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2018 was a banner year for Army’s football program, as they appeared and finished in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 1996. With their high powered triple-option attack and a stout, tenth-ranked defense, the Black Knights were able to take care of business against most of their schedule. Their lone losses came against power conference foes Duke and Oklahoma, with the latter being a 28-21 overtime thriller in Norman.
Most importantly for Army fans, Jeff Monken’s squad took down rival service academies Air Force and Navy to claim their second straight Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The Black Knights would cap off their 10-2 regular season by blowing out Houston 70-14 in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Whose your favorite 7?? ??????? pic.twitter.com/Lptnn9jSUJ
Jaylon McClinton ?? (@JayPrime_7) March 3, 2019
Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. is back in West Point for his senior season, where he will be working with a backfield that features several runners taking on larger roles. Those running backs include seniors Connor Slomka and Kell Walker, along with junior Zach Boobas. The offensive line is loaded with seniors, with left tackle Alex Herndon and center Jack Sides headlining that group.
Although the defense will be without coordinator Jay Bateman, who took the same job at North Carolina, there are still plenty of playmakers on campus. The linebacker corps will be led by middle man Cole Christiansen while Army’s frontline is anchored by fellow senior Rod Stoddard II at nose guard. Seniors Jaylon McClinton and Cameron Jones are expected to man the safety spots, while Elijah Riley and Javhari Bourdeau line up on the outside.
Although few if any of last year’s seniors will be playing on Sunday’s, their contributions will be missed going forward. The biggest loss is running back Darnell Woolfolk, who leaves West Point tied for second in school history with 37 rushing touchdowns. The defense also lost some key players in pass rushers, James Nachtigal, and Kenneth Brinson, with the former recording 8.5 sacks and forcing five fumbles.
Keiran Grant (@keiran6grant) May 9, 2019
With Army not being a breeding ground for NFL development, recruiting top talent to West Point is one of the toughest tasks in college football. However, with scholarship limits not applicable to service academies, Army is able to produce massive classes like this year’s edition which includes 85 commitments. Leading the class is a foursome of three-star prospects from Texas, which includes running back Keiran Grant and Spencer Jones.
The class of 2019 also includes a handful of quarterback recruits, who will be groomed to run Monken’s triple-option offense. These prospects include Georgia recruits Kyle Terry and Jaylon West as well as fellow two-stars Alex Meredith and Dadisi Curtis.
|September 7th||@ Michigan|
|September 14th||UT-San Antonio|
|September 21st||Morgan State|
|October 12th||@ Western Kentucky|
|October 19th||@ Georgia State|
|October 26th||San Jose State|
|November 2nd||@ Air Force|
|November 30th||@ Hawaii|
|December 14th||Navy (Neutral site game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA)|
As an independent, Army has the flexibility to tailor their schedule to allow for a mix of challenges and winnable games. Coach Monken has made a habit of scheduling games against playoff contenders such as Oklahoma and Ohio State. This year is no different as the Black Knights will meet up in Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in the Big House. Their performance against Oklahoma last year could give them enough confidence to hang with the Wolverines, or it could be a blip on the radar.
As always, their rivalry games against Air Force and Navy should be tightly contested regardless of how their seasons go. Having to play the Falcons in Colorado could be tough given the altitude and their fast-paced attack.
Regular season only. Conference championship games do not count.
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Andre has been writing for WSN since February 2019, covering college basketball and college football. A graduate of Florida State and UNC-Chapel Hill, he lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When he is not writing, he enjoys playing sports and Magic: The Gathering.
Email: [email protected]More info on Andre Viljoen
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