By Mike Strasser, West Point Public AffairsDecember 8, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 8, 2011) -- A heavy downpour did nothing to diminish the spirit of the Corps of Cadets as they gathered on Daly Field here, Dec. 7, to send off the Army Black Knights.
The Rabble Rousers, West Point's cheer team, fired up the Corps inside the Cadet Mess Hall, before leading thousands outside for the traditional spirit rally and bonfire.
Cadet First Captain Charlie Phelps (Class of 2012) told the Corps to rally behind the Black Knights against Navy this Saturday, as they have all season long.
"The 12th Knight is no joke," Phelps said. "How we rally behind our team will be a decisive factor in the game."
The 12th Knight represents the army of loyal followers who fill the stadiums wherever the Black Knights compete.
"This has been an up and down year and we've been gut-checked a few times, but you all stuck with us," Army Coach Rich Ellerson said. "I'm telling you, every time you've all been there we have played out of our minds. And you're all going to be there on Saturday."
Ellerson said along with the strong Corps support, strong senior leadership on the team will be a huge factor for Army.
"It's obvious we play our best football behind that mass of gray when the Corps is out there getting loud," Army Black Knights co-captain Max Jenkins (Class of 2012), said. "This Saturday we're going to need that excitement and enthusiasm when we take the field against Navy."
Team captains lit the bonfire which consumed the sacrificial "Beat Navy" boat, as cadets cheered and danced in the rain.
The West Point Marathon Team was handed a ceremonial game football and exited the gates to begin their 280-mile run to FedEx Field in Landover, Md. At about 6 a.m. on Dec. 8, the runners stopped at the Ground Zero site in New York City to honor the fallen West Point and Naval Academy graduates who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terrorism.