A large, veteran offensive line always is a plus, especially when competing in one the state’s toughest conferences.
Since finishing second in Class 6A in 2009, Providence has gone 3-10 in the mighty Catholic League Blue, though the Celtics were 2-2 last season when they finished 8-3 overall. The only losses were to state championship-caliber teams — Loyola, Mount Carmel and Lincoln-Way East.
With nine state titles on its resume, Providence returns three starters on the offensive line and has solid blockers at tight end and fullback.
If coach Mark Coglianese’s team does take another step toward a return to the summit, the blockers will be vital.
“I’m happy to have the offensive line we have and to be able to say offense is a strength,” Coglianese said.
“We have the three starters back,” said 6-foot-3, 285-pound right tackle Logan Planz, the best of the trio that includes 6-1, 275 left tackle Evan Carston and 6-3, 235 center Dan Hermosillo. “It should be a great offensive line.
“We also have (227-pound) fullback David Kaminski and a tight end, (6-4, 210) Austin Garwood, who blocks. Nate Vejvoda is a good receiver and we can use him in a double-tight formation.”
Senior Sam Abraham and junior Justin Hunniford continue to battle for the quarterback job. Neither previously has been a varsity starter because Dominic Lagone, back at his natural tailback position, played quarterback for the first time last season and was more successful than anyone could have anticipated.
“Both quarterbacks are looking good,” Lagone said. “It helps that we have a lot of returning starters around them.”
“If we limit turnovers, limit mistakes, we should be good offensively,” Plantz said. “Dominic is bigger, faster, stronger, and with David Kaminski, we can ground and pound.”
Of course, there’s that other weapon on the outside, 6-5 junior wide receiver Miles Boykin, who will demand attention from opposing defenses.
“It’s scary to think how good Miles can be,” Coglianese said of the Division I prospect. “He improved so much over the summer. He just has to stay healthy.”
Vejvoda, Garwood and Luc Quaranta will join Boykin in forming a quality receiving corps.
On the defensive side, the Celtics are less experienced and relatively small. But they are quick.
“I like our speed,” safety Noah Cralle said. “We have to be really disciplined, and we have the speed to back it up.”
Matt Lahey also returns in the secondary and 255-pound Jeff Cesario at tackle. Lineman David Bell and linebacker Andrew Banathy received significant playing time last season.