By KEN MORSE
The Plainville Blue Devils stepped onto the gridiron at Tiny Stadium in the season opener against East Catholic with a lot of questions to be answered, following the graduation of 12 seniors, namely four year starting quarterback Frankie Griffin and four year all-purpose back Brady Callahan.
Many of those questions were answered in week one.
Junior Christian Collins at quarterback and senior Mason Sarra at running back gave the Blue Devils a new look. For the first time in five years and the first time for head coach Tim Shea, entering his fourth year at the helm, the Blue Devils started the season victorious clobbering East Catholic, 43-14.
The Blue Devils scored touchdowns on the first three possessions and went to the locker room at the half with a 31-0 lead with the help of a 29 yard field goal from Sarra.
“It feels great to come out here and perform the way we did,” said Sarra. “The line did good, the defense played well and we put some numbers on the board. The past few years we started slow (1-4, in 2017, 2-3 in 2018) so to come out here and get a win in the opener gives us some momentum.”
Plainville dismantled the Eagles with a defense that allowed just 25 offensive yards in the first half, thanks in part to three quarterback sacks from Ryan Barker, Dante Chambrello and Bhavya Patel that went for a loss of 31 yards.
How effective was the defense? Out of 24 first half offensive plays the Eagles had 10 plays where they were held to fewer than 2 yards. Three turnovers in the game stopped East Catholic from making a game of it with an interception by Dylan Hall and fumble recoveries from Alex Santini and Isaiah Diaz.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement, and I think we did,” said Collins. “I give our line all the credit for our win today. They went out and controlled the line of scrimmage and that’s what we need to do to be successful.”
The front five in the trenches of Barker, Ty Pales, Logan Caswell, Dante Chambrello and Adrien Marcos opened up the running lanes allowing Sarra (8 carries, 65 yards, 3 TDs), Collins (11 carries, 68 yards, 2 TDs) and Beau Lasher (6 carries, 90 yards, TD) to churn up the real estate moving the chains with 10 first downs.
Collins was 4 of 6 passing for 74 yards with Fabi Laoz (2 catches, 55 yards) and Hall (2 catches, 19 yards) hauling in passes but for as perfect as the game plan appeared to be there were some pot holes that the Blue Devils will need to avoid down the road.
A holding penalty took a touchdown off the board when Hall scampered 73 yards for a score and early in the second half when Collins barreled through several tacklers for a 27-yard score only to have it called back on another penalty.
Those are the kind of mistakes that can send a team into a ditch snatching a victory resulting in the agony of defeat. Along the way the Blue Devils did unleash a few other options in their offense when Esteban Torres scampered around the end for a 21 yard gain and late in the game with Dylan Brewer at quarterback he pitched one out to Cameron Lamothe for a 10 yard run and hooked up on a 15 yard pass play.
Linebacker Tanner Callahan made several key stops forcing East Catholic to punt twice to start the second half. Justin Emery chased down an Eagles back making a touchdown saving tackle before Diaz recovered a fumble.
“We did okay. We didn’t finish great and that’s something that we will address. There are still some things we need to clean up. We need to be held accountable from the first snap to the last,” said Shea, pointing to the two touchdowns taken off the board. “We can’t have that happen if we want to be successful. We did well on both sides of the ball at the line of scrimmage, but we do need to finish games a lot stronger.”
East Catholic entered the fourth quarter with just 29 offensive yards to show for their effort when quarterback Tim Wilson started to find 6-2, 220 pound tight end Jack Barry for four completions gaining 73 yards.
Chris Connelly scored a pair of touchdowns for the Eagles when East Catholic recovered an on-side kickoff to close the gap at 37-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
That elation on the Eagles sideline was quickly dashed when Lasher took a hand-off from Collins and brought it 55 yards to the house as the Blue Devils sidelines erupted in cheers putting the final touches on the 43-14 win.
Plainville will be on the road for the next two games at Northwest Catholic and then onto Jonathan Law of Milford before returning to Tinty Stadium to take on Bloomfield on Oct. 4.