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