By KEN MORSE
Not all endings have the outcome one could hope for.
The Plainville football team had the opportunity it sought with time running out in its annual Thanksgiving matchup with Farmington.
Trailing 18-17 with 5:57 to play, the Blue Devils started a drive at their own 35 yard line— needing to get close enough for kicker Mason Sarra to have a chance to win the game with a field goal.
Brendan Quilter (10 carries for 54 yards) burst through a seam in the line for a 17 yard pickup. Quarterback Frankie Griffin (15 carries for 62 yards, two touchdowns) pushed ahead for a yard converting a fourth down.
Set up on the Farmington 34 yard line with 3:34 to go, Griffin (7 of 13 passing for 97 yards) threw a pass between two receivers that was picked off by Zihare Greaves and the ending drew nearer.
The Indians managed to run out the clock securing its fourth straight win in the Thanksgiving Day Classic that was moved up to Wednesday night due to the predicted cold weather on Thursday.
For the record setting Blue Devils quarterback, it would be the last pass of his high school career and he leaves Plainville as the all-time passing leader at 3,823 yards and the single game rushing record of 323 yards.
The ending was bitter for a 6-4 Plainville football team that had racked up four straight wins for the second year in a row heading into the Thanksgiving Day showdown for the Olde Canal Cup and only the fourth team to have accomplished a four game winning streak in the last 20 years.
“It was a great way to start the game,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea. “But it’s Thanksgiving, it’s a big game and you have to play the full 48 minutes. I’m proud of my guys they fought till the end and from where we started this season to where we ended up, I’m proud of them for sticking together.”
Plainville began the game as they draw it up in practice when Griffin hit Brady Callahan with an over the shoulder grab down the sidelines that covered 57 yards on the Blue Devils first offensive play.
With a first and goal at the Farmington eight yard line, three straight running plays generated just six yards and Sarra came on to boot a 20 yard field goal. The missed touchdown opportunity would loom large as the game wore on.
The Indians fumbled the ball away after a 13 yard pass play with Quilter securing possession for the Blue Devils. Passes to Dom Chambrello, Dylan Hall, and Christian Collin moved the ball within first and goal territory before Griffin took it in from a yard out to put Plainville out in front 10-0 with 4:54 to go in the first quarter.
Farmington finally was able to dig in and gain some traction when Aidan Sposato got away from coverage on a kick off and broke it up field for a 45 yard return. The Plainville defense stiffened only to have Jacob Conrad (21 of 33, 181 yards) convert a fourth and five pass to set up a first and goal.
The Indians put points on the board on three straight series on a Michael Gregory nine-yard touchdown reception, a safety when a high snap on a Plainville punt went out of the end zone, and then a 19-yard field goal by Conrad to give the Tribe a 12-10 lead with 7:58 left in the first half.
“You can’t go back and second guess whatever happens,” said Shea. “They could say the same thing. It’s sports, that’s football and plays are made on both sides of the ball.”
The Blue Devils defense came away with two interceptions to no avail. One was called out of bounds in the end zone prior to the go-head field goal and the second came late in the third quarter that was waved off by a penalty.
Alex Hernandez recovered a muffed punt to give Plainville a new set of downs and Griffin took it into the end zone from 12 yards out with 4:54 left in the third quarter to put the Blue Devils back out in front 17-12.
Conrad completed a back breaker converting a fourth down and 35 yards to go pass to Greaves setting up a first and goal at the Plainville three yard line. Two plays later Greaves latched onto a touchdown pass giving Farmington the lead back at 18-17 with 11:17 to play in the game.
Plainville drove down the field from their own 35 yard line to the Indians 34 yard line with 3:34 remaining on the clock. Greaves stepped in between two Blue Devils receivers to make an interception and Farmington went on to run out the clock.
“We were moving the ball at the end trying to get into field goal range for Mason (Sarra),” said Shea. “We went for a pass we thought we had something and we didn’t. Out of 160 plays in a game it’s a bang, bang play and these things happen, it’s football.”
“It was a great Thanksgiving game. It was good to be a part of it I just wish we were on the other side of it. Hats off to Farmington. But what our seniors have accomplished over the last few years have given us a solid foundation to work with.”
It was a tough way to end the season and their high school career for the 13 seniors who put on their blue and whites for the final time. Griffin, Callahan, Quilter and Hernandez along with Sam Lestini, Jason Mills, Marcos Gutierrez, Jared Riback, Rob Politis, Dom Pedrolini, Alec Karal, Mike McGinley and Kanyon Adams played instrumental roles in building a solid foundation over the last four years.
They will be tough to replace next season but in the process coach Shea and his staff have assembled a competitive group of young talent that will come back with the purpose of keeping the Blue Devils headed in the right direction going from 0-10, to 5-5 to 6-4.