ANNAPOLIS —- Most of Navy’s football players have never visited Penn State. The Midshipmen last played there in 1974, far before anyone on the current roster was born.
At least one Mid, though, is plenty familiar with the home of the Nittany Lions. He was, in fact, a mainstay at Beaver Stadium for much of his childhood.
Maika Polamalu, a fullback who could see time on Navy’s punt block team, has more than a few Keystone State ties. He grew up in Pottstown, in the eastern part of the state.
His cousin, Troy Polamalu, is a recognizable face on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense in the western portion of the state.
And his dad Aoatoa was a starting defensive tackle on Penn State’s 1986 national title team.
Unsurprisingly, Saturdays in Happy Valley for a childhood staple for Maika Polamalu.
“It was a huge part of my life,” the sophomore said. “We went to every single home game, pretty much, since I was a little kid. My dad was a letterman there. My mom went there. Everyone in my area has dreams of going to Penn State. We had the opportunity to go up there and meet all of his friends. I’ve met almost all of his teammates. Growing up, hearing their stories, watching [Penn State] play.”
Needless to say, the trip to Beaver Stadium is one of the highlights on Navy’s schedule. In their final 10 games, the Mids play only one team that made a bowl game last season.
For Polamalu, Saturday means just a bit more.
“They’re a great team and I’m real excited to get up there and play the game,” Polamalu said. “I’m real excited to get back there, get back to that area and play in that stadium. This game, I’ve been looking forward to like it’s my Super Bowl.”
—- Patrick Stevens