Hello from Ilio DiPaolo's in Blasdell for the 40th annual presentation of the Connolly Cup, awarded by the Riverside Athletic Club to the most outstanding high school football player in Western New York.
I'll update the winner here as soon as possible.
The 10 finalists are: Orchard Park senior Okoya Anderson, Kenmore West senior Martin Bailey, Jamestown senior Spencer DeCinque, Williamsville South junior Trent Ferguson, Bennett senior Javon Fogan, Maple Grove senior Alex Grace, Orchard Park senior Ben Johnson, Sweet Home senior Jordan Johnson, St. Joe's senior Chad Kelly and St. Francis senior Akeel Lynch.
The winner will be announced shortly. It was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. but it will be a little later (it's now 2:11).
It's a special banquet this year as past winners of the award have been invited for the 40th annual presentation. The DiPaolo's banquet room is much larger than it has had to be this year to account for all the great football players.
It will be quite a scene to see the past winners introduced before this year's award is presented.
2:28 p.m. The presentation has begun. Introductions of the finalists will be made, then the winner will be announced Academy Awards-style.
2:38 p.m. As a member of the News sports department, I would like to thank the Connolly Cup committee and chairman John Lewis for honoring the late Allen Wilson with a moment of silence. It was just moments ago that we learned that Allen had passed away from leukemia. To say we are heartbroken is an extreme understatement.
2:41 p.m. The past winners are now being introduced.
Past winners have come into town from as far away as Ohio and Massachusetts.
Here today are: Jim Rath (1976, Frontier; he played at Edinboro and Canisius and lives in Lake View); Frank Rossi Jr. (1977, Baker Victory; who played at Colgate and went from banking to an impressive acting career); Brian Ross (1978, Niagara-Wheatfield; he played at Cornell and lives in Boston, Mass.); Tony Baker (1980, Springville; he played at Cornell and came in from his home in New Hampshire); Trevor Sajdak (1987, Cleveland Hill, who played at Columbia, is a professional body builder and lives in Ohio); Ray Braxton (1986, Lackawanna; he won a national championship at Bakersfield Junior Collegeand still lives in Lackawanna); Randy Smith (1990, Lockport; he played at Youngstown State and in the Canadian Football League and lives in Ohio); Frank Pavicich (1997, Niagara-Wheatfield); Joe West (1999, Lackawanna; he played at American International); Zak Kedron (2004, St. Francis); Capone Smith (2008, Lackawanna; who played for the Cisco Wranglers in Texas and is back in Western New York); Joe Licata (2010, Williamsville South; he plays at the University at Buffalo).
3:09 p.m. Lengthy introduction of the alumni has concluded -- great names, great stories.
This year's finalists being introduced now.
Akeel Lynch was not able to attend due to a recruiting trip for Boston College.
3:16 p.m. The winner of this year's Connolly Cup is ...
Chad Kelly of St. Joe's.
Speech and interviews now.
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I'll discuss the Connolly Cup choice and our All-Western New York issue in our weekly live video chat at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
taggedFootball | High school football