By KEN MORSE
When (5-4) Plainville takes on (1-7) Farmington Thanksgiving morning for a 10 a.m, showdown at Alumni Field, the Blue Devils will be looking to start a new trend in the 7th annual Olde Canal Cup rivalry.
The Indians have won five of the six matchups since the holiday rivalry began in 2011 when the CCC realigned its divisions. The Blue Devils used to line up on Thanksgiving Day taking on Northwest Catholic but either way the turkey has always tasted dry on Thanksgiving Day for the Blue and White.
Plainville has only won twice in the last 15 years on Turkey Day, once in 2001 and the last victory came in 2014. In fact in the last 58 years since 1958, the Blue Devils have only tasted victory 12 times.
But there is a new cook in the kitchen. The Blue Devils brought in former Woodland coach Tim Shea to take over the reins when Chris Farrell took over the Athletic Director position.
Plainville went 0-10 last season including a 55-10 loss to Farmington but coach Shea had only about three weeks to prepare for the season. What a difference a year makes.
Shea, who guided Woodland to three state playoff appearances in six seasons while compiling a 44-23 record including a 3-3 mark in the post season and is a big fan of Thanksgiving leading the Hawks to a 5-1 record in the holiday classic.
“The Farmington record is a bit deceiving,” said Shea. “They have played some real good opponents tough and were in the game. But it’s Thanksgiving and you can really throw the records out the window. Both teams are going to be raring to go.”
“It all comes down to, how do you want to go out? How do you want to be remembered? The environment is jacked up a little more. It’s really a combination of a lot of things and playing at home should give us a little bit of an edge.”
Plainville comes into this game red hot having won four straight— a marked improvement over last year. What better way to end the season than to keep their winning ways alive and have one of the best turkeys they have had in awhile.
Farmington may not be having a whole lot of success on the season but they come into the fray with a team that can put the ball in the end zone— scoring 95 points and allowing 261 points for head coach Chris Machol.
Senior quarterback Zac Conrad leads the Indians with 950 yards passing and eight touchdown tosses with senior receiver Dante Colagiovanni leading the team at 520 yards and three touchdown catches.
On the ground, Farmington is led by senior running back Jack Beisel with 311 yards and two TD’s and Conrad has scrambled for 237 yards and four TD’s. On defense, junior Max Bartholomay leads the team with 60 combined tackles and three sacks.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Blue Devils as they started out 1-4 scoring 60 points and allowing 153 points. Over the last four games, Plainville has put 135 points on the board and has allowed just 76 points going 4-0 down the stretch.
Junior quarterback Frank Griffin is the playmaker, completing 111 of 214 passes for 1,477 yards and 12 touchdown passes while running for 355 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I think we have a lot of momentum going into this game with Farmington,” said Griffin, who accounted for all four touchdowns (two passing, two running) in the last win 28-21 over Avon on Nov. 11.
“Having home field advantage should really give us the edge on Thanksgiving. We really got it going in the second half of the season and lately the defense has really come on.”
It all begins up front in the trenches with junior center Mike McGinley, junior left guard Jason Mills and senior captain right guard Nick Cianchetti with junior left tackle Alec Karal and junior right tackle Sam Lestini.
On the ground, senior running back E.J. Wynkoop has six rushing touchdowns with receiver/ back junior Brady Callahan compiling 853 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.
Senior captains Cody Marquis has 265 yards receiving and three touchdowns and Ben Root has 272 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Mason Sarra has been automatic on extra points and has booted three long range field goals.
On defense, Callahan at free safety leads the team with 81 combined tackles with Mills at linebacker recording 74 and Lestini at defensive end coming up with 72. Senior Jerimiah Miller is at nose guard with senior Justin Ciotto at defensive end. Cianchetti is at middle linebacker, seniors Denzyl Rosado and Marquis are at cornerback with Root and sophomore Fabi Laoz at strong safety.
The last time Plainville won on Thanksgiving was in 2014 a 32-7 victory over the Indians. Farmington leads the all-time series 27-25-1 and in the six years of playing on Thanksgiving for the Olde Canal Cup, the Indians have held a wide margin outscoring the Blue Devils 214-68.
“I don’t know if you would call it payback,” said Shea. “We are certainly looking to come out of it with a win and head off into the offseason on a positive note with something to build on.”