Goss: Providence vs. Joliet Catholic is an area must

SHARE Goss: Providence vs. Joliet Catholic is an area must

Providence senior safety Noah Cralle has been around. He has gone up against enough talented receivers to know when there is a problem.

When opposing defenses attempt do cover his teammate, 6-foot-5 junior Miles Boykin, well, good luck.

“It will really be tough for anyone to cover Boykin one-on-one,” he said. “Not only is he tall, he can really get up.

“If there’s a jump ball, he will go get it, and there’s not a DB (defensive back) around who can do anything about it.”

Now there’s a wonderful thought for first-year Joliet Catholic defensive coordinator Jake Jaworski and everyone else who is on Providence’s schedule. The Celtics will visit the Hilltoppers on Aug. 30 at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

It’s a season opener local football fans can’t wait to see. If the weather is as ideal as predicted, we can expect something close to a packed stadium.

Boykin, also an outstanding basketball player, is a Division I receiver in the making. He battled through a couple of ankle injuries as a sophomore and his effectiveness was limited. He is healthy now.

That Joliet Catholic has the counterpart to Boykin in 6-3 senior Jordan Jones is an example of how closely these rivals are matched.

“He’s getting looks from big schools,” Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp said of Jones. “He could be a wide receiver, slot receiver or tight end, and he can play corner. Our job is to find ways to get him the ball.”

As standout offensive lineman J.B. Butler said, “Jordan is a freak athlete. He will catch anything.”

So, if you attend the opener, you will see a tall, fast, big-time receiver on each side. That alone will be worth the price of admission.

Oh, but there is so much more.

Both teams have talented senior running backs who have not been in the spotlight — at least not in that capacity. The crystal ball says both will enjoy outstanding seasons.

On the Providence side, there’s Dominic Lagone. Joliet Catholic fans will remember him as the junior who played quarterback for the first time last season and in his debut directed the offense that beat the Hilltoppers 40-34.

This year, he is back at his normal position, tailback. He has added a few pounds — he’s up to about 190 — and plenty of muscle to go with 4.7 40-yard dash speed. He is ready to take the pounding a tailback gets.

For Joliet Catholic, Mike Ivlow was the fullback when he wasn’t dinged up last year. Now he is quicker, having shed 25 pounds — he’s down to 205 — and can’t wait to show his wares as a featured running back.

Both will benefit from blocking — and how. Both teams have three returning starters in their large offensive lines, talented, tough tight ends and fullbacks (the Celtics’ David Kaminski and the Hilltoppers’ Ben Hart) who are strong blockers.

“Offense is going to be a huge factor in this game,” Boykin said. “Maybe not as many points as last year, but there will be a lot.”

Directing each offense are kids who have not been varsity starters previously but can play. Athletic senior Nick Morrison gives Joliet Catholic one of those dual-threat quarterbacks, running and throwing, Sharp has used so effectively through the years. Incidentally, Morrison is a better thrower than many believe.

For Providence, senior Sam Abraham and junior Justin Hunniford have battled for the quarterback job all summer and fall. The reason Coglianese has not named a starter and will not until after Friday’s intrasquad game is that both have played so well.

The defenses, which are relatively inexperienced on both sides, may be hard pressed to keep the scoreboard from spinning.

It’s only eight days away.

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