Each week for the past two football seasons on this here blog, we hand out a weekly award called the C.I.C. MVP, given to the Service Academy football player who had the best performance in the past weekend’s slate of games. Last year, the award often went to Navy’s Malcolm Perry. This season, ownership of the award begins at West Point.
In Army’s 42-0 beat-down of Middle Tennessee State last Saturday, you could pick from several players when deciding who had the best performance.
Christian Anderson was solid, decisive and nearly mistake-free in running the option. Sandon McCoy had three touchdowns. Anthony Adkins scored too, and Jon Rhattigan intercepted a pass and ran it back 43 yards for a score. Indeed, in handing out the first C.I.C. MVP of the 2020 season, we had options.
But the Black Knight that consistently performed the best through the entirety of the game, the one that seemed to be everywhere on defense, the one that came up with a handful of stops on his own, was Cedrick Cunningham Jr.
The junior defensive back from Cassatt, South Carolina takes home the first C.I.C. MVP honors of this year.
Cunningham had five solo tackles on the day and led the team with a total of seven stops. He also tallied two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. The sack and forced fumble were the firsts of his collegiate career.
ARMY! Cedrick Cunningham forces the fumble, Jon Rhattigan recovers for Army! pic.twitter.com/m8itshC3nF— KÏŁŁÄ ČÄM (@FTBeard1) September 5, 2020
He also scooped up a fumble and ran it back for a score, but the call was overturned and ruled as an incomplete pass.
For his efforts, he was also named the Chuck Bednarik Award Player of the Week by the Maxwell Football Club — and who are we to argue with them?
Cunningham was an integral part of Nate Woody’s defense on Saturday which limited the Blue Raiders to 184 yards of total offense and registered the first shut-out at West Point since 2011.
“Our coaching staff and the game planning put us in a position to make a lot of plays today,” Cunningham said after the game. “We emphasized getting the ball back and we were able to do that. I think we played great complimentary football today and we went out and executed and played with fanatical effort.”
Appearing in 24 games over the past two seasons, Cunningham has been a regular contributor to Army’s defense. But if he plays out the rest of the season like he did on Saturday, he could become one of the top play-makers of the unit.