Army eyes 1st CIC Trophy since 1996, but must beat Navy again
By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record | Published: December 3, 2017
WEST POINT — John Voit searched for teammate Jordan Smith through a sea of grey as cadets continued to jump from the stands and rush the field at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore last December.
This is what Voit and Smith, two of Army's defensive linemen, talked about for three years. The talk was over and reality was setting in. The Black Knights' 14-game losing streak to rival Navy was history following a 21-17 win.
Voit would have to wait until he reached the locker room to find Smith and rejoice. But the on-field celebration continued.
"I was surrounded by a bunch of people," Voit said. "Random people were coming up to me saying, 'Thank you.' Grads were crying."
Collin Mooney, West Point Class of 2009, sprinted from his seat in the upper section of the stadium, jumped a fence onto the field and caught up with fellow fullback and former teammate Mike Viti, now an Army assistant.
Army coach Jeff Monken said the moments after his interview with CBS Sports reporter Allie LaForce were a blur. After singing Army's alma mater second for the first time since 2001, Monken, by chance, found his wife, Beth.
"It was a great memory and it's a great memory for everybody that was there and was a part of it," Monken said. "I think it will be a great memory for this program and this academy."
Army, once again, is one victory away from another lasting moment in its storied history. In six days, the Army-Navy game will determine the most coveted prize in service-academy football. The Commander in Chief's Trophy hasn't resided at West Point since 1996.
"It's the same every year, you want to beat Navy," Voit said. "That's the biggest game on the schedule. Bringing home the Commander in Chief's Trophy means everything to this team and this program. I know this team wants to leave its legacy by getting that trophy."
Breaking Navy's streak was a program-altering moment. Capturing the CIC Trophy would be the punctuation mark for the senior class, Voit said.
Army's eight wins are its most entering the Army-Navy game since it won nine in 1996. Navy, which won its first five games this season, has dropped five of its last six. Monken expects nothing less than a close game. Monken's first three games as Army's coach in the rivalry have been decided by 15 total points.
"I anticipate it's probably going to be a heavyweight slugfest again and battle to the finish," Monken said. "That's what we are preparing for. Navy is our biggest rival and the game that we take the most pride in, in terms of winning. To have the Commander in Chief's Trophy on the line is really special. Winning the game wins that trophy and that's pretty special."
The rivalry is like no other in college football. Army long snapper Scott Flanick and Navy fullback Mike Martin are fierce opponents for 60 minutes Saturday. The former Pine Bush teammates and juniors at their respective academies could serve alongside each other in the near future. The term "brothers-in-arms" is taken to the next level.
Flanick said he keeps in contact with Martin weekly to make sure "we are keeping each other straight."
"We encourage each other because we know how (tough) the academies are," Flanick said. "The rivalry is still there. Teammates or not in high school, we are still going to compete against each other and have those chippy conversations if we meet on the field definitely. They say (teammates) are brothers for life but there's a select few that you really stay with for life. With both of us going into service after graduation, that just makes our bond closer."
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