- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000

ANNAPOLIS The Navy football team suffered the biggest losses of its season even before the first kickoff.

The Midshipmen lost starting quarterback Brian Madden in the annual Blue/Gold spring game. Madden's meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament were reconstructed in May and he is out for the year after a promising sophomore season in which he emerged as the nation's top rusher among quarterbacks with 897 yards.

If that weren't bad enough, Navy, which demands moral strength from everyone at the Academy, received news that two football players were accused in an off-the-field incident. Cornerback Bas Williams and running back Dre Brittingham, both projected as starters, were indicted on rape charges and suspended indefinitely in July from all athletic activities by coach Charlie Weatherbie.

The two juniors are accused of attacking a female midshipman who had passed out at an off-campus party. Brittingham faces a second-degree rape charge, and up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Williams was indicted on a second-degree-sex-offense count and faces a sentence of up to 20 years. The two have been released on bond and no court date has been sent.

As the offseason comes to a close, and Navy prepares to open its season Saturday at 7 against Temple at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Weatherbie feels this adversity has brought his team closer together.

"The team has grown a lot closer together from last fall, from losing the close games [all but one loss was by less than seven points], from Brian Madden's injury, and the things that have taken place. We've responded well. You can adjust to adversity one of two ways you can branch out separately or it can bring us closer together. We're in this together."

If the Mids (5-7 a year ago) and Weatherbie can find any solace in losing a player of Madden's ability, it will come in the form of senior quarterback Brian Broadwater. Broadwater, who is a better pure passer than Madden, was no bum running Navy's option attack the first seven games last year before breaking his collarbone, amassing 626 yards on the ground for a team that led the nation in rushing yards.

It's just that Madden provided so much more for the Mids. While the Mids struggled to get going offensively under Broadwater, they sparked under Madden. Madden led the Mids to a winning record in the last five games en route to becoming the nation's top rusher among quarterbacks.

His 6-1, 221-pound-frame punished defenses, and kept opposing teams on its toes, as Madden could either go in-between or off the tackles utilizing his superior strength, or around the ends with his phenomenal speed. He showed signs of brilliance in his first career start against Notre Dame, running for 168 yards. Against Army, he crushed the Cadets in the Mids' 19-9 win, running for a career-high 177 yards, displaying more moves than Jimi Hendrix on a guitar.

Broadwater added 10 pounds in the offseason, which should provide him more durability in an offense that calls upon the quarterback to shoulder a great deal. Of the Mids' 680 carries last year, 364 came from quarterbacks. But neither Broadwater nor Navy will know how his stronger body will hold until he takes his first hit. He has not been hit in full gear since breaking his clavicle last October against Akron.

"I have been preparing myself to take a hit after wearing the red jersey [all summer]. Game speed is different than practice. When you run five or six plays and get rung up five or six times, it sort of wakes you up."

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