In 2008, the Georgetown football team won two games.
Then, in 2009, the squad sunk to the lowest of lows, losing all 11 contests by a combined score of 309–106.
Finally, the 2010 season brought hope to a depressed program. After winning their first two games and three of their first four, the Hoyas impressed with wins against solid Patriot League squads such as Lafayette and Holy Cross — as well as a last second loss at Yale — and got people on the Hilltop talking about the team with excitement and optimism.
The Blue and Gray ended the season with four wins, a marked improvement over the previous two seasons. But the players had tasted victory, and had every intention of making it a familiar feeling.
They got more than a taste this season, as Georgetown went 8-3 and fell just short of a conference championship in its most successful season since rejoining the Football Championship Subdivision in 1999.
Following the season-ending loss last weekend against Lehigh in the de facto Patriot League championship game, junior linebacker Robert McCabe voiced the self-confidence the players had going into this season.
“We went 0-11 two years ago, and we knew that wasn’t the type of team we were,” said McCabe. “Last year, we went 4-7, and it was still a disappointment. We thought we could’ve been better. We lost a lot of close games, so we wanted to come out this year, especially with the talent we had in the senior class. We expected to be in this position.”
During the season opener, the players proved that they were a dangerous foe by crushing Davidson, 40-16.
This game was followed by a close win against Lafayette and a loss at Yale. Coincidentally, the outcomes of these contests were exactly the same as the first three games of 2010.
It was at that point, however, that was wherethe course of this season began to diverge.
After a win at Marist, followed by a loss at Bucknell, the Blue and Gray went on a five-game winning streak, winning by an average of 17 points per game while allowing only an average of 9.8 points per game behind one of the top defensive units in the FCS.
Senior defensive end Andrew Schaetzke attributed the run to multiple units clicking at the same time.
“Our success has been based on a combination of things,” Schaetzke said. “We started forcing a lot of turnovers on defense and we were stopping the run better and all running toward the ball carrier better. Then the offense was capitalizing when they needed to.”
Schaetzke himself was often at the center of the defense’s success, compiling an eye-popping 22.5 tackles for a loss and 13 quarterback sacks while still drawing constant double teams, which gave his teammates better chances to make big plays.
Although the Hoyas will lose a number of standouts next year — including Schaetzke and senior defensive backs Wayne Heimuli, Jayah Kaisamba and David Quintero — dynamic defensive back Jeremy Moore (four interceptions) and single-season tackle record holder McCabe return to anchor the unit next year as seniors.
The squad will also return nearly all major contributors on offense, excluding running back Chance Logan and receivers Jeremiah Kayal and Patrick Ryan.
Top returning performers include sophomore running back Nick Campanella (499 yards rushing, eight TDs) and receiver Jamal Davis (31 receptions, 386 yards) as well as junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf(1268 yards passing, 10 TDs; 372 yards rushing, four TDs) and receiver Max Waizenegger (35 catches, 424 yards, six TDs).
But McCabe will be the first to note how much of an impact the Class of 2012 has had on Georgetown football, both this year and for the future of the program.
“This senior class is going to go down in history as the class that turned around Georgetown football,” McCabe said. “We had a great season. We were disappointed we lost [the Patriot League Championship] game, but for the guys coming back we’re going to remember how we feel after this game and learn from it and use it as motivation going into next season and make sure next year we’re on the winning end.”
McCabe’s confidence in his teammates should not be taken lightly. All season long, the belief in the locker room was that this year’s squad would compete for the league title, but no one believed them. In the end, their actions spoke even louder than their unwavering words.
Don’t be surprised if that trend continues next season and beyond.