Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A New Season, A Fresh Start

“It’s ancient history right now,” said Kelly, who couldn’t even recall who scored his team’s lone touchdown in last September’s win at the Multi-Sport Facility. “It gives the kids some confidence, having played them, but the only word of caution is that they are going to be a lot better.”

The Hoyas might as well have forgotten last season’s victory, for the pack of Seawolves they will face Saturday night is far different from the one they snuck past in 2006. In an effort to build its football program, Stony Brook left the Northeast Conference following last season’s 5-6 campaign and will compete as an independent this season before joining the Big South rank and file in 2008. To aid their ascent in college football’s hierarchy, the Seawolves were granted 42 scholarships this season, an increase from their previous allotment of 30. Second year Head Coach Chuck Priore has used his extra free rides to reign in talented transfers.

“They are a totally different team than they were last year; we don’t know a lot about them,” senior fullback Kyle Van Fleet said following practice on Thursday. “A lot of the guys we faced last year are second string now.”

One newcomer is junior tailback Brandon Mason, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound bruiser who spent the last two seasons steamrolling would-be tacklers with the University of Pittsburgh. He will likely displace sophomore incumbent Conte Cuttino, who provided only glimpses of offensive firepower as a freshman.

While the running game remains in transition, Stony Brook’s aerial attack will hardly skip a beat. Senior quarterback Josh Dudash returns for a final go-round after passing for 2,231 yards, 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions last season. Dudash’s assembly-line efficiency is thanks, in part, to a solid group of receivers: Senior J.J. Cox Jr. and sophomores Lydell Suggs and Dwayne Eley – who starred at Gonzaga College High School in the District. – teamed up for 108 catches and 11 scores in 2006 and return hungrier after being blanked by Georgetown last year.

“[Dudash] is the leader of the team, but we can’t look past the other players that they have,” senior linebacker Stephen Smith said.

Stony Brook’s wily veterans will attack a Hoya secondary that lost two starters to graduation and is relatively untested. Seniors defensive backs Darren Craft and John Lancaster have been patiently waiting for their time to shine. Their moment will arrive when the lights go on at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium.

“Coach has us ready to play, so we just have to go out there and execute,” senior defensive end Nnamdi Obiako said. “Just play hard.”

Obiako’s defense held up their end of the bargain when the Hoyas faced the Seawolves last season, limiting Dudash to 65 yards through the air and holding the Seawolves scoreless, but the Georgetown offense sputtered to their one score.

One of the men responsible for that one lone touchdown, former quarterback Ben Hostetler, now a junior, isn’t even on Saturday’s roster. Hostetler, a two-sport star who notched two goals for the Hoyas’ lacrosse team in 2007, decided during the offseason to hang up his pads and stick with his stick full-time.

But junior wideout Sidney Baker – who, Kelly’s memory loss aside, caught the spiral that sank the Seawolves last season – isn’t sweating it. After a preseason practice a few weeks ago, Baker boldly predicted that his Hoyas would emerge victorious in their season opener, and with a cool and collected att Bassuener, now a senior, under center, Baker has a right to feel confident. Bassuener, who earned the starter’s job last year, will look to guide an offense that must muster more than one measly score.

“It wasn’t a good offensive performance. We only scored seven points, and that could have easily turned around,” Van Fleet said of last season’s win. “This year we need to put a lot of points on the board and start off early.”

As is his custom, Bassuener has spent countless hours in the film room dissecting the Stony Brook defense.

“What happened last year really doesn’t mean anything to me,” Bassuener said. “You always want to improve on your offensive production, and I feel like we have a lot of weapons this year.”

In his arsenal is sophomore tailback Charlie Houghton, who sprinted to a fantastic finish in his first year on the Hilltop, garnering Patriot League rookie of the week honors in three of the last four weeks of the season en route to garnering the league’s rookie of the year trophy. A young offensive line will look to pave the way for Houghton, but a hulking giant looms in their path . Junior defensive tackle Will Martinez, a 6-foot-2, 310 behemoth joins the Sea Wolves after two years at Cerritos (CA) Junior College.

“We’re much better equipped this year walking on the field, especially defensively,” Priore, who did not return interview requests this week, said in an interview with Newsday earlier this summer. “When you bring in a 310-pound nose guard, I think we will be better.”

Martinez and the revamped Seawolves are but the first obstacle in a gauntlet of big games for Georgetown in the coming weeks.

“We really want to start it off right because we have the Patriot League champ [Lafayette] coming in next week and the Ivy League champ [Yale] the week after, so it would be huge to come home with a `W’,” Van Fleet said. “Everyone is looking forward to it on campus to they want see how we start it off.”

Kelly shares the same sense of excitement and anticipation.

“The exciting thing about college football is that every year, every team is different and there is a different chemistry,” Kelly said. “This one has a much different chemistry than we did last year.”

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Stony Brook, N.Y.

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