Storylines: Bills vs. Cardinals

Editor’s note: This story was shared with The Scribe by Couch Guy Sports.

After beating the Seattle Seahawks last week, the 7-2 Buffalo Bills will travel to Arizona for a battle with the 5-3 Cardinals. In this article, I will break down a couple of things that I will be keeping my eye on in this game.

Josh vs. Kyler

Week 10 fantasy football rankings: Kyler Murray vs. Josh Allen highlights matchups to prep for

Not only will we see two upcoming teams battle, but we will also see two young promising quarterbacks go head to head. Josh Allen and Kyler Murray will face off for the first time on Sunday and it will be an exciting matchup to watch. According to Pro Football Reference, Murray has 2,130 passing yards and 543 rushing yards. He has eight rushing touchdowns, 16 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions. For Allen, he has 241 rushing yards and rushed for five touchdowns. When it comes to passing, the Bills quarterback has 2,587 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. It will be interesting to see what happens on Sunday, but I am looking forward to see Allen and Murray duel.

Tre vs. D-Hop

DeAndre Hopkins passes Andre Johnson in playoff receptions

Whenever you get a chance to see a top cornerback and a top wide receiver battle it out, you know it’s going to be entertaining. However, Tre’Davious White vs. DeAndre Hopkins will be even more entertaining. The history behind these two stars go back to last year before the wild card game between the Bills and Texans. Before the game, Hopkins posted a picture on his social media showing Hopkins catching a ball while White was defending him. The caption said “2020 mood.” Below is the picture Hopkins used before he deleted it.

Texans' Deshaun Watson planning to go at Bills' Tre White, likes match up with DeAndre Hopkins - syracuse.com

We’re in for a great battle between two good teams and it will be a fun game to watch. You can catch the game on CBS @4:05 pm.

Hilbert Women’s Soccer Players Adjust To New Protocols

The Hilbert Women’s Soccer team is having to adapt to many new changes and precautions this upcoming spring season. 

The team had to adapt many new protocols because of COVID-19, including the delay of the season, new practice times and a different schedule.  There were many new restrictions added this year because of the pandemic. 

Sophomore Amber Stuck said this season had many new changes, but she is looking forward to the spring.

“We will have probably around eight games which would be playing each team in the conference once,” Stuck said. “I think we start around March/April and it will probably be a month and a half to two months long.”

This means that the team will have a few less games than usual but will still be able to play each team at least once. 

Freshman Paige Wagner said she is happy to be seeing her teammates at all, given the circumstances.

“I expected to not even begin practicing yet this year because of COVID, so I’m glad we are able to practice,” Wagner said. “I really enjoy being on the team so far and I am excited for if and when we get to play games.”

The team is still able to practice.  They have a special sanitizing crew that sanitizes all equipment after every practice.  They practice twice a week in separate groups. 

Sophomore Macy Kisner said everyone is still getting used to the new protocols.

“Every practice, my team and I have to wear masks walking over to the field, where our temperatures are taken before every practice,” Kisner said. “We practice in groups of ten, so we stay separate from each other.”

The season does have lots of minor changes like taking temperatures before practice, creation of the sanitation crew and a different game schedule than last year. 

But, even with all these new changes put in place this year, the team seems excited and ready to play in the spring, Paige Wagner, a team captain said.

“I can’t wait see what the future holds for this team and this coming season,” Wagner said.

Memorable Blue Jays’ Stay in Buffalo

There were a few surprise teams that made the MLB playoffs in this shortened season, including the Toronto Blue Jays. Because of Covid-19, the season got cut down from 162 games to 60 games and the playoff format was expanded. With the season being shorter, every game was a must win. The Blue Jays have some young players who have promising futures in the league. Despite getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card round, the future is bright for the Jays.

With the Canadian government not allowing the Blue Jays to play in Toronto, the team played their home games in Buffalo, home of their Triple A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. The play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, Pat Malacaro, had the opportunity to be the PA announcer for the games in Buffalo. I was able to talk to him about the Blue Jays season.

When asked about the expectations for the team, Malacaro said, “Expectations in March were finishing third place in the division (AL East) and hoping to contend for a wild card spot.”

Once the season was shortened to 60 games, then making the playoffs was actually a possibility. In order to make the playoffs, every single player would have a to contribute and they did, he said.

“A lot of guys contributed they were figuring out who they were” Malacaro added.

Some of the MVP candidates for the team were infielder Cavan Biggio and Teoscar Hernandez. A couple of acquisitions from the trade deadline that could help the team not spend big money in free agency are two pitchers, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker. “If the Jays hang on to these players, it will help the development of the pitchers in the minor leagues” said Malacaro.

Looking to next season, Pat thinks shortstop Bo Bichette will take a big step. “If he’s consistent with his offense, he can be the lead-off hitter” said Malacaro. One player who struggled was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is considered one of the best prospects in the entire league. He’s known for his power so you think he would be hitting a lot of home runs. Well he didn’t do a lot of that this during the regular season.

“His biggest issue is getting into baseball shape” Malacaro said. “Covid-19 didn’t help because routine is a big thing for baseball players. Going forward, if he can get into good shape going forward, then he will be successful.”

