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Navy football earns prestigious Lambert Trophy

Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk is quite familiar with the prestigious Lambert Trophy, which has been awarded annually to the top team in the Eastern region since 1936.

Gladchuk's father and namesake was an All-American member of the 1940 Boston College team that received the Lambert Trophy. Head coach Frank Leahy led the so-called "Team of Destiny" to an undefeated season, outscoring opponents 320-52.

Chet Gladchuk was an associate athletic director at Syracuse University in 1987 when it fielded a Lambert Trophy-winning squad. Head coach Dick MacPhearson and quarterback Don McPherson directed an 11-0-1 campaign that ended with the tie coming against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

"Having been an athletic director at several East Coast schools, the Lambert Trophy has special meaning to me," Gladchuk said. "It's a big part of the heritage and tradition of what college football means in the East."

Needless to say, no one was more thrilled than Gladchuk when it was announced on Thursday that Navy had been selected as winner of the Lambert Trophy. It marked the first time since 1963 and only the sixth time in program history the Midshipmen have earned the Lambert Trophy.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo along with co-captains Keenan Reynolds and Bernie Sarra will formally receive the historic piece of hardware on behalf of Navy at the ECAC Football Awards Banquet, being held on Feb. 25 at MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, N.J. Reynolds will also be presented the ECAC Offensive Player of the Year Award that night.

"This is a very distinguished and meaningful tribute to one of the most accomplished teams in Navy football history," Gladchuk said.

Navy set a single-season school record with 11 wins and captured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy by beating service academy rivals Army and Air Force. The Midshipmen went 6-1 in their inaugural year of competition in the American Athletic Conference and shared the West Division title with Houston.

Navy defeated Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl and was ranked 18th in the final Associated Press poll. That marked the Midshipmen's highest final ranking in the AP poll since 1963.

"Obviously, this is a tremendous honor for our football program and the institution," Niumatalolo said. "When you talk about being the top football team on the entire East Coast, that's a big deal. We are extremely proud to be the Lambert Trophy winner for 2015."

Standout two-way lineman Tom Lynch was captain and Roger Staubach was the star quarterback of Navy's 1963 team that finished 9-2 after losing to Texas in the Cotton Bowl battle for the national championship.

That squad, coached by College Football Hall of Famer Wayne Hardin, was invoked many teams last season as Navy posted numerous accomplishments for the first time since 1963.

"I wasn't even born the last time Navy won the Lambert Trophy so that really puts this honor in perspective," Niumatalolo said.

Final 2015 Lambert Poll Results
FBS
1 -- Navy 11-2
2 -- Temple 10-4
3 -- West Virginia 8-5
4 -- Pittsburgh 8-5
5 -- Penn State 7-6
6 -- Virginia Tech 7-6
7 -- Connecticut 6-7
8 -- Rutgers 4-8
9 -- Syracuse 4-8
10 -- Buffalo 5-7
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(c)2016 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
Visit The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) at www.hometownannapolis.com
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