ANNAPOLIS, DEC. 5 -- Frank Schenk knows what it's like to be a football hero. As far as he is concerned, once is enough.
It was Schenk's 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left that brought Navy its 19-17 upset victory over Army a year ago.
Schenk quickly found himself in the embrace of teammates, fellow Midshipmen, officers, even admirals. Owner of a B-plus average in a demanding oceanography major, Schenk was shrewd enough to realize what might have happened if he had missed.
"When I came back here and it was total chaos, I saw what happened when I made it," Schenk said. "I thought, 'God, I wouldn't have a friend left if I hadn't.' "
So while others remind Schenk of his niche in Army-Navy history, he tries to keep his role in perspective -- and willingly offers to pass on the hero's mantle to a teammate when the teams meet again Saturday in Philadelphia.
"People are constantly talking about it, but I need to forget about it," Schenk said. "That's in the past. There's an old saying, 'Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back.'
"Hopefully, I'll just be kicking extra points Saturday. I'm hoping we'll be up 21 points in the fourth quarter. But when you look at the scores, it's usually a four-points-or-less game either way."
Everywhere Schenk went in the last year, he heard his name mentioned, whether here in Annapolis, on a summer cruise aboard a submarine or at home in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
"When I went on training this past summer and started getting around the crew of the sub, I could hear them whispering, 'That's the guy who kicked it,' " Schenk said. "Obviously, it makes you feel good. I'd be a fool to say it doesn't.
"When I was at home, my sister said, 'Frankie, what if it happens again?' And my mom said, 'Let's not push our luck. He made it last year.' "
Schenk has a video of the game, but he has refrained from checking out the wild scene that followed his winning kick.
"I'm sure I'll look at it later, but honestly, I don't want to think about it," Schenk said. "If it comes down to me again and I miss, that would be my last kick in college. That would be a heck of a way to go out."
If Schenk is somewhat pessimistic, he has good reason. Thus far, his senior year has been mostly forgettable. Worst of all was the death of his father a month ago.
On the football field, Schenk has made only seven of 13 field goal tries, none longer than 37 yards. That is a decisive dropoff from a year ago, when he clicked on 12 of 17 and missed only once from inside the 40.
"I haven't had the year I was expecting," Schenk said. "I missed too many. My stats aren't that good at all. I could come up with a thousand excuses, but I just haven't done it. Last year was much better.
"The Army game stayed with me quite awhile. Even this year at the beginning, kicking in games was harder, because it wasn't to that extreme. I wasn't as focused. But the guys on the team have been good. They've been supportive all year."
Last year's victory over the Cadets brought the Midshipmen up from the depths of despair, providing a positive touch to a 3-8 season. As a result, Schenk and three teammates were able to wear N sweaters with a star -- commemorating a triumph over Army -- to today's media luncheon at Hubbard Hall.
"That made the best of a bad season," Schenk said. "Now we're 5-5 and if we win Saturday, we'll have a winning season. That's a very big factor. It's not only Army-Navy, but Army-Navy to have a winning season."
The Cadets are also 5-5. They have had only one losing season in the last six (5-6 in 1987). Navy last topped .500 in 1982, the year before Jim Young became the Army coach.
Navy Notes: Coach George Chaump, preparing for his first Army game, indicated that he might use a kickoff return unit made up exclusively of players from the undefeated plebe team. . . .
Both Army and Navy will hold pep rallies and bonfires Thursday, but the week before the game has been calmer than in other years, a response to past excesses. Academy officials did provide sledge hammers and an old car with "Beat Army" painted on the side, for Midshipmen with an overabundance of energy.