November 7, 2012

Kime trying to match his father

Army junior right tackle Michael Kime was quick to find his father when the Black Knights finished singing the alma mater following their emotional 41-21 win last week over Air Force at Michie Stadium.
 
William Kime, a West Point alum, and his son share much in common about Army football. Michael starts as the Black Knights' starting right offensive tackle and wears No. 78, same as his Dad on Army's 1984 team that won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and the Cherry Bowl.
 
Now Michael Kime's Army team is in position to win the CIC Trophy for the first time since 1996, so son greeted father with a comment about how he was "catching up with the old man" if the Black Knights can beat Navy on Dec. 8 in Philadelphia.
 
The old man, though, had a quick rejoinder to remind his son and his teammates there are more big games to play and win.
 
"He told me, 'Çome see me when you win a bowl game,' " said Michael.
 
There's not much more Michael Kime and his teammates can say to William Kime and his 1984 teammates other than to get back to work and try to salvage the 2012 season with the CIC Trophy -- and then build on it for 2013.
 
Army isn't bowl eligible this year with its 2-7 record, but the Black Knights have three games remaining. They believe they're riding newfound momentum with an offensive line that has gained consistency following early-season injuries and a freshmen-laden defense that is maturing.
 
The 1984 Army team is a good benchmark for the ongoing rebuilding taking place under fourth-year head coach Rich Ellerson.
 
In 1984, the Black Knights finished 8-3-1 with Jim Young the head coach. That team beat Air Force 24-12 and Navy 28-11 for the CIC Trophy. Then it defeated the Big Ten's Michigan State 10-6 in the Cherry Bowl at the Pontiac Silverdome. There was another "bowl" win that season on Nov. 16 when the Black Knights played in the defunct Mirage Bowl, a regular-season contest at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium. Army won 45-31 over Montana and quarterback Marty Mornhinweg, a future NFL head coach who is still coaching in the NFL as Philadelphia's offensive coordinator.
 
This year's Black Knights can't match the 1984 team, but they played like they expected this season in the Air Force victory. With Navy having beaten Air Force 28-21 in overtime last month, this year's Army-Navy game on Dec. 8 in Philadelphia is winner-take-all for the CIC Trophy for the first time since 2005.
 
"I think it's a testament to our senior class -- their leadership and tenacity on and off the field," said Kime, a 6-2, 243-pound junior from Zionsville, Ind. "We have so many good leaders and powerful figures on this team. Trent (quarterback Trent Steelman) has seen everything as a leader. Frank (left guard Frank Allen) has been a rock for us the last three years as a starter. Wilson (backup center Will Wilson) has been around leading us, too.
 
"We have good seniors that have kept us positive. When we had those games with multiple turnovers, we never fell apart. I know how important that Air Force win was to the seniors because the season hasn't turned out the way we wanted."
 
One reason for Army's disappointing start to the season was a lack of continuity on the offensive line. The Black Knights went through spring drills expecting to open 2012 with three returning starters blocking for a full house of returning starters in the backfield.
 
But of the three returning offensive line starters, only Allen has been in place at left guard for all nine games this season. Fall camp began without right guard Matt Villanti, who didn't return to school, and then sophomore center Ryan Powis suffered a hand injury. Powis didn't start the opener at San Diego State and then missed two more mid-season games. But since Powis' return to the starting lineup against Kent State, Army's O-line has been practicing and playing together the last four games.
 
Kime and sophomore Steve Shumaker (6-0, 264) at right guard have started all nine games side-by-side as first-year starters. Next to Allen (6-4, 261) at left tackle is senior Ben Jebb (6-5, 243), who started the first eight games until ankle and back injuries slowed him last week. He played some against Air Force, but senior Derek Bisgard(6-1, 242) started in place of him. Powis, of course, is in the middle.
 
"Steve and I have gotten to know each other playing every game," Kime said. "We have a good feel for each other on double-teams. We know when we're coming off blocks and we're taking over a block. We have a good chemistry."
 
Right tackle has been new position for Kime this year, but now he appears entrenched. He started last year at center before he was injured. By the time he was healthy, Powis had established himself as the Black Knights' center of the future.
 
"Coach asked me if I would move to tackle, and I said, 'Coach, as long as I'm on the field I have no problem with that," said Kime, who started one game last year at left tackle. "Everyone is flexible and unselfish about moving. As long as we get on the field and the backs are making big runs, we're happy."
 
Well, making the Black Knights' fans happy can be done by winning the CIC Trophy.
 
And if they can take such momentum in the 2013 season, the returning players can work on matching Army's 1984 team.
 
Then Michael Kime can "come see" his Dad.


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