Aug 23, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A bit older, and a bit wiser, the Bishop Ludden football team will need that maturity and experience within a Class C West division that only seems to get tougher.
Among other things, Skaneateles and Hannibal have joined the league after stints in Class B. Add to it the improvements at Jordan-Elbridge, Tully and LaFayette/Fabius-Pompey, and the fast-emerging Syracuse Institute of Technology Central, and nothing for the Gaelic Knights in 2011 is a given.
In fact, Ludden head coach Mike Rogers, beginning his second season at the helm after John Cosgrove went to ITC, said that anyone in the league could reach the playoffs.
But Rogers has reason to like his own side’s chances. Playing with 18 freshmen and sophomores in 2010, the Gaelic Knights still went 5-2 in the regular season and reached the Section III Class C playoffs before, without star tight end Chris Davis (concussion), it fell to Ilion 52-6.
Now Ludden has, of the 28 players on its roster, 18 juniors and seniors. Seven starters are back on both sides of the ball. Leading that group is Matt Rogers, who returns for his senior season at quarterback.
At 5-11 and 160 pounds, Matt Rogers is not the most physically imposing passer. But throwing to the likes of Davis and Antoin Montgomery a season ago, he averaged nearly 20 yards per completion. That ability to create big plays, combined with intelligence (he’s one of the top students in the school), make him an ideal leader.
“He keeps plays alive, and knows what he’s doing,” said John Rogers.
Montgomery returns as Ludden’s primary receiver, a deep threat that could get a touchdown any time he touches the ball. Zach Harding has emerged at split end, and while Davis will be difficult to replace at tight end, Corey Wilkinson and Anthony Pecoriello will give it a try.
Whoever doesn’t start at tight end will see time at fullback, blocking for Michael Works. At 6-1 and 210 pounds, Works is a big and powerful runner who will get to work behind an experienced offensive line.
Shane Kelly, who checks in at 290 pounds, anchors the line at guard, flanked by two juniors, Collin Cacchione (center) and Alex Trunfio (tackle) who started in 2010 as sophomores. Asante Holder moves into the other tackle spot as brothers Chris and Jon Matchuk trade time at guard.
Mike Rogers has all kinds of options on his defensive line, a rarity for a school of Ludden’s size. Up to eight players could rotate into a four-man front, with the Matchuks, Cacchione, Trunfio, Holder, Wilkinson and Kelly all part of the mix.
Works and Ben Rath lead a flexible group of linebackers, as two modest-size juniors, Mike Peciorello and John Maher, could see plenty of time. Ben Rath can play either linebacker or safety, where Matt Rogers is situated, too. Montgomery, Harding and Malik Stenson give Ludden a formidable trio of cornerbacks.
Ludden will waste no time finding high-profile action, meeting Cosgrove’s ITC squad Sept. 2 at Clary Road before opening at home against Skaneateles a week later, the first of four home games in five weeks that will largely determine whether the Gaelic Knights see post-season action again.