1957 - 58 Black Knights "Dawkins"
(Authentic Reproduction)




Blaik made changes in the Army uniform, maintaining the old gold helmet with the black one-inch center stripe while adding two-inch black thin "NCAA-style" numbers to each side of the shell. By 1957 all of the players' Riddell helmets were outfitted with one and two-bar masks. The line, other than C-LB Kernan needed retooling as promising end Bill Carpenter was injured in a summer jeep accident and lost for all but a brief late-season appearance and did not letter. Converted QB Pete Dawkins, teamed with soph HB Bob Anderson and FB Vince Barta made for a potent rush attack. Anderson was a big surprise, sweeping for an Army record 983 yards, fourteen TD's, and All American notice.  Dawkins added 665 yards and another eleven touchdowns. Don Usry and Bill Carpenter manned the ends in superior fashion. A tough 23-21 loss to Notre Dame was the only blemish on the surprising record against a tough schedule, going into the Navy contest. The rain and muddy conditions helped Navy secure a 14-0 score and the Eastern championship as Army finished 7-2. Entering his twenty-fifth year as a head coach, Blaik knew his 1958 squad was long on talent but short on depth. A 14-2 defeat of Notre Dame highlighted the campaign and a 14-all tie with Pitt was the downer. Going into the Navy game, it had by all measure, been a great season. QB Joe Caldwell proved to be an excellent signal-caller, using Blaik's "Lonely End" Offense that was designed to spread out the defense. The Lonely End Bill Carpenter never entered the huddle but seemingly knew where to be in order to most effectively block or catch. Opponents had to keep a man split wide to stay with him at all times, opening up the rushing lanes for Anderson and Dawkins. It was only later revealed that Carpenter received foot signals from Caldwell as he was setting the huddle. Anderson played on par with his '57 season, made a number of All American teams, but was overshadowed by Dawkins though he also led the squad with interceptions for the second consecutive year. Guard Bob Novogratz earned All America honors clearing the way for the talented backfield and Dawkins, a weight-trained product that built himself up from a 185-pound "down on the depth chart" QB to a 220-pound Heisman and Maxwell Trophy winner, led Army to the number three rank in the nation, a 22-6 victory over Navy, and an undefeated 8-0-1 record. On January 13, 1959 after eighteen years as Army's head coach, Colonel Blaik offered his resignation, retiring with a fantastic 121-33-10 record, two National Coach Of The Year awards, entry to the College Football Hall Of Fame, and a legacy that was carried on by fifteen assistant coaches who eventually became collegiate or professional head coaches, including Sid Gillman, Murray Warmath, and Vince Lombardi.
No one could have imagined that the youngster who was crippled by polio would grow to be a true-to-life American hero and legend but Pete Dawkins was, and remains that hero. He recovered from the disease that attacked so many children in the pre-1950's era prior to an effective vaccine and became a good high school athlete and student. He was a quarterback with little future at West Point but used a barbell set that remained hidden in his room to perform a rigorous program of resistance exercises after lights-out until he became a 220-pound speedster who gained the respect of the entire Academy. Teaming with Bob Anderson as twin rushing threats, he blossomed his junior season and swept through the Army schedule as a senior to win both the Heisman and Maxwell Trophies for the nation's third-best squad. Dawkins didn't stop there, becoming an Academy legend with a long list of accomplishments: Brigade Commander (the highest military rank in the Corps), academic star Cadet for achievement in the top five percent of the class, football captain, an All East selection and star of the hockey team, and class president. A Rhodes Scholar winner, he proved himself an outstanding rubgy player after quickly mastering the game and he went on to a military career that garnered two Bronze Stars For Valor, The Legion Of Merit, The Air Medal, The Meritorious Service Medal, and The Vietnamese Cross Of Gallantry. After becoming the Army's youngest general at the age of forty-five and retiring as a Brigadier General, Dawkins took his multiple graduate degrees into the business world and was highly successful on Wall Street. He eventually made an unsuccessful bid for the Senate, representing the State Of New Jersey, yet remains one of college football's and certainly one of West Point's legendary figures.

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