Throughout the 2008 season, as the Bishop Ludden football team built its win streak to 20 games in defense of its state Class C championship, it had pointed toward a new face in the Class C ranks with a storied history.
Cazenovia, who had won each of the last two Section III Class B titles, had been moved down due to enrollment changes, and the expectation was that, somewhere along the line, the Gaelic Knights would have to get through the Lakers if it wanted more glory.
Sure enough, that post-season collision took place in last Friday night's Class C semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium. And as it turned out, not even Cazenovia could slow Ludden's relentless push toward a repeat.
Combining its knack for big plays with a strong defensive effort, the Gaelic Knights beat the Lakers, 26-14, for its 21st victory in a row, earning a trip to the Carrier Dome to face fellow unbeaten Westmoreland in this Saturday's Class C final.
Everyone came into this game expecting a classic duel between Cazenovia's punishing defense and Ludden's high-octane offense. They would get their wish right away.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Gaelic Knights began on its own 22-yard line and took it right to the Lakers, going 78 yards in 10 plays.
While Cazenovia expected Omar Osbourne to be a running threat, they did not expect him to cause damage a receiver -- but he did so here, getting wide open so that John Rooney could throw it to him on a 43-yard touchdown play that put Ludden ahead 7-0.
At first, the Gaelic Knights' defense shut down whatever Cazenovia tried to establish on the ground. But in the second quarter the Lakers went through the air and succeeded, Carter Franz hitting Seth Goldacker on a 59-yard TD pass to tie it, 7-7.