Over the past few weeks, the lights have dimmed over the 2010 Georgetown football season. After a very promising start in which the Hoyas won three out of their first four games – including a Homecoming Day victory over reigning Patriot League champion Holy Cross – the Blue and Gray have now lost four in a row on their way to a 3-5 (2-2 Patriot League) record. The past few games have brought back painful reminders of last year’s winless season, defined by close games that, in the end, the Hoyas found ways to lose.
A few bright spots do remain however, and perhaps the brightest spot of all has been the play of junior defensive end Andrew Schaetzke. On the final day of last year’s underwhelming season, the biggest loss to the Georgetown football program was not the 41-14 defeat they suffered at the hands of Fordham to cap their winless season, but rather the torn ACL that Schaetzke – their promising young pass rusher – suffered during the game.
A torn ACL is arguably the most dreaded injury in football, sometimes requiring up to a full 12-18 months of recovery. That time frame meant that it was possible that Schaetzke would miss this year’s season. But rather than accept his fate and let time take its course, Schaetzke was motivated from the beginning and rehabbed as hard as possible to ensure that he would be on the field this season. Fortunately for him, and for the entire football program for that matter, he had a successful recovery and was back on the gridiron in time for the season opener.
After leading the team in both tackles for a loss and sacks last season with 9.5 and 5.5 respectively, the 6-foot-4 Toledo, Ohio native is well on his way to leading the team and possibly the entire Patriot League in those categories again. Through eight games this season, the talented pass rusher leads the entire Patriot League with 10.5 tackles for a loss and is second in the league with six quarterback sacks. This success has already led him to two Patriot League defensive player of the week awards, including one this past week after his seven tackles, four tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks in Saturday’s 33-20 loss to Sacred Heart.
That performance prompted Head Coach Kevin Kelly to give Schaetzke some much deserved praise.
“He’s very athletic. He runs well, has a good sense for the football and is a big playmaker,” Kelly said. “He has all of the physical tools to be an excellent defensive player, and in my opinion, he is the best defensive player in the Patriot League.”
To have this much success after a catastrophic injury like a torn ACL is a great accomplishment. It is not uncommon for players to return from a torn ACL within 8-12 months, but rarely are their knees strong enough to withstand the constant force that comes with playing in a football game.
For Schaetzke, however, the injury has just been a speed bump that he has been able to put in the rearview mirror.
“The knee is still just a little sore sometimes, but I can’t really tell a difference while I am playing,” the third-year said. ” I had six months to recover, and my surgeon did a good job so I feel like I can put trust in it. I am not at all cautious of tearing it again.”
Schaetzke’s quick recovery, although due in large part to the defensive end’s hard work, has surprised even him.
“I really did not expect much recognition coming into this season,” Schaetzke said. “Last season, after [the injury] I did not know how it would affect me and my ability to play. It is great to be back on the field though, and it has been an honor to get that type of recognition.”
Since coming in as a freshman three years ago, Schaetzke has played a significant role on the defensive line in nearly every game. A position that relies so much on size and strength, the defensive line is usually not a position reserved for the younger members on the team.
But Schaetzke brought a unique set of talent and ability to the Hilltop that prevented the coaches from leaving him on the bench. The experience that he gained during those first two seasons seem to have paid dividends.
“The experience really helps when you are out on the field,” Schaetzke said. “It helps to be able to recognize things. [Before the snap] I usually have my eyes on the offensive lineman’s feet that are in front of me. Whether they are in a two-point or three-point stance, their splits off of each other and whether they have more weight on the back or the front of their feet. These are usually good signs to tell whether it is run or pass. Other than that I just read my keys to the play.”
That experience has helped him put up great individual numbers this season. But football is a team sport, and Schaetzke will not be satisfied until those stats translate into more wins.
“We as a team just need to keep working at it,” he said. “Everyday and every practice counts towards that game on Saturday.”