By KEN MORSE
The ominous start of the football season had the Plainville Blue Devils in search of a reason to believe. They got that reason last Friday in game three when senior captain and starting quarterback Frankie Griffin was cleared to play earlier than anyone expected.
After all that the Blue Devils have gone through, starting the season without two of their senior captains and trying to come to terms with an opening game blowout at the hands of Bloomfield, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.
Plainville came out in front of their home crowd fired up and ready to go against the perennial state playoff powerhouse Rocky Hill and Tinty Stadium was buzzing with # 11 throwing footballs on the sidelines in uniform ready for his senior season debut.
The presence of Griffin in the lineup adds a certain air of confidence for the Blue and White and that was evident by the four interceptions made by the defense wanting to do their part in a 48-13 dismantling of the Terriers of Rocky Hill.
“All that this team wanted to accomplish this season is still in front of them,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea. “We did a great job putting that first game behind us and now we have our focus on achieving some of the goals that we put before us.”
Griffin plain and simple is a difference maker as he rushed seven times for 77 yards scoring three touchdowns and threw for 148 yards and a touchdown on 8 of 13 passes.
Brendan Quilter led the running game for the second week in a row churning up 159 yards worth of real estate on eight carries including two long touchdown jaunts. Fabi Laoz picked up 29 yards on the ground and put the finishing touches on the victory scoring the final touchdown of the game.
“Coming into this game, we knew we were going to have Frankie back and the line did their job just as they did last week,” said Quilter.
Griffin found five receivers to throw to with Marcos Gutierrez latching onto to a 26 yard touchdown strike. The senior slinger converted third down passes to Dylan Hall (39 yards) and Dom Chambrello (14 yards) to move the chains; but it was Christian Collins (4 for 68 yards) who went up and pulled down several drive sustaining catches to spark the Blue Devils.
“It was a great way to come out here and make a statement,” said Griffin. “After the start we had, no one thought we would be able to do this. Rocky Hill is a great program and I think a game like this will show the rest of the conference that we are for real.”
Once again, the Plainville defense (four interceptions) continued to make big plays at crucial moments— helping the Blue Devils post its second straight 40 plus point game for the first time since 2011.
Rocky Hill came out and dominated up front going 48 yards on the ground in 10 plays picking up four first downs. The Terriers quarterback JaQuan Graham then went to the air hoping to cross up the Blue Devils only to have Collins (2 int.) make a leaping grab at the Plainville eight yard line.
The Terriers ran for 245 yards with Graham (14 for 100 yards), Shane Gallagher (seven for 71 yards), and Nick Capasso (six for 38 yards) picking up first downs. But when Plainville needed a stop, interceptions by Quilter and Hall along with Collins turned the tide of the game. The quick hitting line backing crew of Mason Sarra and Tanner Callahan led to three sacks and eight tackles for minus yards.
Rocky Hill did hold a 14-9 edge in first downs but six false start penalties showed a team that was getting a little over anxious trying to get back in the game. Plainville had no need of moving the chains as they had quick strike touchdowns that stunned the Terriers.
For the second game in a row, the Blue and White specialty team came through when Jason Mills blocked a punt to set up Plainville deep in Rocky Hill territory.
On a third and nine at the 20 yard line, Griffin lofted an over-the-shoulder pass to Chambrello for a 14 yard pickup and a first down. Two plays later, Griffin tucked the ball under his arm and took it five yards for the score completing the five play drive.
Rocky Hill got on the board with 6:58 left in the half on a Graham to Gallagher 65 yard pass play tying the game at 7-7. That was as close as it would get. On the next series, Griffin appeared to have overthrown Collins in a crowd but the sophomore sensation went up and pulled down a fingertip grab good for 31 yards.
Griffin then zigzagged his way down field on a 45 yard scamper into the end zone finishing a three play 85 yard drive. Just before the first half came to a close, Griffin threw a 26 yard sideline route to Gutierrez for a 21-7 lead.
Rocky Hill was still trying to make a game of it with Dominic Catania scoring on a 27 yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter. But Quilter made sure that notion was dashed quickly as he completed a one play drive taking it 74 yards to the house and then after the Terriers scored galloped another 56 yards for a score to make it a safe 41-13 lead with nine minutes to play.
Plainville will now take to the road, facing Berlin on Friday at 6 p.m. and next week they will take on RHAM of Hebron on Saturday at 1 p.m. After a bye week, the Blue Devils return to Tinty Stadium for homecoming week on Friday, Oct. 19 against Northwest Catholic at 6:30 p.m.