Posted on: Friday, November 21, 2003
Winless Knights seek first victory of season
|||2003 UH football schedule|
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
|Eight-year-old Steven Stroker had defensive end Karl Davis add his name to a shirt already filled with names of other names of Army football players during a practice session yesterday at Schofield Barracks.
Richard Ambo The Honolulu Advertiser
To be sure, tomorrow's football game between Army formally known as the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. and the University of Hawai'i will be somewhat unique.
This is the first time Army will play UH in the 113-year history of the academy's football program.
The 13 miles between Aloha Stadium and Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa will be the shortest distance the Knights have played an NCAA game from an Army division.
The historic meeting has drawn wide interest from Hawai'i's military community. More than 5,000 military personnel and dependents are expected to attend tomorrow's game.
The Knights' 90-minute practice on the makeshift football field also created a buzz yesterday, with the Army fatigues unable to camouflage the glee of the 30 officers in attendance.
One officer held up a sign, "Aloha, Army." Col. Charles N. Cardinal, chief of staff of the 25th Infantry and former Knight defensive tackle, showed off his old technique by going into a four-point stance.
In 1984, the Knights played Montana in the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, "but this is the first time they've come to our aloha state," said Cardinal, a 1975 graduate. "It's a big deal."
Cardinal marveled at Army's 6-foot-6 wideouts Aaron Alexander and Clint Woody, noting, "They're a lot taller and bigger than I remember. ... I couldn't even carry their water jugs for these guys right now."
Maj. Greg Gadson, operations officer of the division's artillery unit, played for the Knights in the 1980s. Although he considers himself a UH fan, attending nearly every home game, "I'm rooting for Army, of course. No doubt. ... The long gray line, I guess."
As America's team, Army has a fan base in nearly every road city. The Knights were greeted with lei and a marching band after arriving at Hickam Air Force Base Wednesday evening. Even at 0-11, Capt. Steve Carpenter noted of his alma mater, "the guys give 100 percent all of the time. Army is not a team where you get the best athletes, but what you can do is produce a good team because the guys play together and have no attitudes."
Army coach John Mumford said: "Our players are honored to come here and represent the soldiers. They want to do well, not only for the soldiers here but the soldiers deployed all over the world. That's who we represent."
Earning a berth at West Point in general and the football team in particularly is not easy. West Point, with an enrollment of 4,000, accepts 1,000 freshmen each year. With as many as 13,000 applicants annually, West Point's admission policy was rated as one of the most difficult in the country by the Princeton Review. UH coach June Jones was not far off when he said, "just because you want to go there, you're not getting in. They choose you. These kids are special."
Applicants probably need a score of 1,300 on the SAT, for starters, as well as to excel in several areas, including academics, athletics, leadership and community service. It does not take an act of Congress to earn admission just a written recommendation from a senator, representative or high-ranking military official.
No wonder the alumni roll could be found in a history textbook: Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Omar Bradley, Dwight D. Eisenhower, H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
"When you look at West Point, every part of it is greatness," said Alexander, the receiver. "You just want to be a part of it."
Woody, the other starting receiver, said: "It's a little overwhelming sometimes to think some of your classmates could be a future general or leader."
Mumford, who is not in the military, described his players as "the cream of the crop of our country. They are highly intelligent men and highly driven young men. They have such a heavy academic schedule. Sleep is a premium at our school. We have to fight that a little bit, but other than that, they're wonderful to work with."
In fact, Mumford acknowledged the inverted pressure of coaching future leaders.
"That is a burden for us," he said. "We don't want to let them down."
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com or 525-8051.
2003 UH FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
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