Thirty years have passed but Kevin Czarnecki can still replay the final moments of the 1993 Army-Navy game in his head today.
Czarnecki, a three-year starting senior linebacker, and Army’s defense were on their heels as a 16-0 lead over Navy was about to be erased by a short field goal. Navy freshman kicker Ryan Bucchianeri missed a 18-yard kick as Army escaped with a 16-14 win.
“When I watch those (Throwback Thursday) videos and look at how that game played out from 30 years ago, I can see it like it was yesterday,” said Czarnecki, a guest on the Black Knight Nation podcast this week.
To this day, Czarnecki says nothing compared to singing second as the winner of the Army-Navy game his senior season.
“It’s a metaphor on life, never ever give up even when things are going as wrong as they can possibly go,” Czarnecki said. “You never ever give up and that’s what the game was all about. It was all about just stay in it, stay in it, continue to play and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Another one of Czarnecki’s fondest memories as an Army football player was the 25-24 win over Navy in 1992 on Pat Malcolm’s 49-yard field goal with 12 seconds left.
“Absolutely thrilling,” said Czarnecki, who still ranks fourth on Army’s all-time tackles list with 352.
Like many current and past West Point football players, Czarnecki was recruited by both Army and Navy out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. On his West Point recruiting trip, host and then team captain Anthony Noto took Czarnecki out to the academy’s plain.
“It was a snowy day as you could imagine and I’ll never forget there were these three or four deer that come across the plain and it changed my life,” said Czarnecki, whose father served in the Army reserves for 28 years. “I was like, ‘this is the place that I’m supposed to be. This is a sign that I’m supposed to be here.’ I really connected with the academy and its values, I realized it was the path of most resistance and that’s what drew me there.
“I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew it was going to be hard and that’s exactly what I wanted to do and I’ve never regretted that decision to this day.”
For our full interview with Kevin Czarnecki, watch the YouTube video below