Army’s next goal is a bowl game

Rich Ellerson’s first season at Army was successful in several

ways. The Cadets won five games and were more competitive than they

had been in years.

The goal now for Ellerson will be building on the

accomplishments of the first year.

Ellerson installed a triple-option attack similar to the one Jim

Young used with great success at Army in the 1980s, and the Black

Knights responded by going 5-7, a season-ending loss to Navy

depriving them of their first bowl berth since 1996.

Ellerson expects more this season, and he’s not alone.

”The offense in general has made leaps and bounds since last

year,” senior offensive tackle Jason Johnson said. ”The cohesion

level is much better than it was last year. It feels like everyone

is on the same page and knows what they’re doing. There is a lot

more trust in the huddle.”

It starts with quarterback Trent Steelman, who last season

became just the second plebe to start at quarterback for the Black

Knights against Navy and the first Army quarterback, regardless of

class, to start 12 games in a season.

The Black Knights averaged just more than 200 yards rushing

behind Steelman, who ran for a team-high 706 yards and five

touchdowns and threw for 637 yards and three TDs with two


One of the biggest questions of the offseason was how effective

senior quarterback Chip Bowden would be after recovering from

surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

So far in preseason camp, Bowden, the backup to Steelman for

seven games in 2009, has not displayed any ill effects from the


Bowden has shared reps with the first string with junior Max

Jenkins while Steelman nursed a minor knee injury.

Freshman wide receiver Anthony Stephens, a walk-on from

Greenville, S.C., also has impressed the coaches and will be called

on to help fill the void left by wideout Alejandro Villanueva, who

at 6 feet 10 was the tallest player in Army football history.

Villanueva had 34 catches for 522 yards and five touchdowns in

2009 after playing offensive tackle the previous year.

”Anthony has been a pleasant surprise,” offensive coordinator

Ian Shields said. ”He just kind of showed up here. His dad went to

school here. We knew about him, but he’s been better than


Pat Mealy, who averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored three

times last season, is the top returning running back. Freshman

Raymond Maples, Malcolm Brown, Brian Cobbs and fullback Jared

Hassin round out the group.

”It has a chance to be an explosive group,” Ellerson said.

Kicker Alex Carlton is back after he tied a single-season

academy record with 18 field goals in 2009. Though he missed twice

against Navy in the season finale and twice more in the annual

spring game.

”He got rid of the shanks and went right back to work,”

Ellerson said. ”It looks like he’s grown from last year.”

The past eight seasons have ended with losses to Navy, which has

won 11 of 13 to take a 54-49-7 advantage in the rivalry.