Aug 27, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As they do each fall, the Bishop Ludden football team has to play the numbers game in 2014 and hope that the guys that take the field for next Friday night’s season opener against Utica-Notre Dame are still going in mid-October, if not beyond.
Gaelic Knights head coach Mike Rogers said that there’s approximately 300 students, boys and girls, enrolled at the school in grades seven through 12. Ludden’s varsity roster has just 25 players, with only five seniors and four juniors on hand, and no JV squad to help provide manpower in case the need arose.
Sometimes, that’s plenty to do the job – like in 2007, when the Gaelic Knights won the state Class C championship. But in 2013, Ludden could only manage a 3-5 mark, going 3-3 within the tough Class C West division, but unable to make the Section III playoffs.
Where it ends this fall for Ludden will largely hinge on keeping players healthy and getting the maximum production possible from a promising group of skill players.
“”We’ve got some pretty good speed on this team,” said Rogers. “We feel like we’ve got the ability to put people in spots (to make big plays).”
It starts, at running back, with Donovan Card, who got famous for hurdling over a Skaneateles defender during a touchdown run last fall. Just a sophomore, Card is joined in a three-man rotation by fellow 10th-grader Kevin Burkhart and senior Nick Maynard.
Ludden also has options at wide receiver, where senior Cam Beauford could stand out, but if defenses worry too much about him, sophomore KeAndre Sanders and freshman Joe Connor could get open looks.
Running the show is quarterback Billy Maynard. At just 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, Maynard will not look imposing, but Rogers said he is a quality field general with a decent arm and a chance to cut loose if no one gets open.
By contrast, should Billy Maynard go down, Ludden might turn to 6-foot-2 freshman Shock Lee as his replacement, though for now Lee will split time at tight end with Stefan Hutchinson, giving the Gaelic Knights some good match-ups at that position.
For protections, Ludden will count on an offensive line that includes two-way star Travis Cote and Austin Hoyt, along with 6-foot-5, 340-pound Xavier Graham and David Flood. Rogers said the fifth starting spot on the line remained up for grabs.
Going both ways is almost a must at Ludden. Still, it will need 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore Joe Walsh to anchor a defensive line along with sophomore Alex Carbonaro, whose athletic experience includes time spent with the Syracuse Silverbacks Rugby Club.
Lee and Cote will also play on the line, but Cote could move back to linebacker, too, joining Hoyt and Nick Maynard, who start inside, while Card and Connor work outside.
Showing the versatility that Ludden requires, Beauford, normally a defensive back, could move into the linebacker role, especially if Sanders and Billy Maynard stand out in the secondary. Cote is expected to handle the kicking duties.
The big change in C West this fall is the departure of Skaneateles, who moved back to its old home in the Class C ranks.
That leaves room for the others to step up, including Ludden, who looks to catch up to league favorite Syracuse Institute of Technology Central, whom it faces Oct. 10. And there’s always the Sept. 26 game against Jordan-Elbridge, led by one-time Ludden assistant Tim Hawkins.
Besides the need to keep players injury-free, said Rogers, the other key will be seeing how so many sophomores and freshmen handle crucial roles.
“Our young guys have to come of age,” he said.