Goss: Providence looks to clear obstacles vs. Joliet Catholic
August 22, 2012 9:06PM
Providence's Brandon Price (center). | File photo
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Updated: September 24, 2012 7:43AM
A year ago, when Craig Slowik was a junior and Nick Morrison a sophomore, the two were competing for the starting quarterback job at Joliet Catholic.
Neither had started a varsity game, so coach Dan Sharp and his staff did not know for sure what they would get.
Slowik won the job, and he ran with it. Beginning with a 32-31 win over Carmel, in which he completed the long, game-winning pass to Ty Isaac in the final minute, it was quite a run. He threw for good yardage — considering the Hilltoppers’ ground-oriented attack — and he was not intercepted until the Class 5A state championship game against Montini.
Entering Friday night’s ballyhooed season opener on the new synthetic turf at Providence, while the Southern California-bound Isaac has seized headlines, Slowik has gone about preparing for projects as an outstanding senior season. Isaac included, he has at least four tall, athletic targets, with Zach Rezin, Jordan Jones and Chris Tschida the others.
On the opposite sideline Friday night will be Providence coach Mark Coglianese and his staff. To some degree, they are in the situation Joliet Catholic was in at this time a year ago — but perhaps even more iffy.
The Celtics went through most of their summer workouts with junior Jake Godfrey at quarterback. He is the best quarterback in the school. But he also is a high-profile baseball pitcher, and he decided in July to give up football and concentrate on baseball.
The timing was difficult. If Coglianese and Co. had a ready replacement, it probably was senior Nate Stramaglia. But he transferred to Sandburg after his sophomore year at Providence, played quarterback at Sandburg in 2011 and transferred back to Providence at the semester break.
Coglianese said Stramaglia did not intend to continue playing football at the time — he transferred back because he liked the school environment better at Providence. But with the Celtics needing a quarterback, Stramaglia wanted to help. However, the IHSA ruled late last week that he is ineligible because he has not yet sat out an entire year after transferring from a public to a private school.
In practice, the Celtics’ staff decided their two best quarterback candidates to groom were sophomore wide receiver Miles Boykin and junior Dominic Lagone, formerly the backup running back to senior Brandon Price. Boykin was a contributor on the varsity basketball team as a freshman.
“Boykin had a real good Green and White game last Friday,” Coglianese said. “Both kids are good athletes and smart kids. Both throw the ball pretty well. We will go with them.”
The plan is for both to play Friday regardless of which one starts.
“Obviously, the thing that stands out about Miles (Boykin) is his athleticism,” Coglianese said. “He’s a game-breaker type kid. He can break a big play by throwing it or keeping it himself.
“Lagone is a tough, running back-type kid. One good thing about having him at quarterback is he would have another real nice target in Boykin.”
While Coglianese is eager to get this game going, to get his young quarterbacks some experience under the bright lights, he mentioned another member of the offensive arsenal who perhaps has been overlooked. That’s tailback Brandon Price.
“Obviously, Ty gets all the attention going into this game, and he deserves it,” Coglianese said. “But I’m hoping Brandon steals some of that attention. He’s not a Division I kid, but he is a very good high school back. He was in the shadows last year, but he got some good experience. He’s small in stature, but we expect big things out of him.”
The Providence offensive line has no returning starters and is not anywhere near as large as last year’s.
“It will take time for it to mature,” Coglianese said. “We have to rely on Brandon and some other guys to make plays in the meantime.”
Linebacker Jack Fordon, a returning starting linebacker and captain along with his cousin Brian Fordon, suffered a broken bone in his hand and will miss “four to six week or maybe more,” Coglianese said. “He had a plate put in the hand.”
Given everything, what can Providence do to win Friday’s game?
“We want to control the ball and keep Isaac off the field,” Coglianese said. “In the first game, unfortunately you will have some mistakes, but we have to be as mistake-free as possible. On defense, we have to try to limit Ty’s yardage as much as possible.”
He laughed and added: “One thing I can guarantee is we’re no Montini, we’re not going to score 70 points (Montini beat Joliet Catholic 70-45 in the 2011 5A state title game). We definitely do not want a shootout.”