By KEN MORSE
There wasn’t whole lot of celebration going on last season for the Plainville football team but that all changed last Friday in the season opener against Bloomfield.
The Warhawks came in sporting a winning streak of 21 straight regular season games while the Blue Devils, who were 0-10 last season entered trying to put a halt to a 13 game losing skid.
It didn’t take a mathematician to realize that this game could go in the wrong direction in a hurry. But when you have a young team that is bubbling with talent anything can happen and it almost did.
Bloomfield one of the most revered programs in the state with six state championships and five times as runner-up in the past 25 years had to pull out all the stops to escape with an 18-13 win against a very surprising Blue Devils squad.
“I’m so proud of the way this team responded when we fell behind 12-0,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea. “To come back and take the lead four minutes later spoke volumes about the heart and character of this team.”
“Maybe no one thought we had a chance but the kids in that locker room knew they had a chance and believed it in their heart and that’s all it takes.”
Shea, who took over the Plainville team just six weeks prior to the start of last season knows a thing or two about succeeding on the gridiron. The former offensive coordinator and line coach for Post University guided the Woodland High School team to three state playoff appearances in six years at the helm culminating with being 2013 runner-up in the Class S state championship game.
What kept Plainville in this game was a defense that gave up yardage but made some incredible plays when they had to. Bloomfield started two possessions at the Plainville 21 yard line and 13 yard line and both times failed to put points on the board.
The Warhawks saw drives stall at the six and 15 yard line and lost another opportunity when Cody Marquis made an interception at the two yard line. Marquis also recovered a fumble with senior Ben Root picking up a fumble recovery and Brady Callahan intercepting a pass to lead the opportunistic Blue Devils defense.
Bloomfield had enough room up front to generate a running game with KyJuon Butler carrying 24 times for 198 yards and Anthony Simpson going 103 yards on 13 carries. The War Hawks managed 13 first downs but it was the 3 for 11 third down efficiency and the seven penalties for 90 yards including four personal fouls that slowed them down.
The scoreless deadlock finally came undone with 1:20 left before the half. Simpson broke off a 22 yard run and on the next play Butler found a seam up the middle and took it 54 yards to the house. Bloomfield held a 6-0 lead at the break after missing the extra point try.
“We made a big commitment in the offseason,” said Shea. “I told them if we can stop our opponent then good things will happen. That was our focus and we have enough skilled players coming back to get the offense going.”
“Root and Callahan are All Conference players and we have a lot of juniors stepping up. There is about 120 plays in a game and you really can’t pin point any one play on any one thing. It comes down to believing in each other and themselves.”
Bloomfield took a 12-0 lead at 6:29 left in the third quarter when quarterback Daron Bryden (9-19-95 yards) hooked up with Kamren Watkins on a 47 yard pass play.
It was now or never time for the young Blue Devils and junior quarterback Frank Griffin (14-29-155 yards) showed his leadership skills hitting Callahan on a third and nine pass that went for 18 yards. Griffin was four for five passing picking up 45 yards on the seven play drive culminating with Marquis pulling in an eight yard touchdown pass.
Felix La Oz recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick off and Plainville was back in business. Callahan (5 catches for 70 yards, 11 rushes for 47 yards) plunged ahead for six yards to get inside the 10 yard line. Griffin took it in from four yards out and Mason Sarra booted the extra point. After being down by two touchdowns four minutes later Plainville was ahead 13-12.
It was a long fourth quarter with the Blue Devils trying to hang on to the lead and Bloomfield desperately looking for a way to get back in the end zone. Finally at 3:28 left Bryden threw an 18 yard scoring pass to Watkins to give the Warhawks an 18-13 advantage.
Plainville had one final try with a chance to win the game, something that was unheard of last year. Griffin got them down to the Bloomfield 26 yard line before coming up short on a fourth and one run up the middle.
“I’ve never been a moral kind of victory guy,” said Shea. “But these kids are so close of turning this thing around. I’m eager to see how they show up for work tomorrow. We need to learn what we can from this game and just move on.”
Plainville will be on the road the next three weeks as they begin with Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver at Bulkeley High School Field on Saturday at 12 p.m.