The term “rebuilding” is clearly the best way to describe the Plainville High football team as it enters the 2017 season, yet “hopeful” is certainly in the mix.
Perhaps the best news for the Blue Devils is that after a disastrous 2016 campaign that saw them go 0-10, scoring a mere 57 points all season, there is truly nowhere to go but up.
“I’m just looking to move forward. Take no steps back, all steps forward. Stay positive, and hopefully do a little bit better than last year,” said senior Ben Root, a returning all-conference wide receiver and defensive back.
Plainville head coach Tim Shea returns for his second year with the team having lost relatively few players from last year’s squad. Though new to Plainville last year, Shea has enjoyed success in the past, leading Woodland Regional to a 44-25 mark and a trip to a state championship game during his six seasons as head coach there.
He was hired relatively late last year, so this fall will mark his first time having a whole year to work with the Blue Devils.
“We had a very good offseason,” he said. “We got to implement a pretty good weight program.”
The coaching staff has grown from just four last year to 11 this year, he added.
“Getting more coaches around, I can take on some different roles,” Shea said. “Instead of always being the tactician, I can more or less oversee the entire program now.”
Plainville returns all but two of its skill position players, but lost five starting seniors from its offensive line to graduation. With five new linemen, three of which played tight end or running back last year, that is likely to be a key area of concern.
“There’s some definite growing pains as we’re going through, but the good news is they’re all underclassmen, so they’re going to grow into the position,” Shea said.
Among the returnees are starting quarterback Frank Griffin - who was a bright spot for the Blue Devils as a sophomore - and key receivers including seniors Jailen Lindsey, Cody Marquis and Root, along with junior Brady Callahan, an all-conference pick last year.
“I have lot of confidence in our receivers this year,” Griffin said. “They’ve been doing great in the preseason. And I’ve been with most of these guys for pretty much all my life, from Pop Warner up to here, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in them. I feel very comfortable throwing the ball to them.”
Losing took its toll on the team last year, with several of the returning players hinting at some internal strife hitting the players as they struggled for a victory that never came. That should be well behind the team this year, they insist, yet agree getting a victory as soon as possible is a key goal.
“I’m looking forward to us just being a family,” Griffin said. “Last year, we had a lot of rough times and people didn’t stay together and got down on each other. But hopefully we can change that.”
“The biggest hurdle is not getting down on each other this year,” Callahan said. “If we’re losing early in the first quarter, we can’t get down. We’ve still have three quarters left to play. We’ve got to keep positive the whole time and keep fighting.”
Senior offensive lineman and linebacker Nick Cianchetti said getting started will be a key hurdle to clear.
“Everyone’s got to stick together. We’re going to have to play four quarters tough, come off strong and fight through them,” he said.
“Most importantly, I’m looking to get our first win. Get the ball moving,” he added. “We’re going to need everyone to step up and play their best. We’re low on numbers, but everyone’s just got to grow up.”
Everyone also agreed the team will definitely be better this year.
“Things are moving along. By no means are we there yet, but it’s a start in the right direction,” Shea said. “There’s a long way to go. The challenges are still there.”
“That first win is going to be the biggest hurdle,” Marquis said. “I’m looking for all the young kids to really step up, and all the kids that were here last year to make sure that last year doesn’t happen [again].”
Shea said, “You gotta be able to run the ball and you gotta be able to stop people. If you do that, you’re usually on the winning side a lot more often than you’re not.”
As much as the Blue Devils want to get that first win, for now the focus is on hard work.
“Our bigger goal is we want to put a good product on the field,” Shea said. “We want people to know that if they come and watch us, we’re going to play hard, we’re going to play disciplined, fast football. And with that, hopefully some success comes.”