Disabato: ‘Do or die’ time for Providence football
By Pat Disabato email@example.com Twitter: @disabato October 9, 2013 10:02PM
Providence's David Kaminski (37) is upended | File photo
Updated: November 11, 2013 12:21PM
Two wins in the final three games.
That’s what nine-time state champion Providence Catholic, sitting at 3-3, must accomplish in order to gain entry into the playoffs.
Sounds doable, right?
However, it’s far from a certainty, considering the Celtics’ final three games are vs. Fenwick, Mount Carmel and Brother Rice, teams that are a combined 13-5 on the season.
Not a “lock” victory among the three, mind you. Oh, you say Rice, at 2-4, looks like easy pickin’s? For one, go ask Mount Carmel, and two, if the Celtics don’t win one of their next two games against undefeated Fenwick, on the road, or No. 1 Mount Carmel, the Week 9 game against Rice means nothing in the standings, other than which team will finish last in the Catholic Blue.
There’s no other way to put this: The Celtics’ backs are against the wall.
“We knew coming into the season that potentially it could come down to this,” Providence coach Mark Coglianese said. “We didn’t want it to, but that’s the reality of the situation.”
Missing the playoffs at Providence is similar to the prom queen not being asked to the dance.
In 21 of the last 22 seasons — a period that includes eight of the program’s state titles — the Celtics have qualified for the playoffs. The most recent season they were left out was 2010, when they went 2-7. That was a year after advancing to the Class 5A state championship game.
Coglianese is a realist, not a prophet. He knew, like most of us, that Providence’s schedule resembled a meat grinder and that qualifying for the playoffs would be a challenge.
Beyond the powers in the Catholic Blue, there were nonconference games against Joliet Catholic, De La Salle, Minooka and Gordon Tech. The Celtics won three of four against those foes, losing only to Joliet Catholic in a 42-35 slugfest. That’s the game, a season opener fans of both teams cherish, that could come back to haunt Coglianese’s club if its finishes 4-5.
Providence played undefeated Loyola tough, falling 28-16. The real surprise was getting blown out 37-14 Friday by St. Rita — in New Lenox no less. The Celtics coughed the ball up six times, resembling a cat with a bad case of hair balls.
“Everything kind of fell apart against Rita,” Coglianese said. “The JCA game was a big loss. We got off to a terrible start in that game. That game made the road even tougher.”
With an arduous Catholic Blue schedule every year, some have wondered why Providence schedules Joliet Catholic. The reason is two-fold: The fans and players love the rivalry, and there aren’t many, if any, teams willing to schedule the Celtics.
That’s the price you pay for success.
“Our contract with JCA is up, and we checked around a little bit and thought about scheduling someone else,” Coglianese said. “We just said, ‘Hey, JCA is willing to play and we’ll do it again for two more years.’ It’s a great atmosphere. Whatever happens the next three weeks, I believe we’re better than half the teams that qualify for the postseason.”
So do I, but IHSA rules award only conference champions and teams with at least five wins and the necessary playoff points entry into the playoffs.
Saturday’s game against Fenwick, which will be played at Concordia University in beautiful River Forest, will be a challenge. However, if the Celtics can avoid turning the ball over, something that plagued them in losses to Joliet Catholic and St. Rita, they can jump on Interstate 290 for the ride home celebrating a victory.
“We’re going to have to go on the road and beat a very good team,” Coglianese said. “If we take care of the ball and play good defense, we’ll be in good shape. We believe in the system we have. We’re in playoff mode right now. It’s do or die now. I believe we’re up to the challenge.”
A team boasting the talent of Dominic Lagone, Miles Boykin, Logan Plantz and Jeff Cesario should be.