It has been 10 years since Providence won its last state championship and in order to win another the Celtics had to beat Mount Carmel yet again in the semifinals.
The return of Miles Boykin made the afternoon miserable for the Caravan defense, which ceded six receptions, 121 yards and a touchdown to the Notre Dame-bound receiver, who also threw for a score in the Celtics’ 42-21 Class 7A victory Saturday at Gately Stadium.
The Celtics (12-1) scored on a 9-yard option pass from Boykin to Matt MacNab with 7:43 in the first quarter during their first offensive series. Providence opened a 14-0 lead shortly thereafter when a fumble recovery by linebacker Brendan O’Hara at midfield led to a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Hunniford to Richie Warfield.
Mount Carmel (8-5) drove 80 yards in 14 plays and scored on a 2-yard run by Jaquan Buntin to cut the lead in half 14-7 with 9:02 remaining in the second quarter, but the Celtics showed it was their day, matching 80 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a 2-yard run by Richie Warfield in the following drive to up the lead to 21-7 with 4:50 remaining in the second quarter.
A costly mistake was made by the Caravan on the ensuing kickoff when Erik Carroll recovered a fumble and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown and 28-7 lead with 4:44 remaining in the second quarter.
The Celtics continued to pour it on behind Boykin, who caught a touchdown from Hunniford on a 38-yard pass. The game was put out of reach early in the fourth quarter, when Warfield scored from two-yards out to give Providence a 41-7 lead.
Despite the lopsided score, the Caravan never gave up, getting two late touchdown passes to Steven Wirtel from quarterback Anthony Thompson.
Providence coach Mark Coglianese said the presence of Boykin, who had missed one week after undergoing surgery on his left hand, was a huge difference. “Just his presence out there causes problems for any defense,” Coglianese said. “He is such a rare talent and you have to make adjustments for him.”
It was originally thought that Boykin would not play because of his injury but he said he knew last week he was going to play.
“I wanted to be able to help the team in any way I could,” Boykin said. “There was no way that I would miss a game like this with all that is on the line. We have worked so hard for this. That [option] touchdown pass is something that has always been in our playbook and we finally got a chance to use it and it worked.”
Hunniford was 12-for-16 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
“When you lose your top two running backs it will affect you game plan,” Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said of his short-handed team. “After our first six games everyone counted us out, but we finished the season one game away from playing for the state championship.”
Thompson was 21-for-32 for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
Wirtel finished with nine catches for 129 yards.