Junior Michael Dereus led Georgetown in receptions and yards last season, catching 46 passes for 696 yards.

After finishing last season 1-10 following 10 straight losses, Georgetown’s football team is hoping their incoming freshmen players and wealth of experienced veterans can turn the program around and leave their defeats in the past. Under a new offensive coordinator, strong defense and returning corps of wide receivers, the Hoyas have reason to believe that they can compete in the Patriot League.

Rob Sgarlata will return for his fifth year as the team’s head coach, and is optimistic about the offseason adjustments the team has made. “The coaches did a great job bringing the right kids into this freshman class, but our core group of returning players and coaches took a hard look on what we need to do to get rolling in the right direction. We talked about winning every day. It’s not just about the scoreboard at the end of the game. It’s how you attack practice, get to class and handle the locker room too,” Sgarlata said.

Georgetown’s offense will be under new supervision this season as offensive coordinator Rob Spence joins the team’s staff. Spence brings more than 25 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Hilltop. Spence notably has served as the offensive coordinator at Clemson, Syracuse and Toledo over the course of his career.

He will mentor a talented group of returning wide receivers, including the Hoyas’ two leading receivers from the 2017 season, junior Michael Dereus and senior Brandon Williams. Dereus totaled 46 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns, highlighted by an 83-yard grab against Columbia. Deep threat Williams ranked second on the team in 2017 with 24 receptions for 346 yards. Williams will be this year’s recipient of the No. 35 Joe Eacobacci Memorial Jersey, annually awarded to a player who showcases outstanding character on and off the field in memory of Eacobacci, a 1996 graduate who died in the Sep. 11 attacks.

Multiple quarterbacks will compete to take the reins and guide the offense, although junior Gunther Johnson is the expected starter for the Hoyas’ season opener against Marist. Johnson started in four of the eight games he played in last season and finished 2017 with a 49 percent completion percentage, throwing for 1,026 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 258 yards and an additional four touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Georgetown boasted a stifling defense last season, holding opponents to 14 points or less in four games. They return junior defensive lineman Khristian Tate, an All-Patriot League First Team member who led the Blue and Gray with 12.5 tackles-for-loss and five sacks. Tate also recorded two defensive touchdowns last season. Sophomores Duval Paul, who tallied 31 tackles and two sacks, and Kingsley Umemba, who recorded 16 tackles and one sack, will also return to the defensive line.

Six freshmen and four returning sophomores will hold the linebacker position. They are led by sophomore Wes Bowers, who made 57 tackles last season.

In the secondary, the Hoyas will need to replace leading tackler David Akere (COL ’18), who graduated last year. However, eight defensive backs who saw game action last year, including seniors Blaise Brown and Ramon Lyons, two lockdown defenders the Hoyas will rely on this season, will return to the field.

Regarding the senior class as a whole, Sgarlata said, “I really respect them for all the hard work they put in, sticking it out with us and believing in the process in what we are doing. I’m really impressed with the way that they have embraced the freshman and sophomore classes and made it a priority to make sure that they know what we are doing and how we are doing it.”

Highlights on the team’s schedule include a rematch against Campbell University, who the Hoyas beat 16-10 in the 2017 season opener. The squad then hosts Columbia on homecoming weekend Sept. 22. The Hoyas will finish the season at home against Holy Cross in what will be Senior Day for members of this year’s graduating class.

However, Sgarlata said, “I’m not really worried about the opponents, I am worried about taking care of our own house and doing the little things right every day.”

Sgarlata will lead the Hoyas into their season opener, a non-conference away game against the Marist Red Foxes in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The game will be held on Saturday, Sept. 1. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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