By MICHAEL LETENDRE
Last week, the Plainville Observer started to look at Plainville athletics with a single question in mind: Is the CCC, the Central Connecticut Conference, the right place for Blue Devils’ athletics.
After taking a critical look at the fall season, the results are mixed.
There’s such a big picture and scope to determine when looking at moving or making changes because when your school is so small, the right fit is necessary.
Don’t forget, Plainville was in a pre-CCC South division of sorts in the mid-to-late 1970s called the Colonial Conference.
And that fit seemed pretty snug for the Blue Devils.
That conference contained – among others –Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, Maloney, and Platt.
For various reasons, Plainville left that formation (before the league disbanded in 1983) so this is a legit and viable proposition to look at.
Eventually, Plainville shifted into the Northwest Conference.
But down the road, the whole Northwest Conference wanted to make the shift into the CCC in 1996.
This week, we’re going to take a look at the teams from the winter scholastic season and how they’ve done over the last three seasons in terms of record, size and fit in mind:
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 8-34
Best finish during that time: In 2010-11, the Blue Devils went 6-8 in the CCC South and, thanks in part to the scoring exploits of Chase Tarca, Plainville went to the state tournament.
Worst finish during that time: Last season, Plainville did not win a game.
All-Conference players from 2010-12: Chase Tarca, Eric Fischer (Fischer did not make the all conference team. He was the 13th place vote finisher out of 12 possible spots though the coach who tallied all the votes tried to get him onto the team).
Analysis: Plainville is the smallest school in CCC South play and in terms of every small team that faces larger ones just about every single night, you know what happens on the scoreboard.
This is not Hoosiers here.
And head coach Marc Wesoly is correct in the fact that most players in town won’t pick up a basketball until the start of practice season because, well, most of those guys are usually playing another sport or what have you.
The Blue Devils had scoring ace Chase Tarca and with that talent in hand, Plainville was able to compete with just about anyone. But he’s a one-in-a-10 year type of player.
Other towns have bigger feeder systems and play in multiple summer leagues and it’s tough for Plainville to match that type of commitment every single season.
Last year, though, having talents like Eric Fischer and Shane Pugliese on the squad, the Blue Devils were winless on the campaign.
Is the CCC right for Plainville boys basketball? NO.
Plainville is a classic example of having a small team that shouldn’t be competing against Class L or LL foes.
The Blue Devils shouldn’t be playing the schools with the size of Bristol Central and it still doesn’t make sense why it should have to.
The rotating CCC schedule, in which teams play each other in terms of past record, fails on this level and there’s no easy fix.
The CCC football method might work here and playing schools like Rocky Hill, Weaver, and maybe even Fermi of Enfield, in the same conference would work.
Yes, you might have to drive a couple extra miles to play an opponent but the set-up is sound and suits smaller teams better.
Something needs to be done.
However, several area coaches know that Plainville should be a handful if Fischer and Pugliese are back in the fold this coming season.
But a change would be helpful.
And regardless of record, here’s what I think about the boys’ counterparts…
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 20-22
Best finish during that time: The Blue Devils went 9-5 in CCC South action in 2011-12 and for the first time ever, Plainville went to the CCC Girls Tournament and won a playoff game in the process.
Worst finish during that time: In 2010-11, Plainville won only three of 14 conference games as the young team took its lumps within the division.
All-Conference players from 2010-12: Nikki Dow, Mikayla Wells, Kelsey Clemens (2), Katy Dressel
Analysis: Plainville has been more than competitive within the CCC South and despite smaller numbers, the Blue Devils have been successful.
That’s thanks to, in part, to a talented group of girls that’s included the likes of Kelsey Clemens, Mikayla Wells, Katy Dressel, Alle Caponigro and so on.
When you’re only two games under .500 in the competitive CCC South over the last three scholastic seasons, your team is better than average in the tough division.
The Blue Devils have taken its lumps against squads like Bristol Eastern and Berlin over the years but again, bigger schools, more girls, more competitive tryouts, tougher cuts are made at the end of preseason.
There’s simply more talent available from those Class LL and L giants.
But coach Jen Micowski has done a masterful job mixing and matching talent to make this Plainville team the best it could possibly be.
Those postseason tournaments prove that very fact.
Is the CCC right for Plainville girls basketball? Negative.
There’s no division within the CCC that’s right for Plainville though the
Blue Devils have proven to be a tough act to follow whether it’s squaring off against Bulkeley or Bristol Eastern.
But the South is competitive and a small team like Plainville would be better off playing in a league – again – with similarly sized schools.
