The Georgetown football team begins its season next week, returning to action with a road contest against Davidson College on Sept. 4. That will begin their first test away from home, as they continue their season with matchups against longtime rival Yale and conference foe Lafayette later in the fall.

The Georgetown community will not see the team in action until Sept. 25 at MultiSport Facility against one of the preseason Patriot League favorites, Holy Cross. Just one win in the three weeks prior would help Hoya fans forget about a dismal 2009 season, which saw the Blue and Gray finish the year in last place in the Patriot League with a winless 0-11 season.

Last season, the Hoyas’ key issue was putting the ball in the end zone, as the team averaged merely 9.6 points per game, despite their open spread-style offense. The Hoyas began with a fruitful recruiting season, as the team brought in 34 freshmen to their team. Additionally, the coaching staff underwent a significant overhaul this offseason, with the installation of a new offensive coordinator, David Patenaude, as the most significant change.

He realized the difficulties the offense faced last year, but feels the work they have put in this offseason will reap benefits once the season begins.

“We started from ground zero when we first got here,” Patenaude said. “We instituted a new system in the spring – brand new terminology, philosophy. The guys have done a really good job of what we’re trying to do, buying into the system, and now we’re starting to see the fruit of their labor.”

With the season only a week away, Patenaude hopes to solidify the quarterback position early on this season, as the position presented a revolving door in 2009, with James Brady, sophomore Isaiah Kempf, and juniors Scott Darby and Tucker Stafford all seeing time behind center. Near the end of last season, however, Darby established himself as the starter, but it remains a competition between the incumbent and Kempf. According to Patenaude, there will be a defined starter, but the Hoyas’ redefined spread offense will involve both Kempf and Darby seeing considerable playing time this season.

“They’re both really good players in this league, both present their own strengths,” Patenaude said. “We’re going to make a decision probably Saturday. They’re both going to play a lot of football this year . it’s even feasible that we play two quarterbacks in a game.”

No matter who’s throwing the ball, they will have three senior offensive linemen, including offensive captain Dan Semler, protecting them. Despite their veteran presence, Georgetown’s quarterbacks found themselves on the ground 37 times last year, sacked the most of any team in the Patriot League. Patenaude, however, is excited about the offensive-line’s play and progression, and is especially eager for the younger guys to step up to fill the two open positions.

“The senior guys have played really well” he said. “Erik Antico has really picked his game up from the spring. The two tackles [Semler and Rob Bates] are really good players in this league.”

The skill players around them are led by senior starting tailback Philip Oladeji and senior wide receiver Keerome Lawrence. Patenaude lauded last year’s leading rusher, Oladeji, and Lawrence, on their talent. In particular, he noted Lawrence’s size as an underrated dimension of his game: “Keerome is probably the most explosive guy, but people don’t realize he’s 215 pounds, so he can bounce off of people and outrun them.”

As far as the rest of the pool, the coaching staff feels they are very deep and all capable of stepping up. Hoya fans should especially look out for junior Chance Logan, as he is expected to start in the backfield with Oladeji. Logan emerged from this training camp as their most explosive weapon after moving back to his natural position from the slot.

Coach Kevin Kelly, entering his fifth season as Georgetown’s head coach, is also quite excited about the new offense.

“It’s gone well,” he commented. “The kids have done a great job picking it up. It’s always a concern when we put in a new scheme, but the coaching staff has done a great job.”

He is certainly looking forward to moving on from a frustrating season, where a couple of unlucky plays certainly made the difference between wins and losses.

The results, however, do show that all was not lost in the 2009 campaign.

Despite their poor season record-wise, the Hoya defense was one of the best in the Patriot League, led by arguably the best linebacking core in the conference. Led by senior defensive captain Nick Parrish, Georgetown will look to fill voids in the defense left by the graduation of defensive end Chudi Obianwu and others this year. Parrish led the Patriot League with 110 tackles last year and is widely recognized as one of the conference’s best, as he was recently named to the 2010 Preseason FCS Senior Scout Bowl All-American Team and Phil Steele’s 2010 All Patriot League First Team.

As a leader, his attitude reflects that of the team, and he is itching to get the season started to redeem the 2009 season.

“A lot of things are brand-new. We also have to build from the positives of last year and build on, just the memory of what it felt like . the results,” he reflected. “We want to have that fuel us for next year.”

He is joined along the middle with mainstays Patrick O’Donnell and Paul Sant’Ambrogio, both of whom are also in their senior seasons.

“It’s great to have a veteran group on defense … we’re pretty hungry,” Parrish commented.

Kelly has faith in his defense, especially the linebackers after their stellar play in 2009.

“There’s a lot of communication that goes on. The linebackers are kind of the glue between the front and the back end. We have good leadership there.”

In addition to the linebackers, the majority of the defense remains as junior defensive end Andrew Schaetzke, also on Phil Steele’s First Team, anchors a defensive line that features five seniors, including returning starters Dan Lenihan and George Cullen.

The Hoyas will also return one of their best starters in junior defensive back Wayne Heimuli after an injury ended his sophomore season early. Juniors Jayah Kaisamba and David Quintero will help Heimuli keep the passing game in check this season as well.

The Hoyas are hungry to succeed this season and that starts with Parrish and the rest of the senior class. The group remains confident and has one goal in mind according to their captain: “We break it down every day – win the Patriot League, that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Striving to go from worst to first, though lofty, is a common team goal, stretching from Coach Kelly down to the players. His Hoyas expect to win every week, but he realizes they need to take things one game at a time.

After next week’s opener versus Davidson, Hoya fans should know just how realistic the team’s aspirations are.

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