By MICHAEL LETENDRE
Over the past couple of weeks, the Plainville Observer has taken a critical look at Plainville High School athletics to determine if the Central Connecticut Conference is the right place for the Blue Devils.
I pulled apart the last three season’s worth of fall and winter scholastic action to try to figure if the CCC is either wrong or right for Plainville.
Again, the results were mixed but getting to the bottom of this is important because if your program are going to flounder (Plainville is hardly doing that but going up again Class LL schools all the time doesn’t help…) or struggle, perhaps change is necessary.
And sometimes, change is really a good thing.
Let’s begin our third installment with a look at spring scholastic seasons gone past and attempt to answer this critical CCC question:
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 25-17
Best finish during that time: In both 2011 and 2012, Plainville went a sparkling 9-5 in CCC South play.
Worst finish during that time: Last season, the Blue Devils went 7-7 but did post a couple victories over bigger, CCC schools.
All-Conference players from 2011-13: Dylan Chasse, Tom Dinda, Chris Kuzia, Matt Thomas (2) and Tyler Pina.
Analysis: Plainville baseball has been in that upper tier of CCC South play over the years and posting a ledger that’s eight games over .500 in division play is excellent.
The Blue Devils have hung tough in both CCC South and Interdivisional action and when things work out, looked what happened in 2012.
Anytime you win a state championship, Plainville’s eighth of all-time, your team is pretty darn good.
With the likes of all conference talents like Tommy Dinda, Tyler Pina and Dylan Chasse, you’re in great shape.
And where would the Blue Devils without the likes of past warriors such as Chris Kuzia (remember during the championship game when he hustled down the first base line, picked up an errant throw, whizzed the ball to second to gun the runner down?) and Matt Thomas?
Smallish Plainville was able to compete with the big boys because it had an outstanding nine on the field but not a huge bench after that.
Credit belongs to coaches Bob Freimuth and Lou Mandeville for keeping Plainville competitive in the tough CCC South.
Is the CCC right for Plainville baseball: Honestly, the answer is no.
Without trying to draw any wrath here from CCC officials, the Blue Devils CCC Interdivisional schedule was a joke and Plainville should N-E-V-E-R be battling Southington in anything, period.
That’s the exact problem with CCC athletics.
The top teams in each of the four divisions battle each other and so on and so forth down the CCC line, regardless of school or class size.
If you’re in that bottom tier, it’s easier to compete frankly.
But thanks to Plainville baseball winning all the time (shame on the program for being successful), it gets stuck in this upper-tier bracket and is “rewarded” with a game against Southington who has like six zillion athletes to choose from.
Even playing the Class LL baseball teams like Bristol Central or a Class L school in Bristol Eastern is not right.
The football alignment would work best here, which would keep the Blue Devils playing that small school schedule and keep those pesky Knights away from Plainville.
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 8-34
Best finish during that time: Just this past season, the Blue Devils went 4-10 in CCC South action which included an amazing 3-2 victory over Bristol Eastern – its first ever program win against a Bristol school since entering the South.
Worst finish during that time: In 2011-12, Plainville went 2-12 during both campaigns.
All-Conference players from 2011-13: Cheyenne Dalke (2), Megan Johnson and Katy Dressel.
Analysis: Plainville has had trouble within the CCC South in terms of wins and losses.
The Blue Devils always compete and has a boatload of girls ready to play but it’s simply a numbers game for the program.
This past year, for instance, the Blue Devils did really well with two-time All CCC South performer Cheyenne Dalke and Katy Dressell in the 3-4 spots but the rest of the team was on the young side.
Injuries took its toll on the team as well and without big numbers as back-ups in the dugout, head coach Jen Micowski had to reshuffle the roster from time to time.
Is the CCC right for Plainville softball? No.
Look, the town of Bristol is a softball machine and while some of the Plainville girls get top play with those athletes on travel teams, AAU and the like, there’s no comparison when they all get to the high school level.
Yes, the Plainville win against the Lancers was a huge triumph and a big win, but how many times can the Blue Devils do that against teams that are bigger and carry more girls?
When Plainville squares off against Bristol Central, in my eyes, it’s an unfair match-up because the Rams have a stacked bench and simply a bigger pool to draw from.
Class LL versus Class M fails on any and all levels.
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 29-11
Best finish during that time: Just this past season, Plainville was an outstanding 11-2 in CCC South action and just two games behind division winner Berlin (13-0).
Worst finish during that time: I guess you could call the Blue Devils’ 9-5 record in 2011 its worst finish but that’s an excellent tally any season of the year.
All-Conference players from 2011-13: Aaron Forino, Richard Hanson, Andrew Chapman, Nick Lea, Nick D’Amico, and Mike Costantini.
Analysis: Since you can only have five golfers out there on the green scoring, if you have a pretty good group – like Plainville does – you can compete and do well.
The Blue Devils are one of the top squads in the South over the last three seasons and have won 29 of 40 CCC South encounters.
The South is loaded with contenders and numerous towns like Bristol and Meriden have beautiful courses right in their own backyard.
But you don’t have to travel too far to practice and play if you’re from Plainville so that advantage doesn’t always pan out.
