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Springville’s Chris Phinney takes home defensive MVP, during high school classic all-star football game

TAKE HIM DOWN — Springville’s Chris Phinney takes down a north team player in one of his 14 tackles. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — Tyler Studd and Chris Phinney played one last high school football game on July 27, during the 38th annual Kensington Lions Club/Ad Pro High School Football Classic, held at Orchard Park High School. The all-state players were in the starting lineup on the south team, that included quarterback Robert Morris, University-bound Andy Smigiera of West Seneca East and Connolly Cup winner Corey Barczykowski of Alden.

Phinney anchored the south defense, leading the team with 14 tackles, as the south prevailed 37 – 21. Phinney’s performance earned him Defensive MVP.

“First off, it’s just awesome and unbelievable that I won the award,” Phinney said. “It was a completely different experience, coming here with all of the passing, and there’s not much running. Down in the B-South, all we do is run, run, run, and I have to worry about stopping the run. But when you’re a football player, you have to adjust to different environments.”

STARRING LINEUP — Springville’s Tyler Studd (left) and Chris Phinney (right) line up next to each other, during the game.

Phinney made tackles early and often, for the south team. Paul Peck, who spent time at Channel 4 as a sports anchor and currently is the play-by-play voice for the University at Buffalo football program, was up in the press box at Orchard Park, as the public address announcer. A number of Springville fans were in attendance at the game and the estimated 3,000 fans heard Peck call Phinney’s name often.

“The kid is just tough as nails,” said Coach Rich Bridenbaker, who coached the linebackers, for the south team. “He flies around; he a ‘yes sir’, ‘no sir’ guy. Chris listens and just does everything that you ask. He does it with great enthusiasm and passion; just a tough kid.”

Phinney said that he enjoyed the experience of playing one last football game with a number of football players from across Western New York.

THE AWARD GOES TO — Chris Phinney accepts his Defensive MVP award, after the game. He made 14 tackles, on the day.

“They’re a riot. They all have different personalities, Phinney said, about the game.

“There is such a mix of kids from the city and to us country boys from Springville and Cassadaga Valley, it was just a riot. It was just a great experience, to get to know all these guys and hang out with them.”

Tyler Studd, who was an All-Western New York selection in the fall, was one of 14 All-WNY honorees that played in the game. Studd started at defensive end and saw time at defensive tackle, as well. Studd shifted to d-tackle, in the second half, in attempt to slow down the north team that scored 21 points, in the first half. The plan worked, as the south shut out the north squad, in the second-half.

“He did what we were hoping he would do,” Bridenbaker said, of Studd. He played our system; because of him doing his job and playing his role, in the defense. That’s why we had such a great second half.”

Studd was credited with a quarterback sack in the game, something he did often at Springville. Studd led Section VI, as a senior, with 13 sacks.

“It was a good victory; We played hard,” Studd said. “Our defense got a few great stops, in the second half. Our corners tighten it up, in the second half, and so did our safeties. We got a takeaway too, so that’s what helped stop them and shut them out, in the second half. We knew if we put up some points, we’d be alright.”

To start off the game, the north’s Khalil Sommerville of Bennett, a defensive lineman, blocked a punt and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, while the north jumped out to a 7 – 0 start, after the extra point.

Smigiera would respond with a five-yard touchdown strike to Stephen Johnson of McKinley, to knot it up. The north answered when Trent Ferguson of Williamsville South took off up the middle, for a nine-yard touchdown run, to take a 14 – 7 lead. The first quarter expired with the north holding a one-touchdown lead over the south.

The second quarter was a back and forth 15 minutes, with both teams exchanging touchdowns. Smigiera avoided a sack and hooked up with West Seneca East teammate Scotty Ackerman, in the corner of the end zone, for a 27-yard touchdown connection that brought the game even, to open to second quarter scoring.

North’s Lonnie Taylor, of Medina, hauled in a 14-yard pass from Mike Torrillo of Sweet Home to take a 21 – 14 lead back. The south caught a break when a north screen pass resulted in a safety that brought them within 6 points of the north. After the free punt, Smigiera engineered a two-minute drill that resulted in Barczykowski crossing the goal line, with one second left, in the half. Barczykowski, the south’s starting running back, hauled in the 20-yard touchdown catch over the middle.

The south would roll from there; shutting out the north in the second half. That team would score twice in the final 30 minutes of the game. Alex Horvatits of St. Mary’s and Johnson scored off touchdown receptions from Smigiera.

Johnson finished with nine grabs for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. Shaq Brooks of Lackawanna had seven catches for 116 yards.

Smigiera led the south team on offense, throwing for 343 yards and 5 touchdowns, both classic records. Smigiera’s record-breaking performance earned him the Offensive MVP award. Smigiera kept a number of plays alive, using his speed to buy some extra time, outside of the pocket. Smigiera was the Section VI 100- and 200-meter champion on the track, this past spring. He kept a number of south receivers involved, completing 22 of 37 passes on the night. Springville-Griffith Institute Head Varsity Football Coach John Sopko said he was very proud to have two of his former players part of the historic, all-star game.

“I’m very proud to have a Springville presence in the north vs. south all-star game again,” said Studd and Phinney’s high school coach.

“I’m extremely proud to have two players [in the game]. I’m particularly impressed by both Tyler and Chris, starting on defense for the south team, because of the time and effort we put in to rebuilding the defense. It’s a nice feather in the cap of a coaching career, to have two players start in an all star game.”

The 2013 high school football season begins on Aug. 19. The Journal will be previewing the upcoming season, in the next few weeks.


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