The landscape of one of the most historic college football rivalries has become noticeably one-sided and for the Army faithful, the arrow continues to point downward as Black Knights attempt to regain some level of parity within this classic Army-Navy annual gridiron game.
For Head Coach Rich Ellerson, he has to get his team to erase last year heartbreaking loss to Navy, along with the dismal 2013 campaign, while for Army Athletic Director Boo Corrigan it's business as usual, but then again it's not and for captain/senior Michael Kime [MoMo], there is no more tomorrow after next Saturday ... at least relative to his football career.
No matter how anyone attempts to defuse it, the last two football seasons have been true disappointments on the West Point campus and couple that with last year's heart breaking loss to the Midshipmen .... well, on December 14th there is so much at stake for the coaching staff, the current players, the program overall and even those of Army football past.
"I'm trying to squelch that," stated Ellerson at today's Army-Navy Press Luncheon held at the West Club at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia when discussing the 2012 loss to Navy and the lasting impact that it has had on his ball club. "There are a lot of back stories to this football game. My message to the guys is that this is the first time these two teams have played. There are some guys on this team and on their team that played in last year's game, but this 2013 has never stepped on the field against this 2013 Navy team. There is a story and a history associated with this game, but that doesn't step out between the white lines. Maybe that can help you in your preparation. Maybe that's part of the culture that has brought you to this point, but when you get to the game, play the game."
"You know, year after year ... is it any bigger than any other year? I don't know about that," declared Corrigan, when asked by GoBlackKnights.com to discuss the importance of next Saturday's contest against the backdrop of Army's dismal season and last year's loss to Navy. "But yeah, it's an important game. It's an important game for Michael Kime, Jarrett Mackey, Thomas Holloway and all of our guys who have a chance to go out on the field on a unique day ... on a day where there are no other college football games. To get out there and compete and represent, and not only the United States Military Academy, but the Army as well."
With an Army football fan base, who are very eager for things to turnaround with the football program, Corrigan offered these sentiments surrounding the current climate and getting the program back on course to being competitive.
"We're going to do the same thing that we have done in the past, which is at the end of the season is to evaluate the team, evaluate the program, evaluate the athletic department, what we're doing in terms of support in order to sat the team up to be part of a winning football tradition ... just as we have in the past."
When asked to discuss in addition pressure that he might be feeling when it comes to the deliverables of the football program, Corrigan was open with saying that pressure is par with the course of being an athletic director.
"Charles [Grevious], you've seen me ... I've got a lot more gray hairs than when I got here, so I feel that [pressure] regardless of what's going on. None of us came here to lose, we all came here to win, to win the right way and find a way to figure this thing out."
However, no one has a more vested interest in winning than the players themselves, as Kime so passionately voiced this afternoon.
"For me personally, it's the last game of my football career so no matter who we are playing I definitely want to win," said the Army football captain. "But you know how much more passionate the emotions are because we are playing Navy."
"But the game is so much bigger than myself and I don't want to just win for my own satisfaction, but I want win for our entire senior class, the entire team and the players from the past ... over a decade who don't know what it's like to beat Navy."
So, what type of imprint does MoMo hope to leave when the dust settles in two-weeks?
"I don't know if you remember two years ago when Steve Erzinger was captain and after the game [Navy] he mentioned the legacy of failure and those words just stuck with me since I was a sophomore," Kime shared.
"When I was elected captain, that was one of the first things I thought about and what kind of imprint am I going to leave on Army football. When Steve said that, he was purely looking at the game and I'm not sure if he understood the impact that he had on me as a captain. I want Steve know that to beat Navy would not only cement our history .. this senior class, but all the classes before because there is no way that I would be able to play or be captain of the team without Steve Erzinger's leadership. So it wouldn't just necessarily just change our legacy, but almost everyone that's has played this game."
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