Vince Warrick confirms this, saying he still gets ragged on by his West Point classmates for sending a son to Navy. "Matt is friends with some of the families of my classmates to the point that they think of him as a son," the elder Warrick said. "Except one day a year."

But Vince Warrick says he feels no misgivings about rooting against the Black Knights on game day. "It was kind of weird the first year, when he wasn't playing," he said. "But the next year, that was his first start, and I felt no anxiety or angst about it at all. The only Warrick who's ever bled on that field is Matt, so it's pretty easy to put being a parent first."

Navy defensive back Tra'ves Bush sounds less sure about the loyalties of his family members in the Army.

He always hears the jabs from them come the week of the game. His cousin, Rashad Mason, whom he regards as more like a brother, enlisted in the Army shortly before Bush committed to the academy. Mason, who works at the Pentagon, will be at the game Saturday.

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"I hope the family ties are greater," Bush said. "He might be rooting for me to do well but for Army to win."

Bush is a senior and says the feelings around Army-Navy are hard to describe for anyone who hasn't been directly involved.

"So much of our lives here are all about beating Army, and I'm pretty sure it's the same there," he said. "But it's a more mature rivalry, because we all understand that when the game is over, we're going to be working together to protect the country. The only difference between us and those guys are the colors and the name on our jerseys."

Navy defensive end Wes Henderson is reminded of that every year, when he meets his high school teammate and close friend Brian Austin for a post-game photo on the field. Austin is a running back for Army.

Henderson and Austin began riding their bikes and playing video games together as middle schoolers in Wexford, Pa., about 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh. They were both multi-sport athletes at North Allegheny High School.

"We're just a lot alike," Henderson said.

Henderson's father, Lother, was an Air Force fighter pilot, and his older brother, Nick, played football at Navy. So he pretty much knew where he wanted to go to college all along.

Austin actually credits Nick Henderson for inspiring his interest in the academies, though he says the early speculation had him going to Navy and Wes going to Air Force.

Both enjoyed the taunts that ensued when they realized they'd be lining up on opposite sides of the renowned rivalry.

"It was kind of cool, kind of funny," Henderson said. "But I don't think I knew how big it really was until I got here."

Henderson has become a vital pass rusher for Navy's defense, and Austin says it's still a little strange to see his buddy's face pop up on the video screen as Army goes over scouting reports for the big game.

Navy has beaten Army every year that Henderson has played, so he can only imagine how his friend has felt when they've gathered for those post-game photos, which also include Zach and Corey Watts, fellow Army players from North Allegheny.

The picture from last year shows Austin's mouth in a tight, unsmiling line after Navy held off Army in a 27-21 nail-biter.

"That game was the hardest loss I've ever been through in my career," he said. "I did not want to take that picture, to be honest. Losing that game is one of worst things a team can go through."

Henderson says he wouldn't dare talk trash in such a moment. Both he and Austin feel too much respect, for their friendship and for the greater bonds between players from both sides of Army-Navy

"Brian's my good friend," Henderson said. "Regardless of whether we win or lose, it makes it more fun and more meaningful for me to be able to stand out there with him."

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