AN ELITE GROUP — Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football Head Coach John Sopko (fourth from left) was named the Class B South coach of the year. He is pictured, along with other Western New York coaches of the year, at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where he received his award.
SPRINGVILLE — Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football Head Coach John Sopko led his team to a 5 – 5 record in 2012. The varsity Griffins won the Class B South division title and also played at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time since 1997.
The football season is now over, but Sopko’s accomplishments with his team have been recognized. The coach was named Class B South coach of the year, after his Griffs won the Class B South championship and played in the Class B title game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Sopko was also named coach of the year by Football Weekly, a local newspaper that covers WNY high school football. The designation is determined by a vote that included all 91 coaches in WNY. Sopko received the most votes.
“To be voted by the other 91 coaches in WNY is special,” he said. “To think of some of the great coaches I’ve coached against, this year, and to know that they recognize what we’re doing, is important for our program. Any positive attention is great for Springville football and the community.”
In October, Sopko was the recipient of the Buffalo Bill’s National Guard WNY High School Coach of the Week Award. The designation came after S-GI defeated Pioneer, on Sept. 28. Pioneer came into the game undefeated, but the Griffs handed the opposition its first loss.
The win was also the start of what would be a five-game winning streak, for S-GI. This stretch propelled Springville to the Class B title game.
During the Buffalo Bills game held on Sunday, Dec. 9, Sopko was invited onto the field to receive his recognition. During the game, each coach that received the award, during the season, was recognized.
Sopko said that the event was a “cool experience, to say the least. It was an honor being on the field, with the other coaches, and an interesting experience,” he added. “To be that close to NFL players on the field was amazing. We were treated with true class and you see things from a different perspective when you’re that close. My thanks goes out to the Buffalo Bills and their hard work for making all of it possible.”
Despite starting the season 0 – 4, the Griffs finished the season with a 5 – 5 record. Sopko gave the credit to his players. “It was a special group of kids we had this year,” he said. “[They were] some of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. They earned everything they got this season and I’m proud of every single player.”