On March 9th, West Point took their spring game down south to Ft. Benning, Georgia, home of the huge Army Infantry branch. A team from the CBS Sports Network went along to film the event.
Resulting from the day is a 60-minute documentary that will air on Saturday April 14th, at 8 PM. Viewers will have a chance to follow the day with the Army team as they tour the base and take part in events with soldiers. The day included a tour of the "National Infantry Museum" and attendance of the Army Basic Training graduation ceremony.
Then you can follow the action, as the Black Knights play a simulated game held in a festival-like atmosphere at the base's "Doughboy Stadium" built to honor those who served in World War One.
For the West Point players, especially the younger players who have not yet participated in summer training at an Army base, it was a chance to spend an overnight visit to a major active Army base. They had a chance to get a feel of the "Big Army", the type of base and activity the players will serve in after graduation from the Academy. The traveling party even flew to Georgia in a C-17 military transport, the same type of plane which flies soldiers and equipment to deployment zones.
For several thousand soldiers at the base and their families it was a day to come out and see the West Point players on the field in a simulated game. The players were divided up into two teams representing the Infantry and Armor branches of the Army, which are headquartered at the base.
Not surprisingly, the host base commander, Major General Robert B. Brown, is a 1981 USMA graduate. Among the guests on hand for the day was 1976 West Point graduate General Raymond T. Odierno, the Chief of Staff of the Army. We saw General Odierno last year walking the sidelines at the Army-Navy game encouraging his team. The Black Knight football team is certainly very visible to the Army leadership.
On a post-game conference call, Army head football coach, Rich Ellerson described the trip to Fort Benning as,
"Spectacular, better than we expected, it felt like a football game!"
Many of the first team did not play including starting quarterback Trent Steelman. Army should again be strong on offense with many of the key players back from the 2011 team that rushed for an average of 346 yards per game.
Freshman Angel Santiago led the Armor offense at QB and continued to show speed in running the ball that he demonstrated last fall filling in for Steelman and in spring drills. Sophomore Gino DeBartolo led the Infantry offense and showed running ability of his own, going 44 yards on the longest play of the day.
A clip of the program can be viewed on-line at http://bit.ly/Hs4PYm.
Channels covering the show on CBS Sports Network include Verizon FiOS Channel 94 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 643 (1643 in HD), via satellite on DirecTV Channel 613 and Dish Network Channel 158.
Ken Kraetzer covers Army football and Iona basketball for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY. His Twitter address is @SAL50NYRadio.