Army starting quarterback Trent Steelman (#8) throws to a receiver during drills prior to their team scrimmage in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Saturday, August 13, 2011. The Army Black Knights open the 2011 season on Sept. 3rd. at Northern Illinois and their home opener is Sept. 10th. against San Diego State. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record
Ok, I'm going to go out on a limb here after shooting today's scrimmage with this year's Army football team. Something I never, ever do - at least not in a public forum. I try real hard to not become "a homer"; rooting for the home team you're covering. It's always been best for me to not get too attached to local teams and athletes, because when they come up short, it hurts and can sometimes effect your work. Certainly can't have that in this day and age. But this summer there already seems to be somewhat of a buzz in the air down at the United States Military Academy. I got a slight hint of it last week while covering practice in their indoor facility. Players like starting QB Trent Steelman, FB Jared Hassin, and WR Davyd Brooks (from right here in Newburgh, BTW) have a little more bounce in their step. What we used to call "Snap & Pop" in the Marine Corps. Steelman's passes are little tighter (top & left), Brooks' pass routes (bottom) are crisp and exact, and fullback Hassin (right) has become a bona fide punishing runner out of the backfield. Newcomer FB Larry Dixon (a freshman I believe) is built like a armored vehicle and he looks like he's going to be leaving a few stunned tacklers in his wake too. Slotback Jon Crucitti (below at right) is also a baseball player who can reliably "deliver the mail" as well. Along with Ray Maples, they should have a solid backfield. There's a new backup QB, Angel Santiago (left), who looks short in stature, but I'm sure he's got the goods or head coach Rich Ellerson wouldn't have him out there running the second team offense already. In what will be my fifth year of covering ARMY football down at Michie Stadium and on the road, this team may have the makings of something nice this season. We'll see how they look after a few more practices I'll probably be assigned to before the season starts in three weeks. It also feels really, really good to be working on the warm turf field of a mid-August afternoon in a Div. I college stadium, shooting with long glass (300mm + 1.4 & 2X tele-extenders), multiple cameras, and making good sports images again. Stay tuned. ~cg.
Army receiver Davyd Brooks (#13) dives but cannot make the reception on a Trent Steelman pass during drills prior to their team scrimmage in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Saturday, August 13, 2011. The Army Black Knights open the 2011 season on Sept. 3rd. at Northern Illinois and their home opener is Sept. 10th. against San Diego State. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record