Ludden title defense begins with rout of Cato

Exit Daquan Grobsmith, and enter Omar Osbourne. Say goodbye to Connor Sweeney, but say hello to John Rooney.

Few football teams could survive what Bishop Ludden gave up to graduation months after securing the state Class C championship last November in the Carrier Dome. The departures of Grobsmith, Sweeney and top wide receiver Wendall Williams were supposed to bring the Gaelic Knights back to the realms of the mortal.

But so far, the new guys are doing just fine.

With Rooney nearly flawless in the passing game and Osbourne putting up the same kind of rushing totals Grobsmith pulled off with regularity, Ludden dominated last Friday night's season opener at Cato-Meridian, beating the Blue Devils 41-14.

Rooney, a junior, had played as a sophomore in 2007, but mostly as a defensive back. He was far better known for his prowess on the baseball field, where he's a Division I prospect at shortstop and pitcher and (perfect for football) possesses a strong right arm.

As for Osbourne, he simply had to wait in line behind Grobsmith, though he did see plenty of action as a reserve whenever Grobsmith needed a rest.

Cato-Meridian quickly found out, though, that though the faces in Ludden's backfield might be new, the level of play might be just the same -- quite high.

Rooney set the tone in the first quarter, driving the Gaelic Knights to the Blue Devils' 35-yard line, then going deep and finding Devin White for his first passing touchdown.

In the second quarter, Ludden's lead grew to 20-0, partly because Rooney again threw long -- and again connected, hitting tight end Chris Davis for a 40-yard TD play.

Meanwhile, Osbourne carried the ball 15 times, but that's all he needed to pile up 214 yards on the ground and find the end zone four times. It helped to have veterans like Steve Barrett, Nick Hogan and Nate Stewart dominating on the offensive line, with newcomers Nick Ferrante and Conor Cosgrove also performing well.

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