Falcons coach fires up home crowd for Independence Bowl

  • Published
  • By Maja Z. Stevanovich
  • Air Force Global Strike Command
The term "home team" will have special meaning to the Airmen of Air Force Global Strike Command when two of the nation's top college football ground attacks take the field in Shreveport, La., for the Independence Bowl Dec. 27.

The U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons, with the nation's second best rushing game, will square off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who own the best rushing attack in college football.

The game will take place at Independence Stadium, just down the road from the command's headquarters here.

Coming off three straight regular season wins, the Falcons are led by Coach Troy Calhoun, who recently visited AFGSC senior leaders to rally support as his team prepares for the big game.

The Falcons are pushing for a big turnout of Air Force faithful from the Shreveport-Bossier community that could make it feel like a home-field advantage for the Academy.

Coach Calhoun said the freedoms Americans enjoy every day are earned through the service and dedication of those in the military.

Academy football players "represent more than just the Academy," and owe much of their success to the fact that they represent the Air Force as a whole, he said.

Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and a 1973 Air Force Academy graduate, said the team can expect strong local support.

"The good citizens of the Shreveport-Bossier area have always been such great supporters of Barksdale Air Force Base," General Klotz said. "So, we're absolutely delighted that the Air Force Academy Falcons are playing in this year's Independence Bowl."

"It'll be a spectacular event," he said. "Not only will our Airmen and their families get to watch some really great football in person, they'll also have a chance to see a B-52 (Stratofortress) flyover, and the Academy's Wings of Blue parachute team. Thousands of cheering Air Force fans will really give the Falcons a big boost to victory."

Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force Chief of Staff and an Air Force Academy graduate, will also attend the game.

The game represents the Academy's fourth consecutive bowl appearance under Coach Calhoun, a 1989 graduate of the school. In his fourth season at the helm, Coach Calhoun masterminds a rushing game that averages nearly 318 yards a game. Georgia Tech chews up an average of 327 yards on the ground per game.

"We have a great football team that goes through the rigors and demands of the Academy so that one day they can serve," Coach Calhoun said. "Thank you for being a great example to them."

Notes: Air Force played in the Independence Bowl in 1983 and 1984, winning both contests. Air Force and Georgia Tech have not played each other since 1979. The Academy won this year's Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, awarded to the top service academy football program, having defeated both Navy and Army. This year, all three of the service academies qualified and were invited to participate in post-season bowl games.