammates at West Catholic High School, so Jake Zuzek and Raymond Maples check in on each other from time to time on Facebook and discuss their current lives and football.
Given the fact that Zuzek is a sophomore guard at Navy and Maples is a junior running back at Army, one might think their latest social-media conversations have featured some good-natured ribbing, especially with the Army-Navy game coming up on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ah, not the case.
"We don't get to talk often because we both have very busy schedules with the military and football and school and stuff like that," Zuzek said Wednesday. "But we keep in touch. We've talked [recently] just to see how we're doing, not really talking trash to each other."
Maples said he'd like to beat Zuzek's team this season just to break a 10-game losing streak by Army to the Midshipmen. But he is happy for his friend's success.
"I'm thrilled that Jake is starting and that he's going to get to go to a bowl game," Maples said, referring to the Dec. 29 Fight Hunger Bowl. "I think it means a lot to both of us."
Zuzek cleared the way for Maples for three years, helping him gain more than 2,500 yards for his career at West Catholic. Now that they're on opposite sidelines for one of the most prominent games in college football, the school is excited, as is their former coach, Brian Fluck.
"It's such a prestigious game," Fluck said. "It would give me a little bit of the chills if I saw them walking on the field and playing against each other. It's a game that everybody looks at and talks about the whole season.
"The people here [at West Catholic] are asking each other if they're going to the game, and trying to get tickets. It's really a big deal. I don't know how many people can say you have two players from the same high school playing in this type of game."
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Maples has received plenty of recognition this season, gaining 1,059 yards on the ground for the nation's top rushing team and averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He is just the third player in Army history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
As a blocker, the 318-pound Zuzek doesn't get nearly that type of attention. That did change, however, for about a week back in October when he scored the winning touchdown in overtime against Air Force on the recovery of a fumble by quarterback Keenan Reynolds in the end zone.
"I go to block the guy in front of me, and I'm heading toward the ground, and all of a sudden the ball is right in front of my face mask," Zuzek said. "I just grabbed it, and I wasn't letting it go for anything."
Both players will have many family members and friends at the game. But each player sports immeasurable pride knowing they'll be representing their high school not too far away from where they'll be competing.
"I believe our ability to play in this game, the only game that's going to be on on Saturday with probably millions of viewers, means a lot for our program at West Catholic," Maples said.
The Philadelphia Sports Congress said a limited number of standing room tickets have been made available for the game.
Tickets cost $45 each and are available through Ticketmaster. Active duty military personnel will receive a $10 discount by showing military identification at the Lincoln Financial Field box office Friday and Saturday as availability permits.