October 6, 2010

Knights looking to rebound

For senior defensive end Marcus Hilton, Saturday's upcoming game against Tulane will begin the final half stretch of his football career at Army.

For the Bronx, New York native, who was raised within an easy ride up the Palisades Parkway to the West Point campus � he is hoping to open up the 2nd half of the season better than he and his teammates closed it out in their loss to Temple.

Although Hilton has his own version of what happen or did not happen against Temple, he also knows that the 2010 team goals are still attainable and that 4th quarter of the last Saturday's game is in the rear view mirror. "Our mindset is always the same and that is to finish, but against Temple the game got a little out of hand," shares the 6-foot-0, 247 pound defender.

"The defense as a whole, we weren't playing our assignments, playing with our eyes and seeing our keys � that hurt us a lot."

"We just didn't play the way we were capable of playing. Training and just before the season, we have trained hard and pushed ourselves; no matter how big the team is � 4th quarter physically we are there to compete as well and we don't use our opponent size as an excuse � and that wasn't the case for us," he says, as he refutes any ideas that Temple's size wore down the Black Knights defense.

According to Hilton and despite the let down against Temple, the goals that were established at the beginning of the season are still very much a part of the Black Knight identity.

"Yes, our four goals pretty much detail and entail everything we want to do as a team," he says. "Coming into the season we knew we had the right coaching staff, the right players, right philosophy and the right mindset to accomplish great things this season. The team spirit is at an all time high for the four years that I have been here and the optimism is very high as well. I feel that when those two things along with everyone knowing that we can win and we are good � it's not a cockiness, it's a factor that knowing that we can compete with anybody that we play with. That's one of the biggest things that I have seen coming into this season."

And Saturday will be their newest test in fortitude as that take on a Tulane team that just came off an upset win over Rutgers and will be back on familiar soil for their Homecoming.

"We are human and that loss did soak in for a day, but Sunday when we came back out to practice it was all about winning the next game and the next game is Tulane," Hilton says.

"And we have to start that off right � you can't go preparing for another team still thinking about the past, the past is no longer there and we are going on to the present and future which is Tulane."

"They (Tulane) bring a lot of interesting schemes to their offense � they will play with your eyes, and if you are sound and you don't' play your assignment versus other peoples assignment you will get gassed. You also have to stop their run."

The West Point Factor

Like all his fellow teammates, Hilton wants to be part of the group that can lay claim to the resurgence of Army football. But even with that, Hilton knows that just attending and eventually graduating from West Point has a special meaning all by itself.

"I think it's probably fate that brought me to West Point," he declares.

"Former Superintendent (General) Lennox graduated from my high school (Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx) and I didn't even know that.

He was one of the big factors that lead me here. He just called my house � it was an unexpected call, but the rest is history. Obviously we are a time of war and a lot of things that would make West Point an unattractive school to come to. But I looked at the benefits and the future that being here could bring me, as well as me becoming a man versus just going to a regular school; not that there's anything wrong with that. As a person I wanted to be part of something bigger than that and when it's all said and done, I can say that I have done something that not a lot of people have done."

For Hilton, who plays the run and pass equally as effective, also takes satisfaction out of playing opposite of Army's all-time sack leader, Josh McNary. However, Mr. Hilton also enjoys the pleasure of putting a quarterback on his back as well. "Josh can do the same thing (run/pass), but he's a prolific pass rusher which separates him from every other defensive end."

"Obviously I get great satisfaction out of the sack � it gets me real hyped or picking up a fumble for a touchdown that I almost did against Hawaii."

My response to Marcus about his attempted touchdown scamper. "I think you may need to get those legs up more."

"You're not kidding," says Hilton, as he laughs at the visual.

Although Hilton knows that Tulane is the goal this weekend, he can't help but think from time to time that later this year he will have an opportunity to play in his own back yard. That place will be the New Yankee Stadium that is just minutes from his old stomping ground in the Bronx.

"I think every game is important," says Hilton, when asked which game on the schedule that he was anxiously looking forward to. "But the game against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium is the biggest because I'm from there �. Just 10 minutes away. Knowing that I'm back home and that is the place of my favorite sports team (Yankees) � I can't wait.

But first for Hilton and his teammates, that have to take care business against the Green Wave of Tulane.

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