Bulls have call to arms

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Fri­day at UB Sta­dium shed some light on two can­di­dates.

Kyle Vantrease and Do­minic John­son split reps dur­ing the Bulls’ final spring prac­tice. Vantrease, a ju­nior, com­pleted 10 of 22 passes for 96 yards. John­son, a red­shirt sopho­more, com­pleted 4 of 7 passes for 37 yards and a touch­down to Jo­vany Ruiz (four catches for 56 yards and a touch­down) and was in­ter­cepted once.

Vantrease and John­son’s statis­tics alone, how­ever, don’t nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate where the com­pe­ti­tion stands at the end of spring prac­tices. There are a few more things UB’s coaches will use to grade its quar­ter­backs.

Leipold pointed out ar­eas where Vantrease and John­son need to im­prove: tim­ing, work­ing in run-pass op­tion sit­u­a­tions and re­act­ing quicker on the field.

“Both those guys con­tinue to grasp things,” Leipold said. “The big thing we wanted to tell them af­ter our last scrim­mage was, ‘it’s tough, whether or not you’ve been named the starter or not, but when you’re in that hud­dle, you have to act like you’re the starter. Com­mand ev­ery­one to take heed of your lead­er­ship.’

“I think we’re start­ing to see it. They’re feel­ing more com­fort­able. But the part that’s not to­tally fair to eval­u­ate is tim­ing, and some of the other ex­e­cu­tion. We’re ro­tat­ing, putting them with dif­fer­ent groups, and those things will have to be eval­u­ated a lit­tle bit more in Au­gust.”

Vantrease is con­fi­dent in his growth as a leader, but said he has to im­prove on lin­ing up his team­mates in for­ma­tions on the field, strengthen


ing his com­mand in the hud­dle and build­ing con­fi­dence among his team­mates.

“For me, the big­gest ar­eas of im­prove­ment were in lead­er­ship,” said Vantrease, who com­pleted 29 of 66 passes for 375 yards and two touch­downs, and was in­ter­cepted twice in six games in 2017 and 2018. “I think I stepped up into some of the roles, and I think there’s al­ways ar­eas for im­prove­ment, but I think some of my pro­gres­sions have got­ten a lot bet­ter, my footwork, my arm speed and my ac­cu­racy.”

John­son is fo­cus­ing on the work he will do this sum­mer, in or­der to pre­pare for fall camp. In par­tic­u­lar, John­son plans to work with UB’s quar­ter­backs and re­ceivers, and with strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Matt Gilder­sleeve in an off­sea­son train­ing pro­gram.

“Over the sum­mer is when most of the de­vel­op­ment comes,” said John­son, who com­pleted one of two passes for four yards and was in­ter­cepted once in four games in 2018. “Over the sum­mer, the amount of work, and head­ing into fall camp, coach was say­ing it might not nec­es­sar­ily be the guy who is play­ing the best in the spring, but the guy who’s re­ally per­form­ing in the fall, head­ing into the sea­son.”

Vantrease and John­son also played in a scaled-down ver­sion of a spring game. At least 11 play­ers didn’t par­tic­i­pate in the spring scrim­mage, due to in­juries or re­cov­ery from off­sea­son surg­eries. Among those play­ers: run­ning back Kevin Marks, cor­ner­back Aapri Wash­ing­ton and quar­ter­back Matt My­ers.

My­ers, a fresh­man from West Seneca West, wore a pro­tec­tive sleeve around his right leg, but is ex­pected to be a part of the quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion when the Bulls open pre­sea­son camp in early Au­gust.

“His spring was highly lim­ited, which is dis­ap­point­ing,” Leipold said of My­ers. “But, again, that’s some­thing we can get caught up in, when we get to Au­gust. That quar­ter­back bat­tle will con­tinue through camp, and as some new ar­rivals show up in the sum­mer, I think you’ll see our pass­ing game con­tinue to grow.”

