George Welsh, Navy's football coach, got a taste today of the expectations created by success. It is something he can expect each week of the season, so long as his Mids remain successful.
With a schedule that lists The Citadel, Connecticut, Illinois, Air Force, William and Mary, and Virginia on the first six Saturdays, Welsh was asked, "Do you expect to be 6-0 going into Pitt again, and 7-0 into Notre Dame?"
"I'd like to win one in a row first," said Welsh, a cautious type who played games the traditional "one at a time" last fall as Navy built a 7-0 record, stumbled for three straight, then recouped to destroy Army, 28-0, and whip Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl.
Everybody has high hopes for the Mids next time around, and Welsh, with his usual forthrightness, conceded that he did too.
"If the defense is health, on paper things look good," Welsh said. "We have a veteran defensive team, a lot of guys who are two and three-year lettermen. We're not good enough to score 35 points a game, so we have to play good defense and minimize our mistakes."
Navy has 33 lettermen returning and the only position of the starting 22 without one is safety. That could be remedied in the fall if Fred Reitzel, last year's starter, is moved back from his spring assignment, quaterbacking.
"Last year, with (Bob) Leszczyski and (Bob) Powers, we had depth at quaterback, so we shifted Reitzel and it worked out well," Welsh said. "Now we have a death of quaterbacks, so we tried Reitzel there this spring, in case we needed him in the fall.
"Powers has had a good spring and we feel at this stage that we can win with him. Kevin McTavish will be ready to play some and we also have Mark Fitzgerald and two or three plebes we've recruited, so possibly we will move Reitzel back on defense. We'll make that decision in August."
With Leszcyznski's passing arm graduated, Navy figures to run more this year.Powers, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior, is an excellent ball carrier and Welsh said there likely would be plays designed for him to run.
"Powers has taken charge and he's more confident," Welsh said. "He's big, strong, has pretty good speed and he's tough to bring down, so we may run with him more, but I just don't believe in running the quarterback a lot."
With a platoon of runners that Welsh calls "easily our best depth at running back since I've been here," Navy may not be as dependent on its quarterback as it has been in the past. Larry Klawinski, Kevin Tolbert and Chris Klein are proven fullbacks and Steve Callahan, Mike Sherlock and Wootton High product Duane Flowers provided speed at tailback.
Another local schoolboy, Crossland's Greg Papajohn, is tabbed to be the starting split end. The plebe recruits reflect the academy's attention in this area, the list including defensive end Bill Bustle of Fort Hunt, defensive halfback Ron Cianella of Langley, safety Mike Gullette of Annandale, defensive end Dan Johnson of Crossland and tackle Frank Watt of Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
Tempering the enthusiasm on the Severn has been the absence of same during spring drills, which conclude with an intrasquad scrimmage in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium Saturday at 11 a.m.
"We haven't practiced with a lot of enthusiasm," Welsh said. "It's usually typical of us, but haven't had it. I feel we can get it back in the fall, but I like to have it in the spring, so you get the carryover. We've had more injuries this spring than ever, and more people miss practice time."
While most players consider spring practice drudgery, Welsh usually utilizes it to shift men around to fill holes left by graduation and defection. Aside from Reitzel, the only major change this time was the split of offensive tackle Rick Bott to center. It is an indication that Navy has more success in its future. CAPTION: Picture, George Welsh