WASHINGTON -- The Army Black Knights will again battle the Navy Midshipmen, Saturday Dec. 9 in Philadelphia, during the 118th Army-Navy football game.

The game kicks off at 3 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field, when the Black Knights, from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and the Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, take to the field.

Those unable to attend the game in person will be able to watch the Army crush Navy live on CBS television.

Around the world, excitement has been building in advance of the game. On Friday at the Pentagon, for instance, chants of "Let's go Army! Beat Navy!" echoed through the corridors of the five-sided Department of Defense headquarters here.

The chants were led by the Cadet Spirit Band and Cadet Rabble Rousers from West Point, who marched the corridors of the building as part of a pre-game "Spirit Rally" meant to fire up the faithful and beat down the spirits of opponents in advance of the game.

Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey joined in the chants and war dances as the rally moved past their offices in the Pentagon's E-Ring.

Milley, who had somehow acquired a set of cymbals, clanged them together between chants of "Go Army! Beat Navy!" to add his own noise to the chaos. He motivated the Cadets by promising amnesty for their "hours."

Zach Taylor, a drummer and firstie (senior) explained later that "hours" are awarded to Cadets by faculty for infractions. He admitted that he has 15 hours, the result of oversleeping and missing three classes. Punishment is that for each hour awarded, the cadet must march in full uniform.

After the chief declared amnesty, he added the qualifier: "Only if we win tomorrow."

Esper, a 1986 graduate of West Point, also participated in the "Go Army! Beat Navy!" chants and added his own: "Courage never quits!"

After giving pep speeches, the Army leaders led the Cadets down to the offices of the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations. However, both had disappeared and couldn't be found, perhaps fearing another humiliating walloping by Army this year.

Standing in for senior Navy leaders, however, was Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1983.

Modly wished the Army good luck, surprisingly omitting digs against them. He asked how many of the Cadets are plebes.

A number raised their hands.

"Treasure the game tomorrow," he said, recalling with fondness the first game he had attended as a Midshipman.

Since Modly had been humble in his remarks, the Cadets decided to forego more "Go Army! Beat Navy!" and instead chanted "USA, USA, USA!"

CADETS MOTIVATED

Besides being excited about the game and their visit to the Pentagon, the Cadets were thrilled about becoming Soldiers.

Cassidy Shrope, a plebe who plays the alto saxophone, said she wants to become a military intelligence officer.

She said her dad was an Army non-commissioned officer in military intelligence. "He's proud of me," she said, adding that Cadets and Soldiers have great spirit going into the game tomorrow.

Brian Davis, a firstie who plays trumpet, said he's been assigned to air defense artillery.

Davis said his father is an Academy grad from the class of 1986. As a child, he said he'd accompany his dad to class reunions and he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, as well as his grandfather's, who was a Soldier in World War II.

Fraces Trivette, a "yuk," plays the saxophone. She explained that a yuk is sometimes used in place of "yearling," which is equivalent to a sophomore.

"It's cool to serve," she said of the reason for joining the Army. Besides that, she said a lot of her friends went into the military and had an influence on her decision. She would like to become a social worker.

Alex Werden, a firstie, was running around snapping pictures. He said he's the Cadet public affairs officer. He handles media relations and contributes to social media for the Academy.

Asked if he was going into Army public affairs, he replied: "No, infantry."

PREDICTIONS

ESPN's football power index predicts the Army's chances of winning are 50.4 percent, based on both teams' performance this year.

The stats going into this, the 118th Army-Navy game, are: Army (8-3) and Navy (6-5).

Ten games of the Army-Navy rivalry have been played in Lincoln Financial Field thus far with no Army wins. The Black Knights plan to change that discrepancy this year, however, building on the momentum from last year's victory.