Former Naval Academy quarterback Ricky Dobbs is seen during a Virginia Cyclones game in April. (Mike Morones/Staff)
Army football fans won’t have to wait until fall to see if they can break their long dry spell in their old rivalry against Navy.
Well, sort of.
With players drawn from former Annapolis and West Point football rosters, the two services will meet June 22 for an arena game at Philadelphia’s 17,000-seat Wells Fargo Center. Other current and former troops will round out the teams.
Organized by the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul, the event is designed to help put a spotlight on veterans’ unemployment.
The game is the brainchild of Soul executive Joe Krause.
“The real intention here is to help veterans gain good employment,” says Krause. The event will include networking opportunities for vets in job hunting.
“And maybe Army football will be able to get out of the weeds they’ve been in, as well,” he says with a laugh. “I know both teams will be looking to claim the title of winning the first-ever Army-Navy arena game.”
In one of football’s most fabled rivalries, Navy has beat Army 11 years in a row.
Among those hoping to turn that into an unofficial 12th win is the Naval Academy’s former star quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who broke Tim Tebow’s record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season when he spiked 27 pigskins in 2009 at Annapolis.
Now a junior officer stationed in Norfolk, Va., Dobbs will be joined on the field by former Navy defensive end Andy Person, who holds both the all-time sack (22) and tackle for a loss (44) records at Annapolis from his four seasons at the Naval Academy in the mid-1990s.
“I actually have dreams about facing off against Army again, so I’m incredibly excited to be part of this,” says Person, now an administrator for Mercy College in New York.
Those dreams may be more like nightmares. His four games against Army ended in losses.
“I’m definitely looking for some redemption in this game,” he says with a laugh. “I need that ‘W.’ ”
Organizers are in discussions with ESPN to air the game, but, if nothing else, fans should be able to watch the game online, Krause says.