FOOTBALL | McCabe Leads Five Honorees
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 01:11
The Georgetown football team (5-6, 2-4 Patriot League) did not come close to achieving its lofty goals of winning the Patriot League this season, but last week’s announcements of the postseason conference awards did provide a small consolation prize.
After finishing as league runners-up in 2011, the Hoyas were derailed by injuries throughout the 2012 campaign and ended the season on a particularly sour note thanks to a 24-0 walloping at the hands of Holy Cross (2-9, 2-4 Patriot League).
The loss was especially difficult for the team’s 17 graduating seniors, who endured a miserable 0-11 2009 season but played a big role since then in turning the program around.
“This program was about as low as it could be when [the seniors] first got here,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “They’ve done a good job to get to a point where we’ve got winning seasons and are playing for Patriot League championships.”
Last Tuesday’s awards served as validation for the entire senior class and, above all, team captain and star middle linebacker Robert McCabe. McCabe — who led the entire FCS this season with an astounding 159 tackles — was awarded Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year honors and was also named to the all-Patriot League first team for a second consecutive year.
The distinctions were a fitting end to what was a record-breaking senior year for the Pennsylvanian, who broke both the Georgetown single-season and career tackle records in decisive fashion this fall. McCabe is the second straight member of the Blue and Gray to earn defensive player of the year honors, following in the footsteps of since-graduated defensive end Andrew Schaetzke. The linebacker is also a finalist for the FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the best defensive player in the FCS and will be named on Dec. 17.
“I don’t know if you can replace a guy like [McCabe],” Kelly said. “I hope he has an opportunity to be the National Defensive Player of the Year. He’s an excellent football player.”
Joining McCabe on the all-Patriot League first team was dynamic senior cornerback Jeremy Moore, who was fifth in the FCS with five interceptions. The Connecticut native lived up to Kelly’s touting of him as a “big-play person”, shattering the Georgetown and Patriot League interception return yardage records this season and scoring two defensive touchdowns in the process.
Junior outside linebacker Dustin Wharton, who converted from his former position at safety, was the final first-team honoree after breaking the 100-tackle threshold for a second year in a row and recording 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Junior running back Nick Campanella, sophomore wideout Kevin Macari and junior offensive lineman James Spaly were each named to the second-team offense. Campanella, a bruising runner, found the end zone seven times during the year, while Spaly anchored an offensive line that often struggled during the season.
Macari was the Blue and Gray’s breakout player on offense, emerging as one of the conference’s top pass-catchers. The versatile sophomore — who tallied 668 receiving yards and six touchdowns — remained the one consistent offensive presence as the Hoyas rotated between five quarterbacks,
“When you’re looking forward, we’ve got a lot of excellent young football players,” Kelly said. “The future’s bright.”
That emerging young core, though, must put in a lot of work from now until next fall if it wants to have a chance at competing for a Patriot League title next year.
The top priority for Georgetown in the offseason is to find a starting quarterback for the future. While senior Isaiah Kempf remains eligible to return after missing this season due to a concussion, that seems highly improbable.
Therefore, a three-way competition is likely to arise between junior Aaron Aiken, sophomore Stephen Skon and freshman Kyle Nolan. While Aiken demonstrated impressive mobility and Skon showed tremendous poise at times, the odds-on-favorite to win the job heading into next season is Nolan.
The young gunslinger saw significant playing time in only two games this season but won Patriot League Rookie of the Week in his first game and developed a strong rapport with Macari, who tallied over 100 yards receiving in both of Nolan’s complete outings. Although Kelly would not name an outright starter, he hinted that the position is indeed Nolan’s to lose.
“I think Kyle Nolan’s going to be an excellent quarterback,” Kelly said. “We’ve got spring ball coming up, so we’ve got to see how it all filters out, but we’ve got to get them all healthy and we’ll go from there.”