Navy Notebook

Hampton likely out for season

Mids' starting QB position unsettled with 9th-ranked Notre Dame on deck

October 15, 2006|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

Navy coach Paul Johnson does not know who will start at quarterback Oct. 28, when Navy faces ninth-ranked Notre Dame at M&T Bank Stadium. It will either be sophomore Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada or sophomore Jarod Bryant, neither of whom made a strong case to be the No. 1 guy in yesterday's 34-0 loss to Rutgers. That issue will be decided during the next two weeks in practice.

But there is no denying the devastating effect of losing senior Brian Hampton early in yesterday's debacle. After suffering a dislocated left knee, Hampton likely is out for the season.

Kaheaku-Enhada, who ran for just 11 yards on 22 carries and passed for 28 more yesterday, nearly broke down after the game while talking about Hampton.

"I didn't know what to think," said Kaheaku-Enhada, his voice halting. "It's hard to see someone [get hurt like that]. He's like my brother. When he went down, I didn't know what to do."

Johnson said that Hampton, while he was down on the field, "kept apologizing to me. He was really crushed. There's nothing he could have done."

Said Charles Hampton, Brian's father, who watched the game from the stands: "I thought the Rutgers guys were just holding him down on the ground. Then, a gentleman in front handed me his binoculars and I looked and said, `Oh, my God.' My son asked me what was wrong. I said, `It's his knee. They got it.'"

Hampton, who thrust his index finger into the air while being carted off the field on his back, was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center and returned to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium after the game. Wearing a huge, soft cast on the knee and leaning on crutches, he said he knew the injury was bad as soon as he planted his foot, then went down awkwardly under the weight of Rutgers defensive tackle Ramel Meekins.

"I was just mad, because I knew I had to go out of the game. I didn't want to leave the field, especially due to injury," said Hampton, who said he got encouraging reports on the structure of his left knee. He expects to be re-evaluated tomorrow, after the swelling goes down.

"I had my foot planted in a position to move my body, not [Meekins'] and mine. I think it buckled under his weight," he added. "It's not something you expect, but when you play a contact sport, it's going to happen."

Post-Air Force letdown

In the wake of Navy's worst defeat in four years and its second homecoming loss since 2003, Johnson wondered whether the Midshipmen lost some of their emotional edge after beating Air Force on the road last week. That win put the Mids in excellent position to win their fourth straight Commander in Chief's Trophy.

"I was really concerned. We played such an emotional game [last week]," Johnson said. "I'll take some of the blame. I did a poor job of getting us ready to play, I guess."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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