Dominic Lagone would do anything he’s asked to do for Providence.
The senior proved it last season, when a variety of circumstances propelled him to the top of the depth chart at quarterback even though his experience had been at running back. He helped the Celtics reach the second round of the Class 7A playoffs en route to an 8-3 finish.
But now junior Justin Hunniford is enjoying a productive season as Providence’s QB, allowing Lagone to go back where he belongs.
Returning to his roots seems to suit Lagone well: on Saturday he ran 40 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns as the Celtics knocked out defending Class 6A champ Crete-Monee 25-14 in a 6A opener. For leading the Celtics (6-4) into a second-round matchup at Quincy, Lagone is the Sun-Times Athlete of the Week.
“A lot more comfortable knowing what I’m doing,” Lagone said, comparing this season to last. “A lot easier mentally.”
But Lagone also is a lot tougher on opposing defenses thanks to work in the weight room that has him up to 190 pounds on a 5-11 frame.
“He’s a little quicker, he’s definitely a little bit stronger than last year,” Providence coach Mark Coglianese said. “He really dedicated himself in the offseason knowing he was going to carry the ball and carry the load for us.”
In fact, Lagone made plenty of plays with his legs last fall and that experience has served him well now that he’s the featured back.
“Last year I was kind of a runner,” he said. “It got me used to playing with bigger guys, taking a hit.”
Opponents haven’t even seen the full extent of Lagone’s versatility, according to Coglianese.
“We work [him] a little on defense in practice,” the coach said. “He could probably be our best defensive back.”
Playing on that side hasn’t really been in the cards so far because the goal is to keep Lagone as fresh as possible for offense. Not that fatigue is an issue with the Celtics’ workhorse.
“When he comes off the field, he’s ready to go [again],” Coglianese said. “He doesn’t get tired.”
But as the Celtics go deeper into November, don’t be surprised to see Lagone playing even more snaps, maybe in a nickel defensive package.
“I think about what Mike Ditka said about Walter Payton,” Coglianese said. “He’s a great football player. He may not be the fastest, may not be the biggest …”
But Lagone is the guy the Celtics went to on Saturday when they needed to get their mojo back after watching a 12-0 lead turn into a 14-12 deficit.
On a fourth-down play in Crete territory in the third quarter, Lagone got the ball and the first down.
“We had to step up and make a play and get the momentum back,” Coglianese said.
Lagone deflected the credit: “The offensive line had a great surge.”
It all added up to what Providence needed to keep its season alive. Lagone’s focus is on Quincy now, but he’s hoping his football career is not nearing the end.
“I’m going to play somewhere [in college],” he said.
Where that will be, Lagone doesn’t yet know. But he’s proved himself to be pretty adaptable in the past, so that may not be too much of a problem now.