When any football team, in any classification, against any kind of opposition, wins 21 games in a row, it's pretty special.
That is the context that must be applied to Bishop Ludden's 24-19 defeat to Westmoreland in last Saturday's Section III Class C final at the Carrier Dome, which put an end to the Gaelic Knights' chances of repeating as both sectional and state champions.
Despite the defeat, head coach John Cosgrove said the team's accomplishments during this long win streak would be impossible to forget.
"We're terribly proud of these guys," he said. "Most teams don't get to do what we did."
And Ludden's fighting spirit was on display in this final. Without two key players (Steve Barrett and Rick Montgomery) lost to injuries, and down double digits in the fourth quarter, the Gaelic Knights showed its heart and determination by nearly pulling it out.
Ludden, behind 24-12, had the ball on its own 17-yard line with less than eight minutes left, and needed the sort of big play that had been missing for much of the afternoon against a quick and physical Westmoreland defense.
Omar Osbourne, bottled up much of the day, finally broke loose, going 66 yards to the Bulldogs' 17-yard line. That set up John Rooney's 10-yard touchdown pass to Osbourne with 4:21 left, cutting the Gaelic Knights' deficit to five.
Westmoreland, despite having the ball at midfield, could not get the first downs needed to run out the clock, and when Ludden got a hand on the ensuing punt from T.J. Losowski, it took over on its own 43 with 2:02 to play.
As the clock ticked down under a minute, John Rooney threw a 25-yard pass to Osbourne that reached Westmoreland's 35-yard line. The Gaelic Knights still had one time-out left, and Rooney certainly could spike the ball if he had to stop the clock.