The Plainville program is highly respected, has churned out several top players like Richard Hanson and Andrew Chapman over the years, and can compete with any squad.
Is the CCC right for Plainville golf?: This is the only yes you’ll see here today.
Of course, a bigger program always has more athletes – or golfers – in it but the Blue Devils, for being a Class M school, don’t suffer too much here.
There’s a high standard here in town when it comes to golf and Plainville meets and matches that quality play each and every time it’s out on the green.
But, the Naugatuck Valley League is a very good golfing conference with lots of quality places to tee off from. Hmmm…
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 11-8-1
Best finish during that time: Last season, Plainville finished a quality 4-3 in CCC South meets.
Worst finish during that time: In 2011, the Blue Devils were .500 at 3-3-1.
All-Conference players from 2011-13: Adam Foster (2), Andrew Rottier (2), Peter Dalena, Dom D’Onofrio, Adam Foster, Brian Lister, Kevin Waite, Ryan Acey, Malik Gordon, Quentin Lux, Omar Abdelsame, and Zeke Wells.
Analysis: For such a small school, Plainville certainly can compete on the track and in the field, no doubt.
This squad doesn’t have huge numbers either but when you look at the likes of Malik Gordon or Brian Lister, one athlete can be successful in three or four events.
The Blue Devils – unlike some of the bigger schools such as Central or Eastern – can’t have specialists in events, meaning just running or throwing in one race or contest, but it doesn’t faze the Blue Devils in the least.
When you look at the Central or Middletown squads, usually the best the CCC South has to offer over the past three years, the number of athletes is staggering and you can have full-on JV heats in numerous events with those bigger schools.
But Plainville just plugs away and does just fine.
Is the CCC right for Plainville boys track?: Nope.
Bristol Central has about a zillion kids on its team and in a perfect world, the Blue Devils can’t match that.
Yes, the Plainville program is still growing and is ultra successful but the sheer number of boys that other schools have at their disposal makes it almost unfair.
I’m sure if you let someone like Omar Abdelsame have his way, he’d be running every event, throwing in every field challenge (just don’t park a car next to the javelin area), and doing very well in the process.
You can’t say that the Blue Devils don’t compete, that’s for sure.
Plainville is a track town and it’s a credit to the squad that they keep pace with the big boys of the South.
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: Under .500
Best finish during that time: In 2012, Plainville went 3-2 in CCC South play.
Worst finish during that time: Last season, the Blue Devils had a tough go at it.
All-Conference players from 2011-13: Alyssa Mills, Alle Caponigro (2) and Shea Echols.
Analysis: Plainville’s track team is a scrappy bunch but it’s tough going in a loaded CCC South.
All the major players are simply bigger than the Blue Devils and while the squad can compete with the Bulkeleys, Platts and the like, Plainville has all the same problems when matching up against Bristol Central, Eastern, and Middletown.
Unless your team has six or seven Shea Echols (she’s one heck of an athlete) and a bench to boot, the Rams, Lancers, and Blue Dragons are just loaded and much deeper.
Is the CCC right for Plainville girls track?: Here’s your hat…what’s your hurry?
Absolutely not and there needs to be a serious shake-up to the division if Plainville decides to stay.
Aren’t Platt and Maloney – like Enfield and Fermi – going to be under the same roof sooner or later?
What’s going to happen then when Plainville faced against a Meriden giant?
Something needs to give here…before it’s too late.
CCC South Record over the last three seasons: 5-16
Best finish during that time: The 2011-12 seasons saw the Blue Devils post 2-5 CCC records.
Worst finish during that time: In 2013, Plainville went 1-6 in league play.
All-Conference players from 2011-13: None
Analysis: Plainville has a small program but still puts a good product out on the court.
The Blue Devils won four meets, down two in 2012 but just have such a tough slate of matches to play within the division.
Tennis has a long tradition in Plainville and even with small numbers at its disposal, the team continues to face everyone and every team in its collective path.
Plainville just re-did the tennis courts at the high school and it looks better than ever on the edge of campus.
Maybe that will bring the Blue Devils a little luck this coming year.
Is the CCC right for Plainville girls tennis: Not at all.
The Plainville tennis program was pretty big and had both girls and boys programs during its early Northwest Conference days.
But nowadays, it’s just too small to compete with the class of the CCC South and changes are needed and overdue frankly.
That football line-up would work here, as Plainville could be a very competitive program (record wise) in the right set-up.
Things are just vastly different between Plainville’s program and, say, Bristol Eastern.
This is just a typical example on why the CCC needs a realignment of sorts before schools decide to leave the fray (Nobody Chases Chubby Cats…do you understand this reference? Take the first letter of each word and out it together. Then you have…).
Today’s Conclusion: Is it time to leave the CCC?
Well, you decide.
I’m made a couple cases on why Plainville should and shouldn’t be a member of the league anymore.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and questions still remain if (or when) Plainville leaves the CCC, where it could go and when it could start in the new league.
But the overall picture is pretty in some places and not so much in others.
Next week, I’ll give you my answer on what Plainville athletics should do.