Navy has dominated rivalry recently
BALTIMORE » On paper, this looks like a blowout.
Then again, it's Army-Navy, and enough said.
While Navy (7-4) puts up terrific numbers and wins football games, the Black Knights (3-8) struggle to be competitive. Considering the Mids' 2007 offense is packed with explosives, Army's defense appears too porous to contain Navy's versatility.
Kaheaku-Enhada ready to go today
BALTIMORE » After missing Navy's last game, quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, a junior from Kapolei, will be back in the Navy starting lineup.
Kaheaku-Enhada injured his right knee in the third quarter of the North Texas game on Nov. 10, and then sat out Navy's final contest with Northern Illinois. He did participate in full practices this week, and is declared fit for the game.
"Kaipo is ready and will start," Navy coach Paul Johnson simply said.
Should Kaheaku-Enhada suffer an injury and be forced to the sidelines, junior Jarod Bryant is waiting in the wings.
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Yet, the cliché is used every year that this is a rivalry with no peer in sports. Some argue the Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, Ohio State-Michigan in football and Duke-North Carolina in basketball are rivalries that supersede Army-Navy.
But the participants in today's game would say otherwise.
"From the day you enter the academy grounds, it's beat Navy," said Army coach Stan Brock. "That's all you hear and when -- notice I said when -- we beat Navy, everyone will be happy."
That task will not be easy.
Navy is concluding one of its most productive offensive seasons, and has accepted an invitation to play in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 20 at San Diego.
Right now, Navy leads all Division I teams in rushing and has scored 51 of 60 times in the red zone. That's an 85 percent success rate. Navy is averaging 40.1 points per game, and has led the nation in rushing in three of the past four years.
In the 72-62 victory over North Texas on Nov. 10, Navy amassed 680 yards of total offense, the second-highest in school history. Only 724 yards against Tulane in 2000 is higher. In that North Texas game, Navy ran for 572 yards, the most in school history.
Compare that to Army's allowance of an average of 228.6 yards on the ground and 435.3 yards of total offense surrendered, and things do not look good for the Black Knights.
Navy's execution of the option clearly has Army's attention. The acute efficiency of quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, a 2003 Star-Bulletin All-State utility player from Kapolei High School, keeps opponents off balance and maintains a strong command of Navy head coach Paul Johnson's option offense.
"They are really effective, not just for a service academy but for all of college football," said Army strong safety Caleb Campbell, who leads the Black Knights with 67 tackles, 27 assists and two sacks. "To defense their option, you have to be disciplined. We need to read keys and be ready to adapt. (Johnson) usually throws in a few new things, so we need to be really focused."
Plus, Johnson is not afraid to use a two-quarterback system. Signal callers Kaheaku-Enhada and Jarod Bryant, a junior from Hoover, Ala., give the Mids creativity and versatility. Their styles contrast, as Kaheaku-Enhada tends to control the offense on the ground, while Bryant is considered a better passer.
After Kaheaku-Enhada was injured in the North Texas game, Bryant became an instant replacement and guided the Mids to a convincing 35-24 win over Northern Illinois in their last game. Kaheaku-Enhada tops Navy in rushing (148 carries for 812 yards, 11 TDs) and passing (46-for-79, 823 yards, eight TDs). His passing-efficiency mark is 160.67, while Bryant's is 123.12 (17-for-31, 252 yards).
"We have the comfort of utilizing two great quarterbacks," said Johnson. "Each is a little different and brings a different dimension. Depending on who's in, we can tweak things, and that keeps the other team off balance."
The game will be seen locally on KGMB beginning at 7 a.m. ... While the site for this game is M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL's Ravens, the game returns to its traditional Philadelphia home for 2008 and 2009. After that, the academies must settle on a venue, duration of the next agreement and sign contracts. ... Navy leads this storied series 51-49, with seven ties. ... Navy has won five straight in the series, and seven of the last eight. ... If Navy wins today, it will be the sixth straight over the Black Knights with six different quarterbacks. That's never happened in this series. ... Navy is after its fifth straight Commander-in-Chief Trophy. Army has won this award just once in the past 19 years, and that was in 1996. ... Navy's offense has been prolific and productive. In beating North Texas 72-62, the point production set a modern record. Previously, Navy defeated Princeton 65-7 on Oct. 17, 1953. The all-time Navy record is a 127-0 win over Ursinus of Pennsylvania on Nov. 16, 1918. ... Navy's production includes a 46-43 win over Duke, a 48-45 overtime win over Pitt, a 59-52 loss to Delaware and a 46-44 win over Notre Dame. In comparison and in their last two games, Army lost to Rutgers 41-6 and Tulsa 49-39. ... Freshman Patrick Mealy, a 5-foot-10 203-pounder out of Scottsville, Va., leads Army on the ground with 332 rushing yards on 94 carries, no touchdowns. Compare that to Navy's team rushing average of 357.4 yards a game. ... Navy slotback senior Reggie Campbell has been selected to play in the 2008 Hula Bowl in Aloha Stadium.