- The Washington Times - Friday, December 5, 2003

After a narrow victory over Army three years ago, Navy linebacker Eddie Carthan walked off the field in Baltimore thinking it was just the beginning.

He was one of three freshman starters on defense, and the win gave Navy something positive to take away from an otherwise winless season.

Only it wasn’t a beginning. It was an anomaly.

That victory over the Black Knights was the Midshipmen’s only one in Carthan’s first two seasons under coach Charlie Weatherbie. He missed the final four games of his sophomore season after undergoing toe surgery and watched his teammates fall to Army just months after September11.

Last season Carthan emerged as the Mids’ defensive playmaker but was sidelined again for the Army game with bleeding on the brain, a condition diagnosed just days earlier. His frustration was tempered by the Mids’ 58-12 victory, but afterward he told the coaching staff, “That one wasn’t mine. I’m getting mine next year.”

Now a senior co-captain, Carthan is hoping to make up for lost time as he leads the Mids (7-4) into today’s 104th meeting with Army (0-12).

“I learned not to take things for granted after the past couple years,” Carthan said. “Sophomore year, I hurt my toe on the last play of a Wednesday practice and last year I missed the game because of an injury I felt during weight lifting. They were two pretty freak injuries that took me out instantly.”

Unlike senior quarterback Craig Candeto, whose Navy football career will be defined by last year’s record-setting six-touchdown performance against Army, Carthan won’t be remembered for a single event. Instead, he’ll go down as the emotional catalyst of a team that restored pride to Navy football.

He carried each of the 30 losses he endured in his first three years (the most in three consecutive seasons in Navy history) and used them to fuel his desire so he could end his career with a memorable season. His goal was simple: eliminate the embarrassment.

The Mids didn’t win a game in Annapolis in his first three years. He helped erase memories of that 0-15 mark with a 4-1 effort at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this season.

The Mids haven’t won the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy since 1981, less than five months after Carthan was born. He helped the team beat Air Force earlier this season, and a win today will give the Mids the trophy for the ninth time in the 32-year-old competition among the three service academies.

“Once he was named a captain, he took on more of a vocal role,” linebackers coach Kevin Kelly said. “He had always been a lead-by-example guy before that, but he’s done well adjusting to the role, and I think it fits his personality.”

Yet Carthan hasn’t completely shed his old role. His 111/2 tackles for losses, five sacks and four interceptions all lead the team, but big numbers from him aren’t a surprise. Pregame speeches are.

Against TCU in the second week of the season, Carthan watched the team waltz through warmups before questioning its desire in the locker room. An inspired Navy team led 3-0 at halftime before losing 17-3 to a team that went on to contend for a berth in a major bowl game.

He again challenged his teammates before the Air Force game, and the Mids beat the Falcons 28-25 for their first win over a ranked team in 18 years.

“He just tells it like it is,” senior slotback Tony Lane said. “He’s been getting pretty good at [giving speeches], so I think we’ll hear from him again before the game.”

Army can expect to hear from him shortly after.


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