Football: Playing for everything on Thanksgiving

By KEN MORSE

CORRESPONDENT

It has been quite some time since the Blue Devils have played a game on Thanksgiving Day that meant so much. The bottom line is this: If Plainville (7-2) knocks off Farmington (5-4) they will secure a spot in the Class S state playoffs.

Currently ranked 8th in Class S, a loss to the Indians would derail their playoff hopes. This is the 9th annual Olde Canal Cup. Farmington, winners of 7-out-of-8 games, has owned this rivalry that was initiated in 2011 when the CCC realigned the divisions.

The only win on Thanksgiving against the Indians came in 2014, a 37-6 win at Farmington. In fact Turkey Day has not been kind to the Blue Devils as they have won just twice in the past 17 years on Thanksgiving and just 12 times in the last 58 years.

“We have everything that we have worked hard for right in front of us,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea. “It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Senior day, last home game, state playoffs on the line and its Thanksgiving. Can it get any bigger than this?”

This would be a prime spot for Plainville to break that trend and coach Shea is a big fan of Turkey Day especially home cooking since the Blue Devils will host the game at Tinty Stadium. Coach Shea was 5-1 on Thanksgiving when he held the reigns at Woodland for six seasons guiding the Hawks to three state playoff appearances.

The past two seasons Farmington managed to snap four game winning streaks by Plainville turning promising seasons into tough losses. In 2017 the Blue Devils ended up at 5-5 with a 21-7 setback and in 2018 an 18-17 loss turned playoff hopes into a 6-4 finish.

The last time Plainville made the state playoffs was in 2010 and even that team stumbled on Thanksgiving losing to Northwest Catholic 27-7 before getting knocked out by Gilbert in the Class S quarterfinals 41-6.

So what makes this season so different from past seasons? Plainville comes into this matchup with a sturdy defense that has allowed two touchdowns or less in 6 of 9 games allowing 124 points for an average of 15.5 per game.

They have surrendered an average of 109 yards rushing and 131 yards passing allowing an equal 8 touchdowns each rushing and passing in 9 games. The opportunistic defense has 15 sacks, 12 interceptions and 7 fumble recoveries.

Dylan Hall leads the team with 3 interceptions, Dom Chambrello has 2 fumble recoveries and Dante Chambrello has 6 sacks. Ty Pales and Ryan Barker put the pressure on along the defensive line of scrimmage.

“Our defense is pretty stellar,” said Hall. “Farmington is a pretty good team but we have been playing good all season and if we come out and continue to make plays we will do alright.”

It begins at the line of scrimmage and the Blue Devils have been getting it done on both sides of the ball all season long.

“Every year we have to work hard to try and beat Farmington,” said Dante Chambrello. “We just need to capitalize on our opportunities and it begins in the trenches. We will come out ready to play.”

On offense the Blue Devils averaging 23 points per game look to quarterback Christian Collin 128 carries for 822 yards and 9 touchdowns and 56 of 123 passing for 741 yards and 4 touchdown passes.

“In order to be successful it’s going to take execution from everyone,” said Collin. “If we all do our job we can finish what we started. Our offense is forever evolving. We have balance and we have a desire with the state playoffs right in front of us. But it’s going to take everyone doing their job to get it done.”

Plainville will certainly miss the production of four year starter Mason Sarra 424 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns who was injured and is out for the season. Beau Lasher has taken up the slack rushing for 294 yards and 5 touchdowns and lately Tanner Callahan 7 carries, 74 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 catches for 53 yards has been a viable option.

When Collin goes to the air Hall with 18 catches for 228 yards, 1 touchdown leads the team in receptions. Javan Paradis 16 catches for 249 yards and 3 touchdowns is equally as effective.

The Indians pose a real challenge, winners of three straight including back-to-back shutouts outscoring the opposition 82-0 in the last two games. The offense puts up 26 points per game while the defense has allowed an average of 22 points per game.

This game could be decided by which team makes the least amount of mistakes. Plainville has lost 7 fumbles and been intercepted 5 times while Farmington has an even 20-20 turnover ratio. The Indians have lost 7 fumbles and been intercepted 13 times while the defense has come away with 12 interceptions and recovered 8 fumbles.

Jacob Conrad at quarterback is 116 of 209 passing for 1,430 and 14 touchdown passes and has rushed for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns. Finn Sposato has rushed for 266 yards to lead the team with 3 touchdowns on the ground.

The Indians may be a light running the ball but have an effective passing game that can move the chains. Niko Bouzakis has caught 41 passes for 561 yards and 6 touchdowns with Mike Gregory hauling in 39 balls for 479 yards and 7 touchdowns.

“Farmington will be a challenge,” said Shea. “They are a Class L school, they are better than there record and no one is going to just hand us anything. We need to go out and get it. It’s up to us right now. We have to go out there and do our job.”

Plainville will be playing its biggest game since coach Shea took over the reigns four years ago. It will be senior day, a spot in the state playoffs is hanging in the balance and its Thanksgiving, a day that hasn’t been to kind to the Blue Devils in the past. But with everything on the table in this game Plainville will be ready to go up for a second helping.