Navy class of '07 looks for sweep

It's never been done at Navy. Ever. And the Midshipmen have been playing football for a long time. This Navy senior class, already revered by fans, can become the first group of Midshipmen to go undefeated against service academy rivals Army and Air Force with a win over the Black Knights on Saturday. The thought of the historic sweep brings a smile to Navy senior center James Rossi's face.

"Somebody might come along and do it again, but we would be the first ones to ever do it," Rossi says. "Everyone is really excited about it. It would be pretty cool to do."

The class of 2007 moved to 7-0 against Army and Air Force with a 24-17 win over the Falcons on Oct. 7. A look at the record of each service academy over the last four years shows how power has shifted to the Midshipmen.

Navy is 34-14 during that span, followed by Air Force (20-24) and slumping Army (9-37). The Midshipmen have almost as many wins this year (eight) as the Black Knights do in four seasons. Navy has beaten Army by a combined score of 176-54 the past four seasons. The Midshipmen will play in their fourth straight bowl game (Meineke Car Care) on Dec. 30 in Charlotte against an ACC opponent to be determined.

Navy coach Paul Johnson looks back at the Midshipmen's 28-25 win over Air Force in 2003 as one of the turning points of the program. "Air Force entered that game undefeated and in the top 25," Johnson says. "I think we took that win and built on it. We finished off that year winning eight games and going to a bowl game. It established a goal for us to shoot for. Navy hadn't been beating Air Force a lot up to that point. It kind of us set us up."

Johnson isn't perfect against service academies, but he's damn close. He is 8-1 against Army and Air Force, his lone loss coming to the Falcons in his first season (2002). That's the best start for a coach in school history against the two other service academies.

Johnson is just the third coach in school history to start 4-0 against Army, joining Wayne Hardin (won his first five, 1959-63) and George Welsh (won his first four, 1973-76). Of course, Johnson is humble and respectful of his counterparts at Army and Air Force, Bobby Ross and Fisher DeBerry.

"They are both great coaches and have been doing this a lot longer than I have," Johnson says. Still, Johnson remains proud of his accomplishments and, more importantly, his teams'.

Just ask him about the seniors going 8-0 against the service academies.

"We're fortunate that we don't have anyone in our program that's lost to the service academies," Johnson says. "That's something they are proud of. Hopefully, it's something they will fight to maintain."

Extra points: The Class of 2007's 34 wins is second all-time at Navy. The class of 1909 won 36 games. The Midshipmen can tie the mark with wins over Army and in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Five Navy players have rushed for over 100 yards this season - Brian Hampton (4), Adam Ballard (3), Reggie Campbell (2), Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (2) and Shun White (1). Army hasn't had a 100-yard rusher all year.


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