It's always better to give than receive and Randy Smith Sr. has taken that saying to heart.
Smith, a 1991 Lockport alumnus, has decided to donate his Connolly Cup award and The Buffalo News football Player of the Year trophies to his alma mater's updated awards and trophy case. With the passing of his parents Wade and Annie Smith, Randy wanted some of his hardware to return to LHS.
"Since my mom and dad passed away man, those trophies have been in that house for years," Smith said of his Prospect Street childhood home.
"And that was the first thing I thought about, I mean I don't really need them trophies. Especially with the Connolly Cup, I think Lockport should have had at least four of 'em, that's just my opinion. At least four of 'em should've been won in Lockport. Considering I was the only one, I figured I would just donate 'em back to the school man. ... I just don't want 'em to leave Lockport man. My parents loved them. They kept those trophies and there's no reason for them to leave Lockport."
Smith is alluding to Lockport's legacy as a hotbed for standout running backs, even those well ahead of his time. Following behind the lead of his brother Wade Sr., Randy lifted the Lions to back-to-back Section VI Class A titles in 1989 and 1990, knocking off Jamestown both seasons. That 1990 season is where he was awarded both the Connolly Cup and TBN POY.
The next big name Smith alluded to is Jhamal Fluellen, who guided Lockport to its last Section VI championship in 2003, as the former Syracuse and Maine football/track star rushed for over 2,000 yards during his senior year at LHS. Jhamal's brother David was next in line, as he broke many of his brother's all-time Lions rushing marks before starring at Toledo and playing five seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Lastly, Smith gave a nod to James Chambers Jr. — another Connolly Cup finalist — who scored 31 touchdowns in 2012 and led Lockport to its last Class AA division title. Chambers briefly played at the University at Buffalo before becoming an All-Conference player at St. John Fisher.
Smith himself had football success after LHS, posting a hall of fame career with FCS Youngstown State from 1991 to 1994. An All-American defensive back and kick returner, Smith was inducted into the Penguins' athletic hall of fame in 2004 after helping the program win three national championships and make four title game appearances. To this day, Smith still holds or is tied for three YSU records, including interceptions in a game (3), single-season INT yardage (141) and career pass breakups (39).
Smith may have been a big-time college player, but he will always be thankful for the time he spent in blue and gold.
"For me personally, it was our teams. You don't win anything like that by yourself," Smith said. " ... We had very good players, but we were friends. We all hung out, we went out to eat pizza and all those things Friday nights before the games, and it was just we built that bond, I think that was the biggest thing. Because, I mean during those times, we were winning a lot."
Smith still resides in Youngstown, Ohio with his wife Rachael and his three kids. Randy Jr. has followed in his father's footsteps — as he's now playing football at YSU — while his son Cameron is playing football at Austintown-Fitch and his daughter, Chloe, plays soccer. Randy Sr. hopes to see Cam keeping the tradition going by playing Division I football, as he's drawn interest from schools, particularly in the Mid-American Conference.
"He should be on Buffalo's radar, to be honest with you," Randy shared with a chuckle. "The University at Buffalo would be a good option. And I'd love to come home (to watch him play)."
Aside from watching Randy Jr. and Cam play, the closest Randy Sr. gets to being around football now is at Mount Union, as he serves as assistant director of admission at the university — the home of the 13-time Division III national champions.
Always keeping his hometown in mind, Smith giving back his high school trophies is all about inspiring the next generation of Lockport football stars.
"That was my whole point behind this. ... Because I feel that with me man, I was 5-foot nothing man. Didn't even really love football at a time," Smith said.
"But I was good at it, I built a bond with the guys that I played with. But I always wanted to be the best, no matter what I wanted to do, I wanted to be the fastest. ... If I've gotta do it, I'm gonna do it, I want to be the best out there. I just think that they can look at that and say 'wow man, somebody from Lockport actually did win this, man I can do it too.' ... I never really realized the magnitude of it when I was going through it.
" ... I just hope that for the kids, they're not gonna know who I am, but at the same time, it's like 'hey man, somebody actually won this thing, from small Lockport.'"