Illinois High School Football News

Providence’s postseason mystique vanishes in Class 4A title game loss to Sacred Heart Griffin

Third quarter by Cyclones surge squelches Celtics championship hopes

Providence Catholic head coach Tyler Plantz addresses his team after the Class 4A state title game on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

During Providence Catholic’s run to the Class 4A State Championship game, the Celtics secured whatever advantage it could, however small, to keep its postseason momentum train on the tracks.

They tried to duplicate that plan one more time on Friday night at the University of Illinois against Sacred Heart Griffin, but the Cyclones had other things in mind using a series of big plays to paper over whatever advantages the Celtics could manage to carve out.

Those advantages were few early in the game and almost entirely disappeared in a third quarter that saw any hope of Providence capping off its fantastic postseason journey with the biggest hardware as Sacred Heart Griffin captured a 44-20 victory to end Providence’s season with a 9-5 record.

Until that point, it looked as if Providence might still be in abie to find its way. Trailing just 21-14 at the break, the Celtics received the ball to start the second half.

The way Providence had been playing heading into the final game that drive ordinally would have likely served as potential beacon of hope, but it turned into an ominous sign. The drive was three-and-out and the same thing happened on the next Providence possession as well.

Meanwhile, Sacred Heart Griffin found its groove. The Cyclones capped a quick six-play drive with an 18-yard touchdown reception by Madixx Morris and after Providence’s next drive ended in a failed fake punt, SHG punched in another score on a Bill Sanders touchdown run. In less than four minutes, the Cyclones had extended a one touchdown lead to a three-score advantage.

“It was just a couple of missed blocks and a couple of missed tackles,” Providence coach Tyler Plantz said. “We had a sound plan. The guys knew what they were doing but it came down to execution and it was their day today. The score showed that, but sometimes that just happens in this game.”

“We had four or five hats to the ball and the guy slipped out and made a play. Those explosive runs were something we hadn’t allowed throughout the course of the year and they happened today.”

Providence went through the entire postseason allowing far less than its fair share of big plays but Sacred Heart Griffin seemed to determined to even out that ledger as best it could. Sanders broke off an 80-yard jaunt to start the fourth quarter, one that took Sacred Heart inside the Providence 20. After a penalty on SHG, Sanders would scoot the line and score from 15 yards. That put Sacred Heart Griffin over the 400-yard barrier in total offense for the game, a yardage total not even remotely approached by any other Providence opponent in the postseason.

“We knew we were going to look bad at times and they play man and they play against some great teams,” Sacred Heart Griffin coach Ken Leonard said. “But we’ve got great players and we’ve got guys that can run and we felt like we could get them the ball. We knew we’d miss a few, but our running backs can go.”

It wasn’t surprising to see Providence still didn’t fully succumb to its fate. The Celtics would score on 1-yard keeper by Lucas Proudfoot and tried everything it could think of to spark a rally but had much to big of a hole to try to climb out of.

But in the end, Plantz was simply thankful for what his players delivered for him in his first year at the helm.

“Our goal this year was to establish what it means to play Celtics football and they did it all year,” Plantz said. “They showed up and they did the work. And I could not be prouder of this group of seniors. They brought it back. We played against some of the best teams in the state every week and to be where we are right now. It’s obviously not where we want to be but it is a testament to these guys their hard work and where this program is going and where they are launching us to go.”