Some Friday night dinners during the fall with his offensive line once again proved fruitful for Lockport running back Randy Smith.
Smith, who led the Lions to the Class A title and their second straight Buffalo News Poll title, Saturday was named the winner of the William R. Connolly Memorial Cup as Western New York's outstanding high school football player. The announcement was made at a press conference at Salfranco's Restaurant in Hamburg.
Earlier in the day, the 5-foot-8, 182-pound Smith was named The News Player of the Year and was a first-team All-WNY choice for the second straight season.
Smith was quick to credit his success to his parents and his coach, Bob Casler, all of whom were in attendance for the Connolly Cup presentation. But he saved a special salute to his lineman -- center Tom DiMillo, guards Justin Kowka, Chris Harper and Pat Graham, tackles Pat Mullen, Tony Bogar and Jeremy O'Day and tight end Stan Madden.
"We were all close. We all grew up together," said Smith. "We went to dinner every Friday night. We never talked about Rich or winning awards. It was just discussion of that Saturday's game and what we needed to do to win.
"They worked just as hard for this. We had a great season and they were a big part of it."
Smith rushed for 1,189 yards this season to finish his career with 3,425 -- third on the all-time WNY list. It was the second year in a row he was a finalist for the Connolly Cup, presented annually by the Riverside Athletic Club.
This year's other finalists were: Salamanca's T.J. Brol, Albion's Ray Callicutt, Williamsville South's Chris Irving, North Tonawanda's Ed Mahoney, Lackawanna's Mike Mamula, Clarence's Andy McKenzie, Hinsdale's Steve Noll, Jamestown's Kevin Senear, and St. Joe's Chris Sommer.
Corning Cup Classic: La Salle upset Syracuse Nottingham, 69-55, in the championship game at Albany High School. Again, it was point guard Modie Cox who led the Explorers to their second straight win in the tournament.
Cox scored 20 points, had eight reobudns, seven steals and eight assists and took MVP honors as he shut down his Nottingham couterpart, Craig Caldwell, who had only 11 points. Scotty Rose had 18 rebounds for the Explorers.
Newfane Tip-Off Tourney: Aaron Kapinski scored 16 points while Roger Giles had 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in sparking Holland's 83-59 victory over Newfane in the championship game. Mike Murray had 18 for Newfane.
Iroquois Tournament: Buffalo Arts edged Kenmore East, 67-63, in the championship game. James Boone scored 24 points and added 12 assists and nine rebounds. Michael Hueitt had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Marco McCarley had 16 points for the Cavaliers (2-0). Mike O'Bryan had 27 points and Gary Welgoss 15 for the Bulldogs (1-1).
Quincey Morris hit on six three-point field goals and scored 30 of his 40 points in the second half but Cleveland Hill still lost to Iroquois, 68-57, in the consolation game. Greg Martin had 18 and Mike Donovan 17 for the Chiefs (1-1).
JFK Tournament: Jason Cwiklinski, who was voted offensive MVP, scored 19 points to lead John F. Kennedy to a 62-47 victory over St. Mary's of Lancaster in the title game. Jeff Wheeler had 11 points for the Bears (2-0). Jason Swiatek had 17 and Tim Szablewski 11 for St. Mary's (1-1). . . . Barker took third place with a 64-57 win over Roy-Hart. Jim Bachman scored 21 for Barker (1-2). Roy-Hart is 0-2.