Look, nothing is EVER going to be perfect but you can’t have Plainville squaring off against the likes of Southington in anything (Thanksgiving football from back in the day has taught us that…).
Bluntly, I love the girls program where it’s at in Plainville, but wouldn’t it be better taking on a conference with the likes of Granby Memorial? (Almost gave it away there…).
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: Under .500
Best finish during that time: Plainville was 4-1 in the 2010-11 and just missed winning a CCC South title. The squad went 12-3 overall.
Worst finish during that time: Over the last two seasons, Plainville has been sub-.500 in CCC South action.
All-Conference swimmers from 2010-12: Andy Lee, Cam Nqgaso, Aaron Forino ,Mike Rottier, Cam Rottier, Peter Dalena, Andrew Rottier, Wojciech Plachta.
Analysis: Plainville has been a credible competitor in the pool in the CCC over the years and in the South, the Blue Devils have been more than competitive.
The squad has had numerous all conference performers in the pool so the talent swimming – whether it’s been Andy Lee or Wojciech Plachta – could hang with any squad in the CCC South.
The pool set up in Plainville is excellent and it’s taken a little time for other towns like Bristol – who now has a pool at the Little League Center complex – to catch up.
Just like the girls, the boys program has held its own since its Northwest Conference days.
Is the CCC right for Plainville boys swimming? The team is competitive, the league is still growing, and some teams even have to co-op to put a squad out there for every meet.
Plainville is a good fit there and the CCC South hasn’t grown big enough where larger schools can dominate because of size.
As long as that exists, the Blue Devils are in a satisfactory place.
If (or when) the South tries to absorb the likes of Southington and Newington back into the division, then Plainville should bail out.
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: Under .500
Best finish during that time: Plainville made a 2-4 finish in 2010-11 in the ultra-competitive CCC South.
Worst finish during that time: Over the last two seasons, the Blue Devils are a combined 0-12 in league action.
All-Conference wrestlers from 2010-12: Matthew Tanner, Robert Voisine, Jake Pietrowicz, Kevin Spence, Brian Lister.
Analysis: If you’re a competitor in the Plainville wrestling program, you certainly have the talent.
The problem is the rest of the league, and that problem is size.
Bristol’s feeder system is incredible and almost like a machine, it spits out tremendous mat technicians left and right.
For a small town like Plainville, head coach Rusty Spence doesn’t have that luxury and even though he has a small yet, hungry army of athletes eager to compete, the CCC South has always been about a numbers game.
It’s a game the Blue Devils, or any small program, is tough to stay in.
You can throw out guys out there like Brian Lister, Kevin Spence and the like over the years and you’ll win those matches but you need to capture multiple events at those CCC South meets to be competitive.
It’s simply a tall order for Plainville to match up against Bristol Eastern or Central to Platt and Maloney.
Size matters in wrestling and smaller programs always pay the proverbial price in this sport.
Is the CCC right for Plainville wrestling? Oh heck no.
I have no easy answer for this problem either.
Wrestling in the CCC South, thanks to the Bristol schools, is no place for the Blue Devils or any small school (or for any big school for that matter when talking about wrestling in Bristol…).
Sure, you can lump Plainville in with all the other smaller schools of the CCC – including the likes of Fermi, Rocky Hill, etc – but all those other places just seem to be able to draw so many other athletes.
There’s simply no easy solution for the wrestling issue.
Gymnastics, ice hockey, indoor boys and girls track: Plainville does not compete in any of those sports.
Analysis: First of all, not too many CCC South schools have all those other sports unless you come from a place like Southington, Glastonbury or Newington (a.k.a., big schools).
The Bristol schools have indoor track but a place like St. Paul of Bristol – from the Naugatuck Valley League (hmmm…) – doesn’t have many schools participating in those sports either.
Heck, St. Paul doesn’t even have a wrestling squad and the couple boys over the years that did wrestling, were independents and trained with the Bristol Central team.
So why did I even bother to bring up sports that Plainville doesn’t participate in?
Because it’s quite possible if Plainville decides to leave the CCC, the school would have to pick up a sport (or two) while joining another league.
I’m sure there’s one sport in particular (lacrosse) that Plainville would have to start up if it moves somewhere, oh, up North a little bit (Never Choose Chubby Cheetos).
However, that sport would steal some athletes out of an already small pool of boys that would be available for action.
Today’s conclusions: I’m still up in the air – sort of – about Plainville leaving the CCC for greener pastures.
But a strong point seems to be made after taking a look at the basketball and wrestling programs that a move might be in order.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the spring sports.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE