FORT WORTH, Texas - After a week off for the Christmas holiday, the Army football team arrived in Ft. Worth, Texas on Sunday to begin their preparations for the 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl versus SMU on Thursday.
A charter filled with staff and families left Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. at 8:15 a.m., arriving in the Lone Star State at 11 a.m. local time. Four local players did make the trek on the charter flight - Davyd Brooks (Newburgh), Mitch McKearn (West Point), Ben Jebb (Cornwall) and Mike Weich (Livingston, N.J.). Due to the holiday and the West Point leave schedule, the majority of the players arrived on their own from all over the country. Despite weather issues that caused travel problems all over the country, all but one of the 91 players on the travel roster were on hand by the end of the day with the vast majority making it in time for Sunday afternoon's practice.
"Everyone flew in today from all over the nation but we had an instant dynamic," 2nd Lt. Mike Gann, who graduated before leaving West Point last week, said. "As a team, we handled that well. We got some work done today and it was a very important day, getting back into things. We worked through our game plan after watching film on our own over break. You can do that, but getting the work in as a team and feeling everything flow as a defense is so important. It just felt good to be back on the field."
After a quick check-in, the Black Knights were back on the bus and headed to Kennedale High School for its first practice of the week. After getting taped and ready, Army hit the field for a spirited session. The Black Knights were in full pads for the workout which included some full contact drills. With the game on Thursday, Sunday's practice was a "Tuesday" on the Black Knights' normal weekly preparation schedule. Army will also practice at Kennedale on Monday and Tuesday and hold a walk-thru on Wednesday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.
The team returned to the hotel for some rest and a quick meeting with the media before heading back out for the bowl's first official function. Army and SMU were both treated to a team welcome dinner featuring Texas barbecue at Billy Bob's Texas, the largest honky tonk in the world. The competiton started after dinner when members of both teams participated in "Minute To Win It" contests based on the games used on the popular NBC televsion program. The highlight of the night for the Black Knights was punter Jonathan Bulls' building an inverted pyramid of soda cans and paper plates and Josh Jones stacking a tower of five apples.
The Black Knights returned to the hotel for some rest and relaxation to end the night. Army will practice at 11 a.m. on Monday morning.
Thursday's game is set for a 12 p.m. ET kickoff in Dallas and willl be broadcast live on ESPN.