`Stolen' trophy is found at Navy

College Football

December 01, 2005|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

Navy welcomed back its head coach from a brief scare yesterday, then received more good news last night.

The cherished, 170-pound Commander in Chief's Trophy, named in honor of the nation's president, was located intact after being stolen from the team locker room Monday night, apparently as a prank by Army supporters.

Navy has gained the trophy the past two years by winning the football competition among the three service academies. Normally, it is kept in a locked glass case in Bancroft Hall, a residence facility, but it was moved to the locker room for motivational reasons this week.

Upon discovery of the theft, Navy officials also found a note that said: "Before we win the football game on Saturday, we thought we would take the trophy. By the time you read this, it will be halfway to West Point."

That pronouncement proved false. The trophy was discovered in a storage room at Bancroft Hall.

"Put those Navy Seals on a reconnaisance mission and they'll come through every time," Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said jocularly. "It must have been the exchange cadets [from Army] who did it. It was a great effort. Now, we're going to chain it down with padlocks."

Coach Paul Johnson, who returned after experiencing sharp pains and a battery of hospital tests that turned out negative Tuesday, said of the original incident: "If it was West Point who took it, it probably took three or four of them to carry it. One of our guys put it in there."

Navy officials attributed the incident to the craziness that always surrounds this game.

Gladchuk said before the trophy's discovery: "Much as I'm concerned as to where it is, I'm still a little relaxed about it. It's inconceivable to me that it could be anywhere but here or Army. It's all in the spirit of the game, the week. I just want to see that baby show up Saturday."

He had promised a week ago to take the trophy to Philadelphia so the winner of the game could take it home. He will now be able to follow through on that vow.

Reaction was swift to the missing trophy.

"I'm pretty ticked about the whole thing," said wide receiver Mike Yokitis. "I don't know how somebody gets into our locker room with a combination lock on it. This gives us more motivation to play. The whole thing is we're going to have it at our place when the game's over."

"At first I didn't believe it," said co-captain Lamar Owens, the quarterback. "We work so hard, sweat through all these practices, to earn it and somebody just takes it. I'm pretty sure this has the whole team fired up. Not like you need the motivation because it's Army week but now I think the whole brigade is fired up. The sup [superintendent Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt] told them at lunch."

Johnson appeared none the worse for wear. "I may have passed a kidney stone or had a pinched nerve," he said. "I'm all right now."

"Practice wasn't the same without Coach Johnson," said linebacker Rob Caldwell. "There wasn't as much commentary. We offered him a red shirt [indicating an injured or ill player] but he wouldn't wear it."

"There was a sign of relief to see him," said Yokitis. "But he wasn't yelling as much as usual because we actually looked good today."

kent.baker@baltsun.com

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