Navy captains not front and center

Role changes and injuries have pushed Malinowski, Bowen from field limelight

College Football

November 21, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - Normally, the captains of any football team are pivotal players, star quarterbacks or crunching linebackers whom teammates look to for big plays.

But when winless Navy makes its final quest for victory this season against rival Army Dec. 1 at Veterans Stadium, its senior captains are likely to be only peripherally involved in the game.

With the return of Brian Madden in late September, quarterback Ed Malinowski's role became reduced to duty on special teams and holding for the placement team. And linebacker Jake Bowen was injured early in the season's second game and has played only sparingly since.

"It's been more discouraging than disappointing," Bowen said. "You feel helpless. You're just a cheerleader. But this is Army, and despite what the doctors say, I'm going to play."

Bowen's tendon that supports the arch in his left foot was diagnosed as shredded. He was placed in a boot cast for a time, but talked his way out of it. He still wears the cast to bed, but walks without it.

He has made only token appearances since the injury occurred, making a tackle against Air Force, in stark contrast to last season when he returned from a Mormon mission to Brazil to make 72 tackles, second on the team.

In the off-season, he was delightfully surprised when teammates voted him the defensive captain because he was not even around when most of the current players arrived.

So, he can sympathize with Malinowski, who he said "missed the preseason glory and recognition of being a captain."

Malinowski became the offensive captain when Madden was suspended for two games for his role in an incident involving the theft of a Baltimore parking meter. He shared the quarterback's job with sophomore Craig Candeto early, but, since Madden's return, has received virtually no action behind center.

"It's been kind of a strange year," Malinowski said. "I expected to play a little bit more at quarterback. But Brian came back and he was the coach's preference. He's a big guy and a good runner. But this has been tough in my last year of football."

Last year, Malinowski shared the job with Brian Broadwater and had a team-high five rushing touchdowns.

With no alternative, he volunteered for special teams. "I'm not just a quarterback, I'm a football player," he said. "I would do whatever I could to help this team win."

Despite their relative inactivity on the field, interim coach Rick Lantz wouldn't have anyone else leading Navy onto the field against the Cadets.

"It's normal in most colleges for captaincies to be popularity contests," Lantz said. "Around Navy, we're looking for leadership, who will represent us well with the brigade. It's not a social position.

"If we're going to change anything, I tell these guys ahead of time. There were a couple of things I would have liked to have done, but they felt the result would be negative, so I didn't do them."

Malinowski said he hopes to stay around the academy for six months after graduation to assist the coaching staff, then enter Marine infantry training at Quantico.

Bowen is unsure of his future, but must make a decision in early January.

Both understand that if the current international climate remains unchanged, they could soon be in the middle of a conflict.

"I lived in Brazil. I know what a privilege it is to live here in America," Bowen said. "If it becomes my duty to be in harm's way, so be it."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.