PROUD OF THIS LEGACY — Chris Phinney (far left) and Tyler Studd shake hands with Coach John Sopko. Both local players were recently selected to play in an area all star football game. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — Chris Phinney and Tyler Studd began playing Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football together, in 2010. As sophomores, the two players were pulled up to varsity, to start on offense and defense.
After missing a few games, due to an ankle injury, as a sophomore, Phinney obtained starting roles as middle linebacker and fullback.
Studd started on the offensive line and at middle linebacker, as well. Three years later, both players have now been selected to play in the 38th annual Lions All Star High School Football Classic, open to selected Western New York football players. Forty athletes, from all over Section VI, were chosen, to play in the game.
Troy Studd, a 2012 S-GI graduate, played in last year’s event.
“This year, to have two players, is very impressive,” Coach John Sopko said. “It could be a sign of progress, but also a sign of their worthiness. They’re two players that I have no question or doubt that they deserve the recognition and the opportunity.”
Tyler Studd was an All-WNY selection and finalist for the Trench Trophy, which is awarded to the highest-ranking lineman in Western New York. He led Section VI with 13 sacks. His resume included being named a Class B South first team all star.
“[He’s] intense. He brings intensity to the field,” Sopko said. “Football requires a lot of intensity. The game is unique, [in] that you huddle and then play a play in 4 – 7 seconds. You need those 4 – 7 seconds to be intense and Tyler clearly brought that.”
Studd was named the Class B South co-defensive most valuable player, along with Phinney, who led the team in tackles, the last two years.
As a senior, Phinney collected 75 tackles and 3 sacks. During the Griffins’ regular season finale, against Olean, the athlete intercepted a pass and returned it 85 yards, to break the school record for the longest interception return.
Whether Phinney would play middle linebacker or fullback, during the all star game, had not been decided, as of press time.
As a fullback, the athlete compiled 581 rushing yards and scored 4 touchdowns.
“Chris fit in all regards, fullback. He has the personality, he has the mentality [and] he has a physical ability, to perform as a fullback,” Sopko said. “You image a No. 44 and the number presents something. Simply stated, it requires a player to bring a toughness [and] a seriousness, both mentally and physically.”
Phinney received the Pop Warner Trophy, which is given to the top football player in Springville, who has exhibited determination and a dedication to training and competition.
The all star game will be played at Orchard Park High School on July 31.
“It’s a great example of what kind of football players you can be, in Springville,” Sopko said.
“The priority is not to make them all stars. The priority is not to have them go on to play, in college. That’s the enhanced ‘win-win’ of our achievements. It’s that other people acknowledge their abilities and that other people value them as people, as students [and] as players, so they have the opportunity to play, in college.”
Studd said that he has not yet decided where he will attend college, but added that he is interested in Division II power the University of Mount Union.
Phinney said that he plans to attend Alfred State College.