Hopes are high for the Georgetown football team under Head Coach Rob Sgarlata. Now in his third season at the helm for the Hoyas, the energetic coach has his team looking to escape the cellar of the Patriot League standings and earn respect from its conference foes. After going 4-7 last season, and 3-8 the year before, Georgetown is looking to reach .500 for the first time in five years.

The team kicked off its season last Saturday with a dominant 38-14 win over the Davidson Wildcats (0-1) at Cooper Field. Senior quarterback Tim Barnes passed for four touchdowns in his first start after taking over for last year’s starting quarterback, Kyle Nolan (MSB ‘16). Nolan was a two-year starter and helped stabilize the most important position for the team.

Until Saturday, Barnes had not started a game since freshman year against Fordham University. The senior from Oradell, N.J., was given the Joe Eacobacci No. 35 Memorial Jersey this year. The jersey is awarded to the student-athlete who best embodies Eacobacci’s spirit and memory.

“Timmy’s one of those guys you want people saying he’s a Georgetown football player on and off the field. He holds himself to an extremely high standard and he’s done a good job of raising the level of the entire offense and the team,” Sgarlata said.

Elsewhere on offense, Georgetown has to fill the voids left by running back Jo’el Kimpela and wide receiver Jake DeCicco, who both graduated. Kimpela, last year’s No. 35 jersey recipient, was the team’s leading rusher, while DeCicco was the team’s No. 2 pass-catcher behind then-junior wide receiver Justin Hill. Senior running back Alex Valles from Danvers, Mass. will replace Kimpela as the lead back. At wide receiver, Georgetown will rely on several wideouts to replace DeCicco’s production, including junior receivers Justin Harrell and Jimmy McLaughlin, and sophomore receiver Brandon Williams.

“Lots of young guys have stepped up,” Barnes said. “Young guys step up with guys graduating; and at the skill positions, we have guys like Harrell and [senior tight end Matt] Buckman, so we got a lot of weapons.”

A lot will be asked of Hill, who was named to the All-Patriot League Second Team last season. He scored eight touchdowns last season, and also averaged 13.8 yards per reception.

“I’m hoping to be First Team All-[Patriot] League this year. Doing big things, making big plays, hoping to step up when my number’s called,” Hill said.

On defense, Georgetown graduated All-Patriot League First Team cornerback Ettian Scott and All-Patriot League Second Team linebacker Matt Satchell, along with a few other important players.

In the secondary, junior safety David Akere takes over for Scott as the leader of the group.

“I was speaking to Ettian today, and he talks to me every day, keeping me encouraged and keeping all the guys encouraged. He told us when it’s time to make a play you got to step up and make that play. Just be confident about it,” Akere said.

Akere, along with Barnes, was named a captain of the team for this season. Georgetown will rely on the hard-hitting ball-hawk from Carrollton, Texas, to help continue the Georgetown defense’s reputation for being aggressive and fast. Junior cornerback Jelani Williamson will fill in for Scott at the outside corner position. Williamson started seven games last season and finished the season with 37 tackles and six pass breakups.

Senior defensive end Hunter Kiselick returns to the team for a fifth year, after being granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA due to an injury earlier in his collegiate career. Last season, Kiselick served as a team captain and started all 11 games. His return is a huge boost to the team, and he will team up with senior defensive end Phil Novacki to help the Hoyas generate some pressure up front.

Transfer junior linebacker Cameron Seward from Boston College will help offset the loss of Satchell. Seward redshirted his freshman year at BC and will have two years of eligibility on the Hilltop.

“At our linebacker position, we have some new transfer linebackers and we also have our D-line — it’s full of talent, big talent, guys who have high motors and just keep on running,” Akere said.

Junior defensive end Elijah English, sophomore defensive lineman Brennen Sawicki and junior defensive lineman Kendall Catching will be called to the front seven to help make up for the departures of Satchell and defensive lineman Dez Richardson.

“You definitely lose some guys who were big-time players for you. I think as we get three years into this with our recruiting classes, you know hopefully you have guys who are developing behind them and are fighting for time and pushing the competition up,” Sgarlata said.

“Up front on defense, you have two kids vying for the two inside spots. In the past, there wouldn’t be much competition and pressure.”

This season’s schedule promises to be as tough as last year’s, with Georgetown slated to play three games this year against Ivy League teams. This year’s Homecoming Weekend game will be against the Columbia Lions (0-0) on Sept. 24, then the Hoyas will travel to Cambridge, Mass., to play the Harvard Crimson, a matchup that has been lopsided in favor of the Crimson in the past.

Georgetown closes out with two of its last three games at Cooper Field and will wrap up the season on Nov. 19 at Colgate University.

“This is the most competitive camp we’ve run in maybe the last five or eight years, definitely the most competitive one I’ve run,” Sgarlata said. “It’s a good group. Really high football intelligence group of kids and I’m really excited to see them play.”

It has been a long, slow road back to respectability for the Georgetown football team, but the hope around the team is that this is the year the Hoyas finally turn some heads in the Patriot League.

The team faces Marist College Saturday at 6 p.m. in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

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