Army conducts defensive scrimmage

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Army's offense pulled a no-show at Michie Stadium. But on this day, that was the plan. The Black Knights concluded its spring drills under sun-splashed skies with the annual Black-Gold game. It was an anticlimactic ending to spring sessions, but at least we got to see our guys in black and gold take the field. The 90-minute session featured a scripted defensive. . .

. . .scrimmage versus the scout-team offense.

Coach Stan Brock's offense didn't reveal much, but the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y. reported this week that Army's new secret offense will have some wishbone in it. Hallelujah, if that is the truth. Brock said the spring was a success. However, the true barometer reading comes when Army hosts Temple in its season-opener on Aug. 29. "They continued to impress me with their toughness and desire to win, all the things you would expect out of them," said Brock, who went 3-9 in 2007, his first season calling the shots. Army lost its last six games, capping its 11th straight losing season with a 38-3 loss to rival Navy. The Midshipmen have beaten Army six years in a row.

"I don't think they shocked me with anything," Brock said. "They continued to impress me with their ability to work hard."

After a hard month of practices, Brock and his staff passed out six individual awards. Two players were given Army's most prestigious spring honor, the "Sledgehammer Award." Senior linebacker John Plumstead represented the defense, while junior running back Nicholas Sabellico took home the offensive honor. Given to the Army football player who consistently demonstrated the greatest physical and mental toughness during Army's spring workouts, the "Sledgehammer Award" was invented by former Army head coach Bobby Ross in 2004. Ross resigned after the 2006 season. Plumstead and Sabellico will have their names added to a plaque bearing the inscription "strapped it on, came to play and wielded steel" that hangs in the team locker room. "They both just showed up and came to work every day," Brock said. "They never backed down from anything. That is a great award, and they both really deserved it."

Plumstead started 2007 as a special teams ace in 2007, but was thrown into a starting role eight games into the season. He finished sixth on the team with 43 tackles and tied for second on the squad with 6.5 tackles for loss. Sabellico, a relative unknown until spring, appeared in two games last season for the Black Knights. Other players honored included, junior wide receiver Damion Hunter was named the most improved offensive player, senior defensive tackle Mark Faldowski earned most improved defensive honors, sophomore fullback Jacob Bohn was named the offensive scout team MVP, while junior defensive back Shane Woolwine took defensive scout team MVP honors.

"We just need to continue working out and running," Brock said. "We have to be in great shape when we come back. It's not any different than anyone else. We just have to keep working." Spring practice is over, but many questions still face Army, which had closed practices during spring at Brock urging. These are just a few: What will Brock's revamped offense look like and how much wishbone will really be used in it? How has Carson Williams developed? Can stud recruit Paul McIntosh make an impact as a freshman? Can Chip Bowden contribute? Who is the guy at running back? Can Army's young offense make the scheme work? Will Army's defense, which has also undergone some tweaks, get the job done this fall.

We could go on and on and on. August can't come quick enough. We can't wait to see the Black Knights back on the field.

Extra points: Temple concluded its spring sessions yesterday with the Cherry and White game. Starting Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele continues to recover from a broken leg. He is expected to be back for preseason camp. The Owls went 4-9 last year.

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