Plenty at stake for Army, Navy
PHILADELPHIA — Army's Jarrett Mackey hears the same order each day he walks around the barracks at West Point.
Beat Navy and bring home the coveted Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
“Every single time I pass them, it's, ‘Army-Navy. CIC. Let's go,' ” Mackey said. “I wouldn't say it puts more pressure on us, but it's time. Let's do this. We almost need to do it. We've got to get out there and get the win. It's been way too long.”
Try 11 years.
The Army-Navy series is not only the most patriotic rivalry in sports, it's turned into one of the most one-sided. Navy has won 10 straight, doubling the previous winning streak of either team in a series that stretches back to 1890. It only seems like the Black Knights haven't won in 122 years. Army last beat Navy in 2001 at Veterans Stadium. The Vet has since been toppled.
So has Army's all-time lead in the series.
Mackey, a junior defensive end, wants so badly to be part of the class that ends the Middies' dominance. That alone is incentive enough. But for the first time in nearly two decades, there is more on the line than just bragging rights.
Winning this game usually makes a season, but this one would mean more than most. The winner Saturday leaves Lincoln Financial Field with the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, awarded to the team with the best record in games among the three service academies. Army and Navy each defeated Air Force, putting the prestigious trophy up for grabs in the regular-season finale for the first time since 2005. Army (2-9) hasn't hoisted the CIC trophy since 1996. Navy (7-4) won it a school-record seven straight seasons through 2009 before giving way Air Force the past two seasons.
“We didn't win much, but we won just enough to bring a little extra drama to this game,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said. “From the moment these guys got to West Point, every building and everybody's front door says, ‘Beat Navy' and ‘Beat Air Force.' There is so much on the table for them.”
Beating Army has become an annual tradition for Navy. None of the Mids want to be associated with a team that ended the streak.
“They're getting closer and closer,” Navy linebacker Brye French said. “The 10 wins have been awesome. But this year is even bigger than all those because it actually means something with the CIC.”
Navy's 27-21 win last season was the tightest margin since the winning streak started. The Mids won by a combined 74-3 score in 2007-08, and four times over the last decade the Black Knights failed to score more than six points. Army lost its 49-46-7 series lead during this decade of futility.