Army Football defeats Navy, North Texas, ends season on high note and improves Corps of Cadets morale

Story by Michelle Eberhart Assistant Editor

January 5th, 2017 | News, News and Features
The Rabble Rousers motivate the crowd as the Army West Point Football team goes on to defeat the University of North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 27. This is the first year that Army has both defeated Navy and won a bowl game since 1984. Photo by Class of 2018 Cadet Alex Werden
The West Point Spirit Band played a part of morale booster at the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl Dec. 27 in Dallas. Army West Point defeated North Texas 38-31 in overtime to help get to an 8-5 record for the 2016 season.  Photo by Class of 2018 Cadet Alex Werden

Army Football’s 38-31 overtime win over North Texas at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Dec. 27 marked a turning point, not only for the Army Football team, but for the Corps of Cadets who have been supporting their team all year.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl victory was the first time since 1984 that Army had beaten both Navy and their Bowl game opponent in the same year.

It was Army’s first Bowl victory since 2010. Also, the first time Army reached eight wins since 1996. And while the statistics are impressive, it’s the morale of the Corps that has been overwhelmingly inspiring.

Class of 2017 Cadet Mike Murray watched the Army team rise over the last three years, finally defeating Navy during his last year as a cadet.

“It was intense,” Murray said as he was describing the win against the fellow service academy. “My parents are Navy grads, my brother is a plebe there right now, and being there in Baltimore, storming the field, it was amazing.”

Murray took the three-hour drive with his brother from Austin, Texas to be at the game.

“I’m a Firstie and this is my last game as a cadet, I just wanted to come out here and see Army beat the hell out of UNT and prove to the rest of the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schedule that we’re a team that deserves to be reckoned with,” Murray added.

While some cadets have watched the team grow over the years, some are able to experience the excitement as it has just begun.

“It’s amazing. I wasn’t there during the losing streak, but the feeling of the Army-Navy game, especially, was incredible. To rush the field and win after 14 years is just a great feeling,” Plebe Jack Provost noted.

Provost, also a Texas local, said he’d never had the opportunity to enter Cotton Bowl Stadium until now.

“I’ve been to the Texas Fair my whole life, but never actually got to come inside Cotton Bowl Stadium, I was so excited to be able to support the Army team,” he added.

Despite the game taking place in the middle of holiday leave, a good number of cadets attended the Heart of Dallas Bowl, taking the trek from all corners of the country.

“It was so worth it,” Cadet Mario Contreras, Class of 2017 President, said.

Contreras flew from North Carolina the day after Christmas to be with his classmates for the big game.

“Being here today at the first winning bowl game in six years, it’s hard to put into words,” Contreras remarked. “Walking around, seeing the crowd today, everyone is happy we’re winning and it’s a great feeling.”

Contreras says the Corps’ morale has noticeably improved over the course of the year.

“I’ve never seen a boost like this,” Contreras said, reflecting on his last three years as a cadet. “But seeing this win over Navy and continuing it over to this Bowl Game win, I’ve never seen anything like it, I think it will carry into next semester, everyone is so spirited.”

Class of 2017 Cadet Ricky Anciola agrees.

“It’s been a phenomenal feeling, watching the team win, I think that will set the precedent for many years to come,” he said. “I played prep school football with a lot of my teammates that are now seniors that had the privilege of beating Navy and now North Texas at this Bowl game. It’s been great watching Coach Monken turn the program around and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

As the Army West Point Football team ends its season with an 8-5 record, it’s hopeful that the excitement within the Corps of Cadets has just begun.