Andy Smigiera’s last appearance as a high school quarterback was one for the record books.
The West Seneca East graduate, who will likely play safety at Robert Morris University, broke two passing marks while leading the South to a 37-21 victory over the North at Wednesday’s Kensington Lions Club/Ad Pro High School Football Classic. The game was played before an estimated 3,000 on a perfect night for football at Orchard Park High School.
Smigiera threw five touchdown passes, breaking the record of three that had been shared by Chris Metz of Timon in 1973 and Ty Seifert of Lake Shore in 1996. In playing the whole game, he was 22 of 37 for a record 343 yards. The previous record for most passing yards in a game was 250 set in 1995 by Erik Rusin of Amherst.
Smigiera used the speed that helped him win the Section VI track title in the 100 meters to perfection as he was able to roll out and find a variety of receivers on the run for long gains. “When the pocket breaks down and there’s a defender behind me, I always know I can get out of it with my speed, and that adds confidence to my game,” said Smigiera.
Stephen Johnson of McKinley was on the receiving end of nine of Smigiera’s tight passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. The two looked like they had been working together for years.
“Oh my God, he’s unbelievable,” Smigiera said of Johnson. “He told me before the game, ‘if I’m one-on-one just throw it up.’ And I’m like, ‘all right,’ and then I actually did it and he went over the dude.”
Smigiera was the no-brainer for the South MVP while his counterpart, quarterback Mike Torrillo of Sweet Home, was the North MVP.
The first half was a shootout with the teams trading touchdowns, but in the second half the South defense kept the North off the board. “We didn’t give them many defensive stops in the beginning of the half, and we couldn’t get momentum going on offense,” said North head coach Kraig Kurzanski of Williamsville South. “When you rotate players in like that, if you don’t have momentum going for you, it’s tough to gain momentum. They had one quarterback over there and his momentum was always going. But I’m proud of our guys, they gave us two great weeks.”
The South, winner of three of the last four games, took a 22-16 series lead.
It didn’t take long for the first points of the game to be scored. South, lining up in a short punt formation on fourth down, had the kick blocked by Khalil Sommerville of Bennett, who picked the ball off the turf and ran it 20 yards for the score.
North’s 7-0 lead didn’t last long. The South put together an 11-play, 73-yard drive ending in Johnson’s 5-yard TD catch from Smigiera. North broke the 7-7 tie the next time it touched the ball when QB Trent Ferguson of Williamsville South ran up the middle for a 9-yard score and a 14-7 advantage after the first quarter.
The second quarter was just as entertaining. South tied the game at 14-14 when Smigiera connected with his East teammate, Scott Ackerman, for a 27-yard strike. North went up, 21-14, when Lonnie Taylor of Medina caught a 14-yard pass from Torrillo. A safety brought South within, 21-16. South would take a 23-21 lead into the locker room, scoring with 1 second left when Corey Barczykowski of Alden caught a 20-yard pass from Smigiera.
The South scored the last 16 points of the game. The only scoring in the second half came on a pair of TD tosses by Smigiera, one to Alex Horvatis of St. Mary’s and the second to Johnson for his second visit into the end zone. Tom Gioia Jr. of Timon-St. Jude was perfect on five extra point kicks.
The South team had only two weeks together, but Smigiera said it was enough time to build a trust. “As all-stars we only played together for two weeks and you don’t really develop that brotherhood. You don’t think you do, but we did over a two-week period and we struck together,” he said.
The Lions dedicated the game to the memory of the late Tucker Reddington, the legendary St. Joe’s coach who died July 26, 2012. Several members of Reddington’s family were recognized in a pregame ceremony.