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Football looking up despite missing out on title
After witnessing just two wins in 2008, the Georgetown football faithful had to be confident that things could not get any worse in 2009. Then the unthinkable happened: the Hoyas lost every game on the schedule, finishing the season at a hopeless 0-11. At the time, few could have foreseen the turn of fortune that lay ahead.
Just two years later, the team is ending its season at 8-3, undefeated at home and in second place in the Patriot League. Using much of the same personnel from the last few seasons, the team put itself in a position to capture the conference title in the last week of the season before losing 34-12 to Lehigh.
“They have turned this football program around and they should all be proud of it,” head coach Kevin Kelly said. “This is a special group, and I’m appreciative of these guys because they stuck it out.”
Just reaching the de facto Patriot League championship game against Lehigh marked an unbelievable turnaround for a program that had been the laughingstock of the conference. This season was also a vindication of sorts for Kelly, who came into the season with a 9-45 record in his first five seasons as the Hoyas’ coach.
But it was not just the Hoyas’ on-field performance that demonstrated a marked change from previous seasons. The team saw the biggest road turnout during Kelly’s tenure at Georgetown, due in large parts to the efforts of Georgetown’s booster organization, the Gridiron Club, and its president, Bruce Simmons (COL ’69).
“We have over 900 alumni football players since 1963, all of whom played football at Georgetown because they loved to play football,” Simmons, a former Hoya quarterback and co-captain, said. “They’re committed to the program because Georgetown allowed them to play four more years of football that they may not have otherwise have had.”
According to Simmons, the team’s success is a testament to its teamwork and coaching, which have produced results despite the program’s financial challenges. Multi-Sport Field, he said, is “extremely poor,” and he pointed out that the team has the lowest annual funding of any Patriot League team by a large margin—$1.6 million for Georgetown compared to well over $3 million for every other team.
Some key seniors from this season’s team will be sorely missed next season, including star defensive end Andrew Schaetzke. The player Kelly constantly refers to as the best defensive player in the Patriot League will leave the program with 30.5 sacks, putting him second all-time on the Hoyas’ list and third in Patriot League history.
Though his last game as a Hoya resulted in a loss, the senior will look back on his and the Class of 2012’s role in turning around Georgetown football.
“Coach Kelly told us not to get too down on ourselves,” Schaetzke said. “Every one of these guys put their heart and soul into every play, so we just have to look back and celebrate a great season.”
Even without Schaetzke and classmates, the Hoyas will be at the forefront of the Patriot League discussion in 2012. With a squad full of young talent ready to grow from this year’s experience, they should be a force to reckon with.
With the return of most of their offense, including junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf, and linebacker Rob McCabe and cornerback Jeremy Moore starring on defense, preseason expectations for the team next year will be higher than any in recent memory.
But before looking ahead, Kelly encouraged his team to savor this moment. Regardless of what happens next year, putting together Georgetown’s first winning season since 1999 is an accomplishment that will stand on its own.
“No one will ever forget this football team,” Kelly said. “They might not realize it today, but someday they will understand it. We have to celebrate this season.”