By KEN MORSE
You could see it coming like a rainstorm chasing away a crisp fall day. Ever since Tim Brown took over the reigns as head coach of the boys soccer program at Plainville High School in 2007, there was just something different in the air.
Each year the team got better, and each year the team went farther than it ever had before. Last season was one for the record books as Plainville laid claim to the school’s first ever boys’ soccer state championship.
Among the elation and celebration of the prestigious event, truthfully, no one was surprised. They all saw it coming like a rain cloud in the distance. It was just a matter of time.
What coach Brown, assistant coach Bruce Builion and the staff of assistants have accomplished over the past 12 seasons has literally changed the groundwork of a program that struggled for a better part of a decade.
When coach Brown arrived Plainville had won just three games over a three-year span and hadn’t been to the state tournament in ten years. Fast forward, over the past 11 years the Blue Devils have been a mainstay in the Class M tournament sporting a gaudy 20-10 record in the postseason with two semifinal appearances, three straight quarterfinal appearances and last year a state championship.
So what do the Blue Devils do for an encore? “Win another state championship,” said Brown, as a matter of fact. “That will be our biggest challenge. If that isn’t our philosophy, then what are we doing here?”
Plainville did lose nine seniors from last season and all were key parts to a team that seemed to excel when the lights burned the brightest. That has done little to persuade the enthusiasm of coach Brown who has guided the Blue Devils to 11 straight postseason appearances sporting a 123-81-18 mark.
“Our guys got a taste last year of that kind of success,” said Brown. “And if anything it’s made them hungrier to taste it again.”
Coach Brown is a master of building things from the ground up, just like he did when he took over a fledging program. He has methodically developed talent from the freshman class right through to the upperclassman so Plainville does not enter this season empty-handed.
“This team comes in ready and we don’t need to waste valuable time getting into shape,” said Brown. “They all know what’s expected of them and they have played a ton of games over the summer. We never enter a season wondering what we are going to do, we already know what we are going to do.”
Plainville boasts 11 seniors coming back led by senior captains Logan Miller and Brady Beausoleil. Senior defender Jacob Pierce, midfielders Jens Wadehn, Nathan Cyr and Dalton Baker team up with seniors Jared Serrano-Aviles, Reno Lausier and Luis Fernando Arango along with Joseph Page and Matthew Stanczykiewicz to provide strong leadership.
“Logan (scored winning goal in semifinals) and Brady (4 year player) lead by example,” said Brown. “Reno is back from an ACL injury and he will be a good asset for us.”
Junior Patrick Gryczewski, who set up the game winner in the championship, along with juniors Tanner and Tucker Rau, are three more players with a vast amount of varsity experience to help guide the Blue Devils back to the postseason.
“Patrick in my book is one of the three best players in the state,” said Brown.
Plainville will have sophomore Brennan Staubley in goal along with junior Nathan Masco and senior Joe Raimondi.
“We have a real nice mix as far as our keepers go.” added Brown. “We have some holes to plug but we have some very capable players who will fill those roles.”
“We will take a few knocks along the way playing in the CCC. I’m not too concerned about that. It’s all about progressing and making the adjustments to be at our best when the postseason comes around.”
One of the best assets the Blue Devils have is the stoic presence of their head coach along the sidelines bringing a quiet sense of confidence in the face of the storm. That attitude is engrained in his players and through whatever adversity the Blue Devils have beenshown. They are up for any challenge.
“This is a new season. We have put all the talk about last year behind us. A Plainville kid doesn’t know how to be cocky or brash. A Plainville kid plays with spirit, heart and is humble representing his school in that fashion,” Brown said.
Plainville will get the season underway on Thursday Sept. 12 at Farmington for a 6:30 p.m. contest. The Blue Devils will have their first home game the following week on Tuesday Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. hosting Wethersfield.