Providence junior punt returner and defensive back Michael Madej sure knows how to get his coach excited. Midway through the third quarter against St. Rita in Class 7A, Madej at the last minute decided to scoop up a bouncing punt.
He broke through the original wave of defenders and slithered his way through a few more and after that he had open field. Meanwhile, not far behind him on the sideline was coach Mark Coglianese, who couldn’t contain his excitement during the run.
The 90-yard punt return touchdown put the Celtics in control during a 34-3 second round win. The Celtics (10-1) defeated the host Mustangs (7-4) for the second time as the visiting team. It was the first playoff game between the two since 2006 when St. Rita won 34-31.
“It’s hard to beat a team twice and they have big play guys and that’s what concerned us the most,” Coglianese said. “That (punt return) was a big spark for us.”
The Mustangs suffered a huge setback on their first drive when starting quarterback Scott Proctor went down with a lower body injury and didn’t return. Proctor at the time was running a successful read-option in which he had 13 yards rushing on three carries and had his team on the Celtics’ 25.
C.J. Weydeman (8-for-23, 42 yards) took over the quarterback duties and struggled against an unforgiving Celtics’ defense led by Jake Rost (two sacks).
“We felt confident coming in and we were doing some things they haven’t seen,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “That’s just a great team over there.”
Senior quarterback Justin Hunniford (12-for-24, 224 yards, 2 TDs) accounted for 20 of the Celtics’ points. Six of those on a pair of field goals (31 and 24 yards) and the remaining 14 came on a pair of TD passes. The first was a 75-yard bomb to Notre Dame-bound Miles Boykin (5 catches, 96 yards). The other was a 4-yard TD pass on fourth-and-2 to Mike Beller.
“It doesn’t [matter if] I’m blocking or doing whatever I’m just happy to contribute,” Boykin said. “We just have to keep this train rolling.”
Sophomore running back Richie Warfield put the Celtics up 7-0 on a 10-yard TD run. He finished with 111 yards on 13 carries.