By KEN MORSE
For the second year in a row, Frankie Griffin and company have pulled off the near impossible as they head into the Thanksgiving Day game at Farmington. Can they complete the mission and be able to end their high school career to say the words mission accomplished?
This rag tag group of football players, most of them have been playing together since the fifth grade, have seen the highs and lows of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
In the process, they have turned a good football team into one of the great football teams in the history of Plainville High School. Only four teams over the past 20 years have posted a four game winning streak or better and this group has done it two years in a row.
The difference between a good football team and a great football team is often measured by their ability to overcome adversity. What this team has overcome in the past two years is nothing short of impossible.
Plainville went 0-10 in the first year under new head coach Tim Shea. Last year, the winless streak was broken or, was it? The Blue Devils tumbled out of the gate to a 1-4 start.
That’s when this team went to work to bang the nails out winning four in a row and turn another dismal season into a respectable 5-5 finish. This year, the odds were stacked even higher when senior captains Griffin (illness) and Brady Callahan (injury) were out the lineup and a season filled with such hope was quickly fading away with a 2-3 start.
Once again with their backs to the wall the Blue Devils showed off the heart of a champion and throttled the next four opponents. Just like that a season that was circling the drain is now 6-3, the first winning season in four years and only the third in 15 years.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to comeback from an injury to be part of all this,” said senior captain (running back) Brady Callahan. “Every year you go out and expect to win games. We bought into the process and we were able to turn in around in the second half of the season.”
Standing in the way of the perfect ending is an Indians team that comes into the fray at 4-4 on the season with one more game remaining against CREC on Friday Nov 16 after the Observer went to press.
Farmington came into Tinty Field last year at 1-7 and put an end to the Blue Devils’ winning ways earning a 21-7 win. The Indians hold a six game to one edge over Plainville in the Thanksgiving matchup for the Olde Canal Cup with the Blue Devils prevailing in 2014.
The Indians are (143 points) averaging 18 points per game while allowing (234 points) 29 points per game led by junior quarterback Jacob Conrad 111-222 passing for 1,167 yards and 10 touchdown passes.
Senior Pascal Borrell at 6-4, 317 anchors both lines of scrimmage for Farmington with senior running back Angel Velez carrying for 482 yards and four touchdowns and junior wide receiver Niko Bouzakis leading the way with 30 catches for 342 yards and three touchdowns.
“We need to come out every quarter at 100 percent,” said senior captain (linebacker) Jason Mills. “We need to play in space and wrap up our tackles. That’s been the key to the four game streak we are on.”
The Blue Devils are (256 points) averaging 28 points per game while allowing (191 points) 21 points per game. During the four game winning streak, Plainville has outscored the opposition 146-34.
Plainville is led in the trenches by senior tackle Sam Lestini, sophomore guard Dante Chambrello, junior center Logan Caswell, junior guard Ty Pales, and sophomore tackle Adrien Marcos.
On defense, the Blue Devils are manned by senior nose tackle Mike McGinley, senior line backers Mills and Alex Hernandez along with junior Mason Sarra with sophomore cornerbacks Xavier Pastor and Tanner Callahan.
“They did a great job last year keeping us inside,” said senior captain (quarterback) Frankie Griffin. “We are a fast team, not bigger than anybody. We need to be able to block their quick linebackers and get to the outside where our speed can be a factor.”
“Every single one of those guys in the locker room is a soldier. To do what we did, turning around a season like that two years in a row says a lot about the character of this team.”
Griffin is 81-131 passing for 1,032 yards and four touchdown passes while rushing for 663 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior Brendan Quilter has 545 yards rushing with six touchdowns and Brady Callahan has rushed for two touchdowns and has 202 receiving yards in just four games since returning from injury.
Sophomore Christian Collin is the favorite target for Griffin hauling in 27 catches for 424 yards along with sophomore Dylan Hall 20 catches for 279 yards. Senior Marcos Gutierrez and sophomore Dom Chambrello are also deep threats hauling in touchdown passes.
Field position will dictate the momentum of the game and Plainville relies on junior kick returner Fabi Laoz (3 rushing TDs) averaging 17 yards per return and has taken one the length of the field for a score.
“Records go out the window on Thanksgiving,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea. “The seniors for the most part are playing in their last game ever and they are going to go out and play that way. In that scenario, anything can happen and it certainly is not dependent on your record.”
“I’m extremely proud of this team and for the challenges they’ve overcome. We have great senior leadership. They stepped up and made it happen. We’ve learned some hard lessons along the way and if that helps them to become a better person then they have learned the greatest lessons possible.”
It will come down to the team that makes the less mistakes and takes advantage of very opportunity that is presented. The Blue Devils will also carry the added advantage of being able to overcome adversity, which has been their calling card all season long.