No one needs to remind Navy cornerback Bas Williams about the Midshipmen's 49-7 loss to Air Force last season. He reads about it every day on the locker room wall.
"After the game, there was kind of like an arrogance about them, like they were supposed to win," he said. "After what they said in the paper, I definitely didn't like them."
There was injured quarterback Blane Morgan, quoted in the Colorado Springs Gazette as saying of Navy: "To be honest, they're not that good." There was defensive tackle Bryce Fisher, quoted as saying the Midshipmen had "copied our offense and tried to run it against us, but couldn't do it." There was starting quarterback Cale Bonds, quoted as saying: "It's easy to run with no one hitting you."
There also was an article in the Gazette that read, in part, "the Mids stunk up the joint."
This week, with Navy preparing to play Air Force on Saturday at Redskins Stadium, all of those clippings, plus many more, serve as inspiration for a Navy team that is 2-3 and, in many ways, has more contempt for the Falcons than for traditional arch rival Army.
"They make a big deal out of the fact that they win the Commander-In-Chief's [Trophy] the majority of the time," Williams said. "Like it's supposed to be at Air Force and not at Navy."
Air Force (3-1) has won the annual interacademy football competition in eight of the past 10 years and 12 of the past 17. In the process, Air Force has defeated the Midshipmen in 12 of the teams' 14 meetings since Fisher DeBerry became its coach.
According to Navy's players, however, the Falcons also have developed an even less-endearing habit.
"They like to talk a lot," defensive end Brad Wimsatt said. "That's the thing I've noticed the most the last couple years we've played them."
But this rivalry goes far deeper than words. "It just seems like [they feel] their way of life is a little better than ours, by them living in Colorado and having great facilities," Williams said. "They brag about them having the Grade-A type stuff, and us having second best."
Williams thinks the Falcons probably wouldn't hesitate to run up the score against Navy or Army "just for bragging rights."
Navy Coach Charlie Weatherbie said he made his offseason coaching hirings with an eye toward beating the other service academies, especially Air Force. Assistant head coach Sammy Steinmark was an assistant at Air Force for 17 years, and defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is a former Air Force linebacker who served as an assistant coach for the Falcons from 1989 to '92.
"Right now, Air Force, among the academies, is the team to beat," Weatherbie said. "It's very important that we have guys who are experienced in academies and experienced in what we want to do, offensively and defensively. That definitely came into play."
Navy athletes usually are obsessed with beating Army, but beating the Falcons has become so important to Navy's football players that Wimsatt said: "Army and Air Force are no different. Our main goal of the season is to get the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, so it's always a big deal playing another service academy."
Midshipmen Notes: A crowd of 45,000 to 50,000 is expected for Saturday's game, which begins at noon. Navy officials say the crowd more than justifies the move from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, where the teams historically have drawn 35,000 to 36,000.
Navy officials said they will not be using the US Airways Arena parking lot, as has been the practice at Redskins games. The stadium's on-site lot can hold approximately 22,000 cars, which they said should be more than enough.