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Ludden hungry again as '09 season nears

As far as sequels go, Bishop Ludden football in 2008 was quite enjoyable -- but still left the participants unsatisfied.

Trying to follow up its 2007 state Class C championship glory, the Gaelic Knights tore through an undefeated regular season and playoff wins over Adirondack and Cazenovia -- only to get toppled by Westmoreland 24-19 in the sectional finals at the Carrier Dome.

In retrospect, Ludden's run was quite remarkable. It only had 22 players on the varsity roster. Thus, according to head coach John Cosgrove, if anyone was missing for any reason, they could not do a normal 11-on-11 practice.

That isn't a problem this season. All told, 34 players came out for the varsity team, and the numbers more than compensate for the modest total of four seniors lost to graduation.

By a general consensus, Ludden is one of the Class C championship favorites again. Part of that is due to the vast experience present in the Gaelic Knights' backfield.

Senior John Rooney is entering his fourth varsity season, his second as Ludden's quarterback. Rooney proved to be a worthy successor to Connor Sweeney in '08, and Cosgrove said his roles in three sports (he plays point guard in basketball and is a standout baseball shortstop) makes him an ideal leader.

"John is used to running the show and has confidence in what he's doing," Cosgrove said. "And the other players feed off that confidence."

Just as Rooney ably succeeded Sweeney, Omar Osbourne did the same as he followed Daquan Grobsmith at tailback (more than 1,400 yards), so the Gaelic Knights didn't miss Grobsmith too much.

Unlike the small and elusive Grobsmith, Osbourne (6-2, 190 pounds) prefers to knock over defenders for extra yards, rather than run around them. It helps to have another returning starter, Devin White, at fullback to give Osbourne a breather.

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