For Air Force’s senior class, the past two seasons haven’t brought the rewards it expected or desired. The Falcons’ seniors will exit the academy as the first to finish with consecutive losing seasons since the class of 1981. But they could give themselves a happy ending today by beating Army in their final game at Falcon Stadium (1:30 p.m.). “We’ve had a lot of good times and bad times on that field, a lot of memories on it,” senior nose guard Russ Mitscherling said. “It’s hard to part with anything that’s been the focus of your life for the past decade. I think our attitude, underclassman or senior, is, let’s win the game and go out on a good note in that stadium.” Air Force will play New Mexico in two weeks to finish the season, but today’s game could be the memory that lasts for departing players. It’s their final service academy game. The day also will include a traditional ceremony in which coach Fisher DeBerry shakes the hand of every senior player. “That’s a very emotional time for me because I really appreciate what our players put into playing football at the academy,” DeBerry said. “I’ll be emotional because I see a tear coming down their cheeks because they realize this will be the last game they’ll get to play in Falcon Stadium, and it’s a special place for them.” Senior Falcon back Denny Poland said he was expecting to feel lots of emotions during the ceremony. “There’s tons of memories from playing in that stadium, and any time you’re playing a service academy team, it’s a huge game,” he said. “I’ll probably think back to all the different guys I’ve played with, the plays that were made, stuff like that.” This senior class hasn’t had an easy run. During its career, the academy has received national attention for a sexual assault scandal, allegations of religious intolerance and, most recently, racially tinged comments by De-Berry. There have been tough times on the field as well, including three straight losses to Navy and a perplexing collapse this year. After starting 2-0, the Falcons have lost six of their past seven games. Tackle Ross Weaver said despite the frustrations, he’ll look back on a satisfying career. “The last two years have been disappointing, but all the work has paid off,” Weaver said. “If we went 12-0 this year and went to a bowl game, it would have been great, and I’d have loved every minute of it. But I think I’ve learned a lot from this season about losing and getting back up and continuing to fight. . . . “I think I’m better off going through that and not going undefeated. I’d trade it in a second, but I think I’ve learned a lot.” On a day when the focus will be on the seniors, it’s fitting that backup quarterback Adam Fitch will start in place of injured sophomore Shaun Carney (hand laceration). Recruited as a punter, Fitch became the No. 1 quarterback in spring 2004 before he suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon. He moved to halfback this summer but returned to quarterback this fall as a backup because of Luke Ewing’s injured knee. “This whole year, as well as my career, has been kind of a roller coaster, but I’ve enjoyed it,” Fitch said. “I can’t say I enjoyed the record. No one gets used to losing, but you just go out there and play and do the best you can do. And that’s kind of where we’re at right now — going out and playing for pride.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or email@example.com TODAY Army (1-6) at Air Force (3-6), 1:30 p.m., ESPN Classic (Adelphia 176), 740 AM, 560 AM Tickets available at gate, $19-$27.
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