UB will have a fourth can­di­date at quar­ter­back when Trevor By­czn­ski joins the pro­gram this sum­mer as a fresh­man. By­czn­ski is a 6-foot5, pro-style quar­ter­back from Berea, Ohio, who signed with the Bulls in De­cem­ber.

In ad­di­tion to find­ing a new quar­ter­back, the Bulls will also have to de­velop a de­pleted wide re­ceiv­ing corps. Of the six dif­fer­ent play­ers that caught passes in the spring game, An­to­nio Nunn will be UB’s lead­ing re­turn­ing re­ceiver, with 146 yards and a touch­down on 12 catches in 2018.

Leipold con­firmed that wide re­ceiver Char­lie Jones is no longer with the foot­ball pro­gram, and that he did not prac­tice with the Bulls this spring. UB has lost its top five wide re­ceivers from 2018; Jones would have been UB’s top re­turn­ing wide re­ceiver with 395 yards and three touch­downs on 18 catches.

“Our num­bers at re­ceiver are down right now, for var­i­ous rea­sons,” Leipold said. “So it’s re­ally hard to get a gauge on that.”

Clarence girls win in OT

Not one but two Ni­a­gara Wheat­field leads needed to be erased if Clarence’s girls lacrosse team wanted to head home with a win.

It took an ex­tra pe­riod, but that’s pre­cisely what hap­pened as the Red Devils topped the Fal­cons, 15-14, on a grey Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Emma Faso scored the gamewin­ner nine sec­onds into over­time for Clarence (6-1, 1-0). She fin­ished with three goals.

Madi­son Leeper tied the game with 32 sec­onds left on her fourth score of the day.

Ni­a­gara Wheat­field main­tained an 8-6 lead early in the third pe­riod be­fore Clarence tied it.

The Fal­cons rat­tled off five unan­swered goals to re­take the lead. Not to be out­done, the Red Devils did the same to tie the game at 14 be­fore Faso’s game-win­ner in over­time.

DiPerro’s bat leads Depew

Three home runs from Depew se­nior An­nie DiPerro high­lighted the Wild­cats’ 18-1 vic­tory over Pi­o­neer in soft­ball ac­tion Fri­day.

DiPerro cranked a grand slam and a two-run shot for her first two home runs and punc­tu­ated the per­for­mance with a solo shot late in the game.

Coach Dan Seelig said each home run was hit to the same spot; roped over the 200-foot left field fence at Depew’s new turf field.

The Pan­thers’ bats were silent for most of the day. Eighth-grader Jor­dan West

WSE has big day from two Sroda, Haet­tich de­clare

Two West­ern New York se­niors have an­nounced their in­ten­tions to play lacrosse at the col­le­giate level.

Eden’s Colby Sroda will sport the brown and white of St. Bon­aven­ture, while West Seneca West’s Kyle Haet­tich in­tends to play for Di­vi­sion II Lake Erie Col­lege.

Sroda scored 23 goals in 16 games and was named to the Al­lS­tate sec­ond team last sea­son as a mid­fielder.

He also played run­ning back and de­fen­sive back for Eden and saw time on the bas­ket­ball court.

Haet­tich logged 22 goals his ju­nior year as West Seneca West made it to the semi­fi­nal round of the Class B cham­pi­onship be­fore los­ing to Ham­burg.

On the grid­iron, he earned a spot on the All-West­ern New York third team as a de­fen­sive back and wide re­ceiver.

Haet­tich also played hockey for the In­di­ans.

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

Buf­falo quar­ter­back Kyle Vantrease throws one of his 22 passes dur­ing the spring game at UB Sta­dium Fri­day night.

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

UB coach Lance Leipold drafts Pey­ton Longo, 16, of Cheek­towaga through the Team IM­PACT pro­gram that con­nects chil­dren fac­ing se­ri­ous and chronic ill­nesses with lo­cal col­lege athletic teams.

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