The Air Force Falcons will play two football games this season against fellow service academies Army and Navy.
The Falcons’ abbreviated schedule includes hosting Navy on Oct. 3 and a trip to West Point, New York, to face Army on Nov. 7. The military academies compete annually for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, which goes to the academy with the best record in the round-robin competition.
The school announced Monday that only Air Force Academy cadets would be permitted to attend the game at Falcon Stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will social distance and wear masks. The base remains closed to the public.
“It’s certainly going to be a different game. It’s not going to look the same. It’s not going to feel the same,” Air Force director of athletics Nathan Pine said in a video posted on the school’s website. “But we’re going to have an opportunity to play Navy and that’s really important for the young men in our football program and really important for the physical mission at the academy. It’s something that is every bit worth the effort.”
Navy currently has possession of the trophy after beating both schools last season.
Air Force was in a holding pattern after its conference, the Mountain West, decided in August to postpone fall sports due to COVID-19 concerns. The team has been practicing since Aug. 24 in compliance with protocols.
No. 22 Army is off to a 2-0 start after beating Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana-Monroe. The Black Knights have 12 games listed on their schedule, but the contest against BYU has been postponed. The school’s athletic director took to Twitter in an effort to find a replacement.
Navy lost 55-3 to BYU on Sept. 7. The Midshipmen have 11 games listed, including Army on Dec. 12.
Last season, Air Force finished 11-2, which included a loss to Navy and a win over Army. The Falcons beat Washington State in the Cheez-It Bowl as they closed the season with an eight-game winning streak. It was their longest since 1998.
Coach Troy Calhoun returns a strong nucleus that includes inside linebacker Demonte Meeks, along with offensive linemen Parker Ferguson and Nolan Laufenberg. They were all named to the preseason all-Mountain West team.
The team plans to unveil a new uniform for the Navy game. The theme will be based around the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African American unit to fly combat airplanes in World War II.
“The Red Tails and the Tuskegee Airmen are a great piece of Air Force heritage,” Pine said.