3-sport star Caden Smith of Franklin Regional named Tribune-Review Westmoreland Boys Athlete of the Year

Saturday, July 2, 2022 | 6:11 PM

Franklin Regional started an athletics hall of fame this year.

A future inductee might have just graduated.

Caden Smith made the best of his time at Franklin Regional, excelling in three sports for the better part of four years.

His senior season was his best as he made first-team all-conference or all-section in three sports: football, basketball and baseball.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Smith was just as valuable in one sport as he was in another, making him the favorite for Tribune-Review Westmoreland Boys Athlete of the Year.

Southmoreland’s Anthony Govern (wrestling, football, baseball, track), Devin Whitlock (football, basketball) and Quinton Martin (football, basketball) of Belle Vernon, Greensburg Salem’s Hayden Teska (football, baseball) and Dayton Pitzer of Mt. Pleasant (wrestling) also were considered.

“Obviously, Caden is a great combo of size, athleticism, and skill,” Franklin Regional basketball coach Jesse Reed said. “But what made him so special is his leadership and competitive edge. No matter what we were doing in practice, he was trying to win. He set the tone and motivated the other guys to follow suit. The rest of the team really looked up to him and followed his lead. His energy and intensity were contagious.”

Smith was a wide receiver and safety in football who often out-leaped defenders for downfield receptions and broke up would-be grabs on the other side of the ball.

He carved a path to college in football, accepting a preferred walk-on offer to play at Pitt.

“It’s going to be really cool to see him specialize in football and see his development, because he’s never been able to focus solely on one sport,” Reed said.

Smith also played some wildcat quarterback and linebacker for the Panthers. He had 31 receptions for 360 yards, threw for 274 yards and three scores and had five interceptions on defense for a playoff team.

In basketball, he used his length to get up and over defenders with pull-up jumpers or drives to the rim. He also was a challenge to go against on defense.

Smith averaged 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists as the Panthers just missed the WPIAL playoffs.

When the spring rolled around, Smith took the mound as one of the team’s top pitchers alongside Jordan Suvak, moving from right field, where he made plays last year.

He remained one of the team’s best hitters and run producers.

“Caden has an extremely strong work ethic and a desire to succeed in all that he does,” Franklin Regional baseball coach Bobby Saddler said. “He is so athletic that he can play any position on the baseball field, and he was willing to do that for our team the past two seasons.”

Smith also played shortstop and center field.

He hit .429 with seven doubles, three triples, 13 RBIs and 21 runs.

“Caden is a team-first guy and is always willing to do whatever is necessary for the team to get a win,” Saddler said. “He’s a natural leader. Not only does he lead by example, but players look and listen to him before, during and after games.”

Always quick to deflect attention with an air of humility, Smith credits the people in his circle for his success.

“The support from my coaches and teammates throughout the year is what made it so special for me,” he said.

While Smith had a number of big plays in all three seasons, one in particular stands out to him.

“I think my favorite memory was coming back against Latrobe during football season,” he said, referring to the Panthers rallying from 40-14 down to beat Latrobe, 41-40. Smith pulled in the tying touchdown with 1 minute, 17 seconds left, and Joey Bayne kicked the go-ahead extra point.

“Just having this whole year to look back on is going to be a lifelong memory for me,” Smith said.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

More Baseball

Recruiting process takes Freeport pitcher Michael Hanz to the place he belongs
Norwin notebook: Former Knights baseball standout wins Palomino World Series
PONY League World Series begins in Washington County
Younger brother is best friend, inspiration to Chartiers Valley assistant baseball coach
Senior class leaves unprecedented mark on Bethel Park baseball program