It has been a long time since Army won a game in its storied rivalry against Navy.
How long? Well, it happened at Veterans Stadium, less than six months after ground was broken for the construction of Lincoln Financial Field, which will serve as Army-Navy host for the ninth time on Dec. 14.
Before the Army victory in 2001, neither service academy had built a winning streak of more than five games. However, after Navy won the next year, it kept winning, and winning, and winning, to the tune of 11 straight.
The streak was a hot topic of conversation at Wednesday's Army-Navy luncheon at the Linc, but Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo did everything but shush reporters upon hearing the question.
"I say the same thing every year: We really don't talk about that," Niumatalolo said. "We talk about this year, this game, this team, our preparation for this game. That's always been our approach, our mind-set. Don't look back in the past because none of those games has any bearing on this game."
The streak against Navy (7-4) is certainly a problem for Army (3-8), which has come within one possession at the end the last two years after being trounced by an average of almost 26 points in the previous nine.
Last season, the Black Knights were driving in the closing stages with a first down on the Navy 14 when quarterback Trent Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon didn't connect on a handoff and nose guard Barry Dabney recovered for the Mids with 1 minute, 4 seconds to play.
The resulting 17-13 loss dropped Army coach Rich Ellerson to 0-4 in the series, leading to suggestions that Ellerson's seat might be getting warm. But athletic director Boo Corrigan called Ellerson "a perfect fit" for the academy in his introduction of the coach at the luncheon.
Ellerson said he felt no extra pressure.
"You do this one thing at a time," he said. "You can talk about outcomes and what's going to happen. If it's not going to somehow or in some way affect our preparation, then leave it off the table. That's sort of how I approach it."
Notes. Army senior Raymond Maples, a West Catholic graduate who last year became only the third player in academy history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, has been limited to three games because of a groin injury and is not expected to play against Navy. "It's heartbreaking for him because we thought he was going to be able to make a run at it late in the season, but it just hasn't happened," Ellerson said. . . . The march-on by the Army Corps of Cadets will take place at 12:16 p.m., with the Brigade of Midshipmen following at 12:46 p.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:10 p.m.