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Army Black Knights Start Season in California

Ken KraetzerCorrespondent IIOctober 11, 2016

Army Black Knights Start Season in California

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    The Black Knights opened the season feeling optimistic about their prospects to return to winning football and a second bowl appearance in two years.  They have seven home games at historic Michie Stadium, where they won three of four contests last year, including a win over Northwestern of the Big Ten.

    To open the season, the team, Academy officials, band and cheerleaders traveled across the country to Southern California to play at San Diego State.  A large group of West Coast alumni joined them for the game, a rare opportunity to see the team play in this part of the country.

    The game was a rematch of one played last year at West Point, which came down to a field goal in the final minutes.  Army thought they had outplayed the visitors that day and looked forward to another opportunity.

    The result was disappointing to the team and its followers, a 42-7 win by the Aztecs.  Army struggled with turnovers and containing the high-powered Aztec offense.

QualComm Stadium

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    The Black Knights played San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the Chargers and once the baseball field for the Padres when the park was named Jack Murphy Stadium. 

Meeting a Soldier

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    Children and adults have a chance to meet a U.S. Army soldier before the game.

Color Guard Presentation

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    Color Guard presents National Colors before the start of a game. 

Army Takes the Field for 2012 Season

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    Army took the field playing a more experienced lineup than in past years.

Coach Ellerson Prepares Team

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    First game of the year is a test for every team. Prior to kickoff is a nervous time for both players and coaches.

    Coach's job before a game is to keep players calm but focused.  Often, the words you hear are:

    "Just play like we practiced."

    It is still different flying across the country and playing in an NFL stadium in front of 30,000 fans and a nationally televised audience.

    As Coach Ellerson says,

    "It is a big stage."

Army Fullback Larry Dixon

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    Larry Dixon began to start as a freshman at fullback in mid-2011, when 1,000-yard runner Jared Hassin was slowed by injuries.

Senior Defensive Back Kyler Martin

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    For senior Kyler Martin, a native of Vacaville, Calif., the game was a homecoming.   Martin had 32 tackles and an interception in 2011.

Homecoming for Angel Santiago

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    The sophomore quarterback started against Rutgers at Yankee Stadium when Trent Steelman was hurt and played extensively against Temple.  He is known for his speed.  The trip to San Diego was a homecoming as well for the native of Fontana, Calif.

Ty Shrader Is the Starting Safety

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    Ty Shrader is a senior defensive back starting at free safety from Stevenson, Ala.  Shrader had 10 tackles in 12 games in 2011.

Wide Receiver Robert Wright

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    No. 85 Robert Wright is a junior from Greenville, Tenn., pushing for time as a wideout.

Army Hopes for a Bowl Game in 2012

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    Army goes into the season optimistic about improving on its record of 3-9 in 2011.  Last year, they played 19 freshmen (mostly on the defense), and they now have a year of Division I experience. 

    With a winning record, they will be invited to play on December 27th in Washington D.C. in the Military Bowl game.

Final Instructions Before Kickoff

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    One of the cheers the Army team often makes in its huddles is:

    "Sing Second!"

    It is a tradition after Army games to sing the alma mater.  At the Air Force and Navy games, both alma maters are sung by the players in front of their fellow cadets or midshipmen.  The team that loses sings first and the winning team second. 

    It is a season-long goal and life-time happy memory to "Sing Second" after these games. 

Aztecs Get out to an Early Lead

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    San Diego State scored two first-quarter touchdowns, both on running plays by Walter Kazee and Adam Dingwell.

Ray Maples and Trent Steelman

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    The Army offense is led by senior quarterback Trent Steelman, from Bowling Green, Ky.  He started every game for Army since his freshman year until injuries caused him to miss two full games last year.

    Ray Maples is a junior from Philadelphia who ran for 1,066 yards and four touchdowns in 2011.

Coaches Settle Down Army Defense

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    Trent Steelman throws an interception in the second quarter, which SDSU converts into a touchdown.  The coaches try to settle down the defense, which was faced with playing the very big offensive line of the Aztecs.

Army Cadet Band on Hand

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    The Army Cadet Band plays the unforgettable Army music, such as: "On Brave Old Army Team," "The Army Goes Rolling Along" and "Army Strong."

Faces of Army Players

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    The second half did not start much better for Army.  SDSU scored twice early in the second half to take a 35-0 lead with 7:44 to go in the third quarter.

Steelman and Center Will Wilson Struggle

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    Senior Will Wilson, at 290 pounds, is the biggest player on the Black Knights.  He loves to block and help lead the running attack.  Although Wilson and Steelman have played together since their days at the U.S. Army Prep School, they struggled against SDSU with exchanges and timing.

    The Black Knights finally get on the scoreboard on a 10-yard run by sophomore Terry Baggett from Chicago with 5:54 left in the third quarter. 

Geoffrey Bacon Plays the Middle of the Defense

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    Sophomore Geoffrey Bacon (No. 6) plays the middle linebacker spot for Army.  The Milwaukee, Wis. native was third on the team in tackles in 2011 with an interception and fumble recovery. 

Army Defense Tries to Slow Down Aztecs

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    On the right side of the defense is No. 29, junior Thomas Holloway, the second-leading Army tackler in 2011, and No. 28, senior Justin Allen, on the corner.

    For the contest, San Diego State out-gained Army 443 to 282 and the Aztecs benefited from three Army turnovers.

A Long Trip for Army, This Saturday a Home Game

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    The 42-7 opening loss must be put aside by the players and coaches after the long flight home Sunday morning.

    All focus shifts to facing a very good Northern Illinois team Saturday at Michie Stadium at West Point.

    Northern Illinois comes in having won the Mid-American Conference championship in 2011 against Ohio and the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Arkansas State.

    It will be another challenge for Army, but they play well defending the home turf of Blaik Field.

    Kickoff is 12 p.m. ET on Saturday.

    Many thanks to California based photographer Todd Arnett for taking these photos capturing some of faces of the Army players, coaches and Cadets at the game. 

    Today the Cadets play football and cheer at the games, in future years they deal often first hand with the issues on the front page of the newspaper.  

     

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