Three words on the back of a black Army T-shirt say it all.
Stronger. Faster. Quicker.
The words ooze the confidence of an athlete who plays for a team at the top.
With three victories under its belt and a total of 115 points, compared to its opponents' 14 points, Army's sprint football team is at the top of the Collegiate Sprint Football League standings.
But the 3-0 Cadets are not alone in the ranks of sprint football undefeateds. Penn, at 2-0, is right there with them.
Under West Point's Friday night lights, Penn -- the league's top-rated offense -- and Army -- the league's number one defense -- will face each other to possibly determine the CSFL title.
Last year on Franklin Field, Army and Penn found themselves in a similar situation -- two undefeated teams looking to gain a lone spot at the top. In that game, the Quakers snapped Army's nine-game winning streak, knocked the Black Knights out of first place and secured the 2000 CSFL championship title.
"Every year [Army] is always the strongest team out there," Penn senior captain Diego Morales said. "Last year they were definitely stronger than we were. But we wanted it more. That is why we won."
Traditionally, Army has been the team to beat. But maybe not this year.
"[Penn] has now moved to the other side of the coin where [Army] is looking to beat [Penn]," Quakers coach Bill Wagner said. "We are the defending champs."
In their second CSFL game against Princeton, the Quakers may have proved their championship reign was not a one-year wonder.
Led by junior running back Mark Gannon's 158 yards on 22 carries and two first-half touchdowns, the Quakers toppled the Tigers, 56-12.
"We were beating them pretty good the whole game," Wagner said.
Army also toppled Princeton, 47-8, but unlike Penn, it took Army a scoreless first quarter to finally motivate the Cadets to show Princeton that they truly were stronger, faster and quicker.
The secret to Army's success is its offensive line, propelled by senior captain Douglass Ross.
Notoriously known for going through the linemen, straight for the linebackers, Ross is the backbone of the team's offense.
"[Ross] is one of the better blockers in this league," Wagner said. "He blocked the hell out of the kids on Navy's team. Whoever plays in front of [Ross] has to have a big game. We need to keep him off our linebackers."
With the loss of defensive leadership and talent in senior captain linebacker Matt Ragsdale due to an ankle injury, Penn looks to two players to fill that void. Sophomore Scott Oh will replace Ragsdale on the field and Morales, the lone senior defenseman, will be counted on to fill Ragsdale's leadership role.
According to Wagner, the key to the game is defense.
But Penn's offensive line, led by senior captains David Berkley and Brian Dubin, could be ready to stop any opposition to the team's offensive scoring machine. And that machine features Gannon, who was named all CSFL Offensive Player of the Week after his performance at Princeton, sophomore quarterback Jimmer Donapel, sophomore Bamidele Olatunbosun, juniors Jeff Bagnoli and Tim Murphy and freshman Pat Monaghan.
Penn is coming off a bye week after two straight blowout victories.
The Quakers are ready to show the Black Knights that someone else is ready to wear the shirt -- Stronger. Faster. Quicker.
Or rather, they are ready to show Army that someone else wants to wear the shirt more.Comments powered by Disqus
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