Three S-GI football players awarded Western New York trophies
“[The banquet] can provide recognition to student athletes, for a job well done,” said Dick Gallagher of Channel 2, who put the event together.
Studd led all of WNY in sacks, with 13. Studd was also selected for All-WNY First Team and was a finalist for the Trench Trophy.
“He brings intensity to the field,” said Coach, John Sopko. “Football requires a lot of intensity. The game is unique, in that you huddle and then play a play that last just 4 – 7 seconds. You need those 4 – 7 seconds to be intense and Tyler clearly brought that.”
Studd came to Springville his sophomore year, along with his brother Troy, in the spring of 2010, from West Valley.
“It’s a compliment to our district that he chose to come here and be part of our sports and our academic programs,” Sopko said.
Chris Phinney was the other defensive co-MVP, after leading the Griffs in tackles, the last two years. Accumulating 75 tackles and three sacks, this season, while he led the Griffin defense to a top five ranking in Class B. In a game against Olean, Phinney returned an interception 85 yards and, in the process, broke a 38-year-old school record for the longest interception return. Along with his defensive persona, he ran for 585 yards on offense and scored 3 touchdowns.
“You play the hand that you’re dealt, and sometimes the cards that your’re given to play with are not to your making,” added Sopko. “Given the players that we had, my first year, we made the decision, for our offense and defense, to fit to our players. You have to have a system. You have to have a way of doing things. Chris fit, in all regards. He has the personality. He has the mentality. He has a physical ability to perform as a fullback,” said Sopko. “You imagine No. 44 and the number presents something. Simply stated, it requires a player to bring a toughness, a seriousness both mentally and physically.”
Phinney received the Pop Warner Trophy, which is given to the top football player. The trophy represents determination and dedication to training and competition.
“It’s a good topic for benches: was he the heart and soul, or brains of the team? He was certainty a multitude of those,” Sopko said. “In the last games [of his junior year], he was just emerging and emerging, and the next year, he gave us the indication that he was going to continue to get better, this past season, and he did. He’s now created a high level watermark, for everyone that comes up behind him.”
Billy Dickinson was named Class B offensive MVP, along with two others from different schools. Dickinson led the team in rushing, with 612 yards, and scored 12 combined touchdowns. He was a captain and made the All-WNY All-Academic Team, as he carries a 96 grade point average. According to Sopko, Dickinson is a prototypical option quarterback, as he complements talent with smarts.
“An option quarterback needs to have ice in his veins,” said Sopko. “He needs to be able to make decisions in a split second, while many bodies are in motion. Our offensive system allows the quarterback latitude to be audible and call plays, at times.”
Dickinson broke his ankle during his sophomore year and missed the whole season. His junior year, he was the backup quarterback to Matt Wolcott, while playing safety and end. His senior year, he got the “keys to the car,” according to Dickinson.
“Bill had shown, in his junior year, what I needed to see: that he was going to be able to step into the quarterback role. I think, realistically, there was some concern about rust and game experience, at quarterback. I was confident that, with time, that rust would break free. I think, anybody who looks at the season, can see the progression, that he got better, as the season went on,” Sopko said.
Dickinson followed All-League First Team Quarterback Matt Wolcott, who graduated last year. Dickinson scored the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Griffins’ Sectional semi-final game against Cheektowaga.
“Billy has pushed the watermark even higher for quarterbacks, in the program. Billy, like Matt, ‘til I’m in the ground, will be part of many, very fond memories. I’m very sentimental towards both of them, and very proud of both of them,” Sopko noted.
The three players and their respective families were invited to the banquet to receive their awards, along with a lunch. Sopko, Varsity Assistant Coach Rob Valenti, junior varsity coaches Greg Hodges and Bill Dickinson were also in attendance.
Guests included Keith McShea of the Buffalo News, John Murphy and Dick Gallagher. According to Sopko, this was the first time in “a long time” that three players from Springville-Griffith Institute were presented with these awards.
“My honest reaction is that, if that you can’t see the positive and the confirmation of what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do, the progress and success we’ve made, over three years, you’re fooling yourself or you have some issue or issues preventing you from acknowledging the truth,” Sopko explained.
“It is a tremendous complement to the varsity, to the football program as a whole, to our athletics department, to our school and to our community. It wasn’t lost on me. It may have taken a moment for me to believe and account with my eyes the facts, but it’s a tremendous reflection of the work our players have done [during] the last four years.”