With the 118th meeting between Army and Navy just days away, Navy football head coach Ken Niumatalolo said he hadn't given much thought to last year's loss to The Black Knights.
The Midshipmen had won 14 consecutive games against Army before last year's 21-17 setback, but far as Niumatalolo is concerned, this is a new year and an opportunity to begin another winning streak against its archrival.
Army (8-3) and Navy (6-5) will battle Dec. 9 in Philadelphia with even higher stakes -- the winner also earns the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
"It was devastating," Niumatalolo said about last year's defeat. "You never want to lose to your rival. I know the media wants to write about last year's loss and how we feel about it. We're not even thinking about that game. All I'm thinking about is this year."
Players on both teams expect a hard-fought game. Five of the past six Army-Navy games have been decided by one score.
"I don't think there's any more motivation because we lost last year," Navy linebacker D.J. Palmore said during the game's media day. "We always want to beat Army badly no matter what has happened in the past."
Niumatalolo has not named a starting quarterback for the game and hinted that Zach Abey, Garret Lewis and Malcolm Perry could all see action. Each of them has played in games this season and offers a different dynamic to the offense. Abey is the most experienced, and he started against Army last year.
"Right now, all three of them are playing," Niumatalolo said. "They've all been practicing. They're all doing well. They've all got their strengths."
The Black Knights are more set at quarterback with Ahmad Bradshaw, who has run for 1,472 yards and 11 touchdowns on 189 carries. He needs 115 yards to overtake former Navy quarterback Napoleon McCallum as the all-time leading rusher in a single season in service academy history.
Army leads the nation with 368.1 rushing yard per game. In addition to Bradshaw, fullback Darnell Woolfolk has been a force with 668 yards and 11 touchdowns. Slot back Kell Walker has run for 553 yards and six touchdowns, and fullback Andy Davidson has 517 yards.
The Mids are equally adept at running the ball and ranked second nationally behind the Black Knights, averaging 347.5 yards per game. Abey leads the team with 1,322 yards and 14 touchdowns, followed by Perry, who has 818 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Midshipmen are looking bring home their 16th Commander-in-Chief's Trophy after beating Air Force, 48-45, Oct. 7. Army has not won the award since 1996. The Black Knights defeated Air Force, 21-0, Nov. 4.
"It's a championship," Army head coach Jeff Monken said. "Nowhere else in college football do you have a three-team tournament for a championship and a chance to go to the White House to be presented with the trophy."
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