PLAINVILLE - Last week was a record-breaking highlight for the Plainville High football team and its quarterback, senior Frank Griffin.
He broke the Plainville school record for most rushing yards in a game as he ran for 323 yards and five touchdowns. He also threw for 99 yards and another score as the Blue Devils beat East Catholic 49-15 to improve to 4-3 for the season.
But, Griffin said, “Last week’s game doesn’t really change anything about the next week. That week’s behind us. Tolland’s it now. We try to go 1-0 every week. That’s what coach Shea always tells us.”
Plainville will be looking to go 1-0 this week against visiting Tolland (3-4), a team that has multiple offensive weapons, but perhaps no real standouts. The Eagles have averaged 70.9 receiving yards and 156.1 rushing yards per game so far this season, with 19 total touchdowns.
Tolland has two quarterbacks with more than 25 passing attempts each: juniors Ali Diaby (26-for-60, 285 yards, 2 TDs) and Aidan Clark (7-for-28, 120 yards, 1 TD). Junior running back Ryan Carlson has also made 13 pass attempts, completing five for 90 yards.
Senior Collin Cook is the team’s leading rusher, with 66 carries for 339 yards and seven touchdowns. Carlson is not far behind, though, with 72 carries for 312 yards and four TDs. The team’s most versatile offensive skill player, Carlson also had nine receptions for 116 yards and all three of the Eagles’ three receiving touchdowns.
Diaby has also carried the ball 49 times, for 195 yards and two TDs, while junior Aidan D'Amato has 18 receptions for 249 yards.
“I think Tolland’s a very good team. They’re very similar to us,” Plainville head coach Tim Shea said. “They’re big - everybody’s bigger than us. Their linemen are big, they’ve got a lot of good skill kids. They like to run the ball. They’re good in space, and they fly around.”
Winning the battles in space will be key for Plainville this week.
“We’ve got to be able to defend in space, we’ve got to be able to tackle in space, and do the reverse on offense - make blocks in space, make plays in space,” Shea said.
“It should be a good game, an entertaining game,” he added.
The Blue Devils will be happy to be in front of their home crowd after playing three of their past four games on the road and getting their first road victory just last week.
“They’re a good team, got some good players, but so are we. It’ll be a great matchup, just like it was last year. It’s our house, we’re 3-0 at home, and it’ll be a good game,” Griffin said. “Playing at home always gives everybody some juice. Your house, your fans, crowd going crazy, everybody’s there.”
Griffin could break another record this week, as he’s just 127 yards shy of breaking the all-time passing record at Plainville High.
The key to his success, and that of the team, will be tied to its preparation, just as it was last week. East Catholic played a lot of man-on-man defense and the Blue Devils won those battles.
“We worked hard all last week on doing your job assignment-wise,” Shea said. “The kids rose up to it. That allowed Frank a lot of opportunities. … He made the most of those opportunities, too. He had a very good game running the ball.”
Shea added, “We were able to do some things up front that allowed Frank a lot of opportunities to run. The backs blocked really well, the wide receivers blocked really well, so it was a good all-around game for everybody.”
That all-around effort included a fine defensive performance, as well.
“The defense played really well, too,” Shea said. “We held a team that predominantly runs the ball in check, and that says a lot, too, that we were able to stop the run. … We stopped the run, we limited the mistakes and we were able to capitalize on it. That gave the offense good field position, and we took advantage of it.”
The Blue Devils should be equally well prepared heading into tonight’s home game against Tolland.
Paul Angilly can be reached at 860-973-1800, or email@example.com