WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Army trainer Jeff Monken closely research a crew of avid gamers at follow when a ruckus erupts in some other crew.
Monken makes a beeline for 2 avid gamers grappling at the floor in a heated change, yanks every up by means of the shoulder pads and escorts them off the sphere. Practice is over for them, and Monken makes that transparent with a few harsh phrases. Then it is again to educating because the Black Knights proceed getting ready for his or her first competition sport of the season at Air Force with a sense of self belief that is been construction since Monken was once employed 4 years in the past.
With a no-nonsense demeanor and a steely get to the bottom of, Monken has remodeled Army into a winner, one thing the academy had desperately searched for the simpler a part of twenty years. The Black Knights, with their ground-gobbling triple choice offense, are 6-2, the one losses coming at the highway towards Ohio State (38-7) and Tulane (21-17), and the college is the primary in America to simply accept a bowl bid. Army has a tie-in with the Armed Forces Bowl and authorised its bid after beating Temple in time beyond regulation closing month.
These are heady days alongside the banks of the Hudson River, and the nice feeling on campus is palpable.
“It’s hard not to walk around and hold your head a little higher when you’re actually winning some games,” mentioned former working again Joe Walker, now on workforce as an athletic intern. “You can see it in the Corps of Cadets. They’re pretty excited about Army football, I think now more than ever.”
“It’s pats on the back all week long,” added linebacker Cole Christiansen. “Everywhere we’re going, everyone’s saying, ‘Go beat them! Go beat them!’ I wasn’t here back in the old days when it (West Point) was a little rougher than it is now, but I know that the vibe around campus is a lot better now.”
The setting wasn’t so nice when Monken was once employed in December 2013. Since the 1996 crew received an academy-record 10 video games underneath Bob Sutton, shedding had transform the norm, achieving a nadir underneath Todd Berry when Army posted a list that has by no means been duplicated by means of any crew — Zero-13 in 2003. Before Monken guided the Black Knights to an Eight-Five mark closing 12 months that incorporated an all-important win over archrival Navy and a bowl victory, Army had controlled just one profitable season — 7-6 underneath Rich Ellerson in 2010 — in 19 years underneath six coaches and had misplaced to the Midshipmen 14 directly occasions.
Monken, who had 3 directly double-digit profitable seasons at Georgia Southern sooner than coming to West Point, has struggled, too. After guiding the Black Knights to a 47-39 victory over Buffalo in his first sport as head trainer, the crew misplaced 3 directly, together with an embarrassing time beyond regulation setback at Yale, an Ivy League foe that performs in school soccer’s 2d tier. Even worse, Army was once outscored by means of a mixed 57-13 in losses to Air Force and Navy and completed Four-Eight.
Monken’s 2d season additionally was once forgettable — no less than on paper. The Black Knights completed 2-10 in 2015, however six of the ones losses have been by means of a mixed 28 issues, and each Monken and the Army brass sensed that one thing excellent was once within the making.
“I knew we were turning the corner. I knew we were going to have a good football team,” Monken mentioned. “They just kept battling and kept believing. I knew our attitude was where it needed to be. We were playing 24 freshmen. Now those guys are juniors. The belief and trust is that we’re supposed to win.”
This season Army is Five-Zero at house, the closing two victories by means of a mixed 4 issues over Eastern Michigan (28-27) and Temple (31-28). The good fortune at Michie Stadium has been particular for each the avid gamers and Monken, who has endeared himself to all of the academy by means of storming around the box to rejoice with the Corps of Cadets after every win.
“We’re on the flip side now,” junior linebacker James Nachtigal mentioned. “We’re finally winning the ones that come down to the wire. We’ve got a lot of belief in each other. It builds the brotherhood. It gives you a stronger connection to the team. The seniors know how to win, they expect to win, and that just trickles down from there.”
The win over the Owls gave Monken 20 in 4 years, the primary time that is been achieved on the academy since Jim Young in 1986. West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. is not shocked.
“It’s how the players connect to him. They respect him, they admire him, they know he’s a man of standards,” mentioned Caslen, a heart at the 1973 Army crew that completed Zero-10 underneath Tom Cahill because the Vietnam War was once winding down. “That’s what you saw in the locker room (after the Temple game) — a tremendous bond that he has earned … and building in them the mental and physical toughness where they now believe in themselves and they’re willing to lay it on the line for each other.”
“He’s what we thought he was,” added athletic director Boo Corrigan, who employed Monken. “He came in here and energized us.”
The trick now will probably be to make the newfound good fortune undergo. Sutton was once named nationwide trainer of the 12 months in 1996 and 3 years later was once fired on a Philadelphia side road after 3 directly shedding seasons.
“Everybody is happy and excited,” mentioned senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, whose past due landing beat Navy closing December. “But one thing coach told us is complacency is the biggest thing that could turn everything around.”
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