PLAINVILLE - Last week was just about as bad of an opening night as any high school football team would ever hope to endure.
Losing 53-0 on the road to a very talented Bloomfield squad wasn’t the worst of it. Finding out the previous day that senior third-year starting quarterback Frank Griffin would miss the game, and another two to three weeks yet to come, with a case of mononucleosis was certainly bad. But then losing a fellow senior all-conference player in dynamic receiver/running back and backup QB Brady Callahan to a broken ankle on the ninth play of the game was a killer blow. He’ll be out at least another four weeks.
Add in that senior WR/DB Marcos Gutierrez was also unable to play due to an ankle injury, and the Blue Devils were left with seven sophomores in the game on offense and five on defense, including fill-in sophomore quarterback Dylan Hall.
“It is what it is,” Plainville coach Tim Shea lamented.
“[Hall] did what we asked of him. He tried,” Shea added, although he added that Hall is not expected to be back under center as Plainville hosts Bulkeley/Weaver/HMTCA in its home opener tonight at 6:30.
In fact, Shea didn’t want to say who might serve as the quarterback in tonight’s game.
“We’re trying to still sort some things out,” he said. “This is your classic, ‘next guy up, next guy in’ [situation]. That’s exactly how we’re approaching it. We’re not allowing anyone to sulk [or] pout. It’s football.”
He added, “We’ve been on them. We’re coaching them up real hard, and we’ll be ready to play Friday night.”
Like Plainville, Bulkeley was shut out in its season opener last weekend, losing 41-0 to Berlin on Saturday afternoon. It’s a team that Plainville beat 27-14 last year, yet - especially given their own opening game troubles - it’s not a team the Blue Devils will take lightly.
“We know Bulkeley’s going to be hungry,” Shea said. “Coach [Teriko] Roberts is doing a great job up there. He’s a very good coach, a guy I respect a lot, and they’ll be ready, we’ll be ready. Somebody’s leaving with a win Friday night and we’re working hard, hoping it’s us.”
Despite the lopsided final score, there were some positives to take away from Plainville’s opener at Bloomfield, most notably the fact that the Blue Devils were within a touchdown of the lead until well into the second quarter.
“The game was close for a while,” Shea said. “We didn’t get much going on offense. You keep giving the other team the ball that close [on turnovers and failing to get first downs], you’re going to start to break.”
The plan for this week is as simple as it usually is for Plainville.
“We need to establish some groove, some flow on offense. We’ve need to be able to move the ball and we’ve got to stop people,” Shea said, echoing the team’s usual philosophy. “We have to protect the ball and move the ball, and defensively, we have to stop people. If you can do those couple of things, your chances of being successful go up a lot.”
While Plainville has some holes to fill over the next several weeks, one player who will be leaned upon for sure is talented sophomore WR/DB Christian Collin, who in a rare instance under Shea saw significant playing time as a freshman last year.
“We’re going to expect a lot more of Christian Collin now,” Shea said. “He’s going to be in the plans a lot more than he was before, but it’ll be a team effort. We need everybody to step up. … It isn’t just a one-guy deal, it’s a team deal.”
Keeping a positive attitude will be a focus tonight and in the weeks to come, especially after the Blue Devils have at times over the past couple of years not played up to their ability in games following lopsided losses.
“We need everybody to be on that same page, that frame of mind [that] we’ll be successful, and that’s what we’re working toward now,” Shea said.
“This Friday we have another chance to go out, this time at home, and try to get a victory,” he added.
Paul Angilly can be reached at 860-973-1800 or firstname.lastname@example.org