By Scott Kindberg
BLASDELL - The subject of the Connolly Cup - presented annually by the Riverside Athletic Club to the outstanding high school football player in Western New York - was never discussed this fall during the Jamestown Red Raiders' magical run to their Section 6 Class AA championship.
Jamestown High School senior quarterback Jake Sisson holds the Connolly Cup after receiving the award, which honors Western New York’s most outstanding football player, at Ilio DiPaolo’s in Blasdell on Saturday.
P-J photos by Scott Kindberg
Above, Connolly Cup winner Jake Sisson, holding trophy, is pictured with the Jamestown High School football coaching staff. From left are Dave Munella, Ryan Calkins, head coach Tom Langworthy, Richie Joly and John O’Brien. At left, Sisson hugs Langworthy after being announced as the winner.
"We always talk about team stuff," Coach Tom Langworthy said. "Our players know about state titles and sectional titles. I don't think we've talked much about Connolly Cup winners.
"But we'll be talking about Jake Sisson."
The senior quarterback capped a record-breaking season on Saturday when he was named the WNY Player of the Year by The Buffalo News in the morning and was the recipient of the 42nd annual Connolly Cup by mid-afternoon. He is the fourth Red Raider to earn the Connolly Cup, joining Berto Amoroso (1982), David Hinson (1994) and Aaron Leeper (2000) in that exclusive club.
"When something like this comes around, I'm very grateful," Sisson said after the awards banquet at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant, "but without the team it would never have happened."
See CONNOLLY?CUP, Page C4
From Page C1
What happened, though, was remarkable.
Not only did the Red Raiders claim their first sectional title since 2000, but they did so in video game-like offensive outbursts.
And it was Sisson, the son of George and Kim Sisson, who engineered it all.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder completed 178-of-275 passes (64.7 completion percentage) for a WNY-record 3,184 yards and 33 touchdowns. Only Greg Paulus of Syracuse's Christian Brothers Academy (3,677 in 2004) had more passing yards in state history. Sisson's 508-yard aerial display in a Week Two shootout at Kenmore West broke another WNY record set by Williamsville South's Joe Licata in 2009 and it is tied for the fourth best in state history. On the ground, Sisson had a team-high 732 yards and 24 touchdowns. Remarkably, of the 83 touchdowns Jamestown scored this season, Sisson accounted for 57 of them.
"Jake's a worthy recipient of the (Connolly Cup)," Langworthy said. "He had a marvelous season on the field. The statistics are stand alone in regard to all the football players in Western New York. ... There are so many great athletes here, but I think the award went to the right athlete today."
The other finalists were Randolph senior running back/defensive back Chris Doubek; Fredonia junior running back/defensive back Matt McCarthy; St. Joe's senior running back Nigel Davis; Alden sophomore running back/defensive back Lyle Grant; Akron senior wide receiver/running back Austen Lauricella; South Park senior quarterback Tyler Mascio; Canisius senior running back Qadree Ollison; Alden senior quarterback/defensive back Brian Stoldt; and Cleveland Hill senior running back/defensive back Brandon Thomas.
"I think what you understand about Jake is he's the full package," Langworthy said. "Obviously, he's an excellent quarterback and an excellent athlete, but he's also a tremendous teammate and tremendous citizen, and I think you'll see in years to come the ripple effects of what he's done because anyone who is interested in football between the ages of 4 and 14 right now wants to be like Jake Sisson, and that's a great person to want to be like. The athletic stuff is secondary.
"The character stuff is what it's all about."
While his college plans are undecided, Sisson has drawn interest from Division I-AA, Division II and Division III schools.
"I'll find a school that fits me, that wants me and that has my major in it, and go from there," he said.
Before Sisson and his family left the restaurant, though, his younger brother, Andrew, took a look at the huge Connolly Cup trophy sitting on a table and then back to his older brother, who was sporting a green sport coat.
"Hey, Jake, it looks like you just won The Masters," Andrew exclaimed.
In a season to remember, that's about all the Red Raider quarterback didn't do.
"It's a great honor to be here from Jamestown to represent such a great school," Sisson said.
Frank Rossi Jr., who won the 1977 Connolly Cup while playing for Baker Victory, was the guest speaker; Connolly Cup chairman Dennis Sarow made the award presentation; and Jonah Javad of WGRZ TV served as the master of ceremonies. ... With four Connolly Cup winners, Jamestown is tied with St. Francis for second most. Lackawanna, with five recipients, is first. ... Of the 42 winners, 28 have been running backs, 12 have been quarterbacks, while a defensive end and a receiver have each won one.