Quarterback Kyle Nolan

After finishing 3-8 in a difficult season, Georgetown’s football team (0-1) certainly has room for improvement. However, the team, led by second-year Head Coach Rob Sgarlata, is optimistic that it will find more success in 2015.

Senior quarterback Kyle Nolan, who threw for 1,763 yards and nine touchdowns last year, is back to lead the team in his final season.

“[Nolan] has done a great job in the past year and a half to learn and understand quickly what this offense is all about. He’s been here for the past two summers working extremely hard to improve his game in all aspects, and he’s been a great leader while doing that, in the weight room and on the field and in the film room,” Offensive Coordinator Michael Neuberger said.

Nolan will be flanked by senior running back Joel Kimpela, a second team All-Patriot League selection in 2014. Kimpela rushed for 838 yards and three touchdowns last season, gaining that yardage with a strong 5.3 yards per carry. In addition, the team’s top three receivers from last season, senior wide receivers Jake DeCicco and Justin Hill and senior tight end Matthew Buckman, will return to form the core of a veteran offense.

“It’s exciting [to return so many key players],” Nolan said. “Last year we weren’t sure of what we were doing. We had a lot of guys with experience but they were young guys with experience. With Jake and Justin in that leadership role, they know what they’re doing, and they’re not afraid to go out there, and if they make a mistake, they know that they made a mistake and they’re going to correct it.”

Defensively, the Hoyas will look to senior cornerback Ettian Scott, a preseason All-Patriot-League selection, to lead the defense. Sgarlata will rely on a pair of veterans to lead the pass rush as the team tries to replace graduated senior Alec May, who recorded a Patriot League-leading 16.5 sacks in 2014.

“[Senior defensive lineman] Hunter Kiselick, one of our captains, and [junior defensive lineman] Phil Novacki [will be part of the effort to replace May]. Phil is one of the more athletic kids on our team, top to bottom. I don’t think you replace somebody like Alec; you just hope the next guys step up, and we’ve had a great tradition of really good defensive kids on this ballclub, especially up front,” Sgarlata said.

In its season opener, Georgetown suffered a difficult defeat to St. Francis (Pa.) (1-0) by a score of 48-20. St. Francis used its powerful running game to overwhelm the Georgetown defense, rushing for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

“Every team we play is going to have a good running back,” Sgarlata said. “St. Francis had two of them, they did a good job, but we need to tackle better in the open field, gang tackle and run to the football.”

The Hoyas will play an 11-game schedule this season, including six Patriot League contests. However, the team is not interested in looking ahead, and is focused primarily on the tasks that are immediately in front of it.

“Just getting better, working hard, every single day, that’s our goal, you know, get better. Coach is always telling us to get better and the rest will take care of itself,” Kimpela said.

Georgetown will face Marist (0-1) in its home opener Saturday at 6 p.m. at Multi-Sport Facility.

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