Justin Corbett scores a touchdown for Lincoln-Way East against Providence. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
No. 4 Glenbard North (10-1) at No. 1 Maine South (11-0), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 3 Palatine (10-1) at No. 2 Loyola (10-1), noon Saturday
No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (10-1) at No. 1 Neuqua Valley (11-0), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 3 Mount Carmel (10-1) at No. 15 Lyons (7-4), 7 p.m. Saturday
No. 5 Wheaton North (10-1) at No. 1 Glenbard West (11-0), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Rockford Boylan (11-0) at No. 6 Lake Zurich (9-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Benet (10-1) at No. 8 Downers Grove North (7-4), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Edwardsville (10-1) at No. 1 Lincoln-Way East (11-0), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 4 Crystal Lake Central (9-2) at No. 1 Cary-Grove (11-0), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 10 Lake Forest (8-3) at No. 14 Niles Notre Dame (7-4), 7:30 p.m. Friday
No. 3 Lemont (10-1) at No. 1 Oak Forest (10-1), 7 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Ottawa (11-0) at No. 1 Crete-Monee (11-0), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 12 Joliet Catholic (7-4) at No. 9 Lincoln-Way West (8-3), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 3 Montini (9-2) at No. 2 Woodstock Marian (11-0), 5 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Morris (10-1) at No. 5 Washington (9-2), 3 p.m. Saturday
No. 4 Glenwood (9-2) at No. 3 Sacred Heart-Griffin (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
No. 5 Brooks (8-2) at No. 7 Evergreen Park (8-3), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 1 Alleman (10-1) at No. 2 Coal City (10-1), 2 p.m. Saturday
No. 5 Peoria Notre Dame (8-3) vs. No. 2 Rochester (10-1) at Peoria Stadium, 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Marquette (10-1) at No. 1 Harrisburg (10-1), 2 p.m. Saturday
No. 9 Winnebago (9-2) at No. 4 Aurora Christian (10-1), 6 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Newman Central Catholic (11-0) at No. 11 Wilmington (9-2), 5 p.m. Saturday
No. 2 Unity (10-1) at No. 1 Williamsville (11-0), 2 p.m. Saturday
No. 1 Greenville (10-1) at No. 6 Carterville (8-3), 1 p.m. Saturday
Updated: December 7, 2012 6:28AM
The game figured to be competitive.
If Lincoln-Way East had an advantage, most observers thought it was senior quarterback Tom Fuessel, whose speed and elusiveness has frustrated many a good defense.
Providence entered Saturday night’s Class 7A second-round playoff clash in Frankfort feeling the Fuessel heat. The Celtics had a good season defensively, but containing him was another matter.
East coach Rob Zvonar, offensive coordinator Joel Pallissard and the rest of the Griffins staff, while thrilled to have Fuessel on their side, knew the danger of getting too one-dimensional.
That’s where senior running backs Nick Colangelo and Justin Corbett and wide receiver Justin Winkler came into play. Colangelo rushed for 164 yards on 20 carries, including a 19-yard touchdown scamper, Corbett converted a pass to the left flat into a highlight-reel, 49-yard scoring play and Winkler made two receptions, both while diving along the sideline.
East’s offensive line, unheralded except for 280-pound junior center Nick Allegretti, also held its ground against a proud Providence defense.
Afterward, Fuessel and Colangelo both expressed the faith they have in the big guys up front.
All those factors helped the Griffins (11-0) to a 24-14 victory and a quarterfinal home game at 6 p.m. Saturday vs. Edwardsville.
Fuessel was not without his moments, either. He lost a potential 77-yard touchdown pass to Corbett on the first possession when, after scrambling from one side of the field to the other, he was penalized for stepping across the line of scrimmage before releasing the ball. His 54-yard run on a quarterback draw on the next possession set up the first touchdown, which he scored on the subsequent play.
“We won the field-position game,” Zvonar said. “We knew if we kept getting shots at it like that our offense would hit some.”
In contrast, while the outcome was in the balance, East’s defense stifled Providence. In a first half that ended with the Griffins on top 16-0, only four of the Celtics’ 27 snaps went for more than three yards, with 13 the longest.
Providence quarterback Dominic Lagone finished 12-of-16 passing for 121 yards. Until he began finding Miles Boykin downfield beginning late in the third quarter, he was 5-of-9 for a total of 11 yards.
“Dominic had a great year stepping in and doing what he did for us,” Providence coach Mark Coglianese said. “But our inexperience at quarterback showed tonight in this type of environment and against a great defense.”
Lagone is a running back by trade. But circumstances late in the summer left the Celtics in need of a starting quarterback. That they finished 8-3 against their schedule and reached the second round of the playoffs is a compliment to how Lagone delivered.
However, East’s defense felt it could take control, and it did. The Griffins’ deep group up front, supported by the excellent linebacking crew of Adam O’Grady, Kyle Langenderfer and Mitch Murphy and the secondary of safeties Jarret Lecas and Brendan Sleeman and cornerbacks Sean Doherty and Moe Almasri, will challenge any offense the rest of the way.
East had lost Round 2 games the previous four years. As Zvonar pointed out, though, each of those games was worthy of a quarterfinal or semifinal, Providence game included.
The Celtics dropped to 0-6 all-time against the Griffins. But the other five were season openers from 2005 through ’09. The playoffs are different. The Griffins won this one because they deserved it. There was no hex at work.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they went all the way,” Coglianese said.
He is not alone in that sentiment.