FORT KNOX, Ky. — Wins and losses.
At the end of any given football season, that’s often the standard by which teams are judged. By all accounts this season, the Fort Knox Eagles football team may be on the right track to stand up to such scrutiny, according to Eagles head coach Wes Arnold.
“We have a lot of good skill,” said Arnold. “I start four seniors on the offense and defense lines. That’s where you win a lot of games is up front, so I’m very excited about that.”
Arnold said not only does this year’s team boast the largest number of seniors, it also fields the largest number of players in recent memory: 48. As well, many of the players have been weight training since January to prepare for the season.
“I think that’s our strength this year. We’re a very physical team,” said Arnold. “Not only do we have the biggest team in numbers, this is definitely the strongest team I’ve had. It’s all there this year.”
Their strength paid off against a stubborn Shawnee in their Aug. 19 season opener, which was also their Senior Night, filled with fanfare and celebration.
Fort Knox lost the coin toss, but capitalized on it after shutting down Shawnee’s hard hitting running game to put points on the board early in the first quarter from a breakaway sideline run by Josh Carlson.
The failed extra point conversion led to an eventual equalizer by Shawnee midway in the third quarter.
Deep in the fourth quarter, a solid Eagles drive to Shawnee’s endzone looked promising for at least an additional six points until they were stopped cold on a fourth-down play at the 5-yard line.
The Eagles defense dug their heels in and pushed Shawnee back to the 1-yard line before Alsadra Wilson capitalized on a run to capture Shawnee in their own endzone for the 2-point safety.
The Eagles seized enough first downs afterward to be run out the clock; the final was 8-6.
“We had a lot of mental mistakes out there. The kids know what to do, but it was just a weird night I guess,” said Arnold. “It’s one of those that you look at it and go, ‘a win is a win.’ The record book says we’re 1 and 0, and that’s what matters.”
Arnold said while he’s not focusing any further ahead in the season than the next game – against Sayre Aug. 26 – he has taken some notice of their Army rival Fort Campbell when they will face off at the annual Army Bowl Sept. 16.
The Eagles have held onto the trophy for the past two games against the Falcons. This year’s game will be played at Fort Campbell.
“They have a new coach who is celebrated,” said Arnold. “They also won their game Friday night, so I expect it to be a battle.”