By KEN MORSE
Plainville assistant coach Shawn Griffin has a love of the game of football and he shares that passion with his son Frank, the Blue Devilss record setting quarterback and senior tri-captain.
Shawn, a 1987 graduate from Putnam High School, was an All-Pequot Conference running back for the Clippers and played in the 1984 state championship game against Ansonia. During his high school career, the Clippers lost only four games going 10-0 twice along with a 7-3 mark and a 9-0-1 mark in his senior year.
He was recruited to play college football at Plymouth State but an injury ended his career. That hardly diminished his love of the game. He went back to his alma mater to help coach the 1993 team to a 10-0 mark and another shot at a state championship.
Shawn married Lindsay Manafort and when the couple’s first child was born the proud dad couldn’t wait to introduce his son to the game of football. As soon as Frank could stand up, Shawn would go out in the backyard to toss him a Nerf football and a bond developed between father and son.
A couple of years later daughter Julianna was born and the Griffin clan would all take part in the love of the game of football. Whenever Frank scored a touchdown or received a trophy, father and son would break out into end zone dances right there in the living room.
“Frank began playing tackle football in the Pop Warner league at seven years old,” said Shawn. “I had the best seat in the house and still do along the sidelines as his coach.”
A group of childhood friends, Brady Callahan, Sam Lestini, Christian Collin, and Mason Sarra were all on the same team and went 0-8 when Frank was in fifth grade. By the time, he reached eighth grade that team coached by his dad went 9-1 and played for the Conference Championship.
“I told my wife Lindsay if he develops a love of the game like I have,” said Shawn. “We need to support him in any way we could.”
Since eighth grade Frank has been under the tutelage of five star quarterback coach Travis Meyer who coached former New London High School quarterback Jordan Reed who went on to play for the University of Florida and is now playing for the Washington Redskins.
“I’m so proud as a father and a coach for all that Frank has achieved,” said Shawn. “There is no one who works harder or has the desire to win more than Frank. We knew he was going to be good, we just didn’t know he was going to be this good.”
What Frank has accomplished at Plainville will go down in school history and he has proven that already setting the single game rushing record of 323 yards and five touchdowns against East Catholic and the all-time career passing record of 3,726 yards.
His start was much like the Pop Warner experience when Frank took over at quarterback for the Blue Devils as a sophomore and Plainville went 0-10. The only way to go was up and after a slow 1-4 start in his junior year Frank rallied the team to a four game win streak to salvage the season.
The Griffin clan has always dreamed of moving south and that is where Frank wants to pursue his dream of playing college football. The hardest decision was made this past summer when Lindsay moved to South Carolina with daughter Julianna who was about to enter her freshman year.
“We didn’t want to have to pull Julianna out of school once she started high school,” said Shawn. “It was a tough decision to make and being away from his mother and sister entering his senior year has been tough on Frank. It’s been tough on all of us.”
Frank has had a few offers to go to Barry College in Georgia and Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania both playoff bound Division III programs and is also looking into Costal Carolina.
Sometimes, things that may appear to not have gone right are actually a blessing in disguise. Lindsay and Julianna flew up to see Frank play on senior night but got the date wrong. What they did see was Frank set the all-time Plainville career passing record.
“Having my mom and sister there meant the world to me,” said Frank. “Setting these two records are a special thing for me but I couldn’t have done any of it without my teammates.”
“Growing up, I always wanted to compete against my dad. He’s the one who introduced me to the game I love. It was tough as a youngster getting beat by my dad in video games but by 8, 9 years old I was beating him.”
“He taught me how to be a competitor. It inspired me to be a winner. This has been a journey for the entire family. Family means everything. Win or lose the support of your family means everything.”
Entering the final game of his high school career, Frank has rushed for 1,225 yards on 216 carries and scored 24 touchdowns and is 309-581 passing for 3,726 yards and thrown 20 touchdown passes.
As far as the Griffins are concerned, this ride is far from over. Frank’s best friend Jailen Lindsey is playing college football at Plymouth State and that is what the Blue Devils quarterback is looking to pursue when he graduates. Playing college football and taking the Griffin clan on another journey.