The future is bright for the Blue Jays. It’s a possibility they will be a powerhouse in the few years.

Sabres Trade for Veteran Center Staal

Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild made a deal. Buffalo sent Marcus Johansson to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Eric Staal. At first, I was confused. However, after I did some research, I like this deal for the Sabres. Last season, Johansson showed some signs of being productive but didn’t play up to level we expected him to. Recording only 30 points (9 G, 21 A), he really wasn’t much of a factor.

When I looked at Staal stats, they were better than I expected. With 47 points (19 G, 28 A), this is a good pickup for Buffalo. Even though he’s getting up there in age, I feel like he can be a reliable player for the Sabres. The team also gets a position they needed, a second line center. Now it’s up to General Manager Kevyn Adams to get more players who can score. I would like to see Buffalo get a player like Tyler Toffoli, Mike Hoffman or Tomas Hertl. It’s not a major pickup but I think Staal will be decent for the Sabres.

Phillips and Martineau Reflect on Four Years of Hilbert Basketball

Hunter Martineau and Masia Phillips are both four year Hilbert men’s basketball team members. The two guards came in together as freshmen, both far away from their homes, and built a bond right here in Hamburg. Phillips, who is from Queens in New York City, has made a name for himself with the program. He is well accomplished in the sport having scored over 1,000 points and received all conference honors. Phillips, a program great, is Top 10 in ten of the program’s statistical categories.

Martineau, a modest kid from Erie, Pennsylvania, has also left his mark on program history. Hunter accumulated 1,000 points over his career and now sits at the top in assists for Hilbert’s basketball program. Hunter isn’t new to awards and acknowledgement, he has received all conference honors all 4 years and was once named team MVP. What’s even more impressive than that, while being a beast on the court, he is also a beast in the classroom. Hunter was inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society.

The Scribe reached out to both Phillips and Martineau to talk about their experiences with the program and also the community surrounding the school. In addition, we got to hear about the hardships they faced, the brotherhood that was formed, and a little sneak peek into their future endeavors.

The Scribe: Masia, you grew up in New York City, the mecca of basketball. Can you explain how basketball was a part of your early life and how it moved you forward as a person?

Masia Phillips: My older siblings and cousins all played basketball. I got to grow up watching them play. As I got older, I just got into it around 6 years old. I was playing in a house ball coached by my mother. I started meeting friends through basketball and continued that through middle and high school, and college. That’s why I love the game so much.

TS: Hunter, amongst other things, you are known by your incredible self-discipline and willpower. Can you tell us how basketball helped you develop self-discipline and do you use that skill in your everyday life?

martineau_lay_up

Courtesy of Hilbert College Athletics

Hunter Martineau: Basketball taught me self-discipline, if you want to be the best, you have to train like the best. You have discipline yourself to get up every day, get in the gym, get in the weight room. You can use that discipline to do homework, getting up and going to class.

TS: What can you guys tell us about playing for Hilbert? How difficult was the transition from high school to college?

MP: The transition was pretty tough, the game is much faster, much more you need to learn.

HM: The transition for me personally was a bit different. My high school had 4,000 students, Hilbert is only pushing 1,000 if that. Some of the high schools had teams that were just as competitive, but the games were slower because Florida schools don’t have a shot clock, it was a different game. (Masia) I think there was more competition in high school because everyone plays together, there are teams with multiple Division 1 talent.

TS: For Your tenure on the team, you have seen players come and go. What has helped you two to stay focused and committed to the program for 4 years.

HM: My family loves to watch me play, if I was quitting on myself, I was also quitting on them as well. At the same time, my passion for the game, I don’t think I would ever quit unless it’s for dire circumstances.

MP: I had lots of thoughts of leaving the program, but I always had my family to keep me in a space where I can forget about it and just play. If it wasn’t for my family or the love I have for the game, the story would’ve been different.

TS: How do you guys balance being a student athlete?

HM: I try not to save everything for the last minute, whether it’s homework, you want to get shots up, or spending time with your significant others.

MP: I just try my best to know and remember my schedule.

TS: Are the accomplishments something you guys set out for? How did you balance personal goals and team goals?

HM: I’m not much of a scorer, so the 1,000 points is something that I never set out to do, but was pretty cool. I’ve always been a passer, it wasn’t a goal of mine, but I saw it happening if I played well. Those records really don’t mean much, you never want to let them get to your head.

MP: In high school, I never got to the 1,000 points. That kind of bothered me because I was a 4 year varsity player. It was personal for me to get 1,000 points, but that never got in the way of goals that the team had.

TS: What can you guys say about the brotherhood formed with teammates and the relationships built with classmates?

HM: I’m very fortunate for all the guys that have come through here. I truly believe that there were mostly good guys that came through. The amount of friendships and relationships I have built is the reason why you come to a small school like this.

MP: Being on a sports team, you get to know people real quick and people get to know you real quick.

TS: Why did you guys pick Hilbert?

HM: I’m from Erie, Pa (Lived in Orlando for 9 years where he played high school ball), the school isn’t too far, I have good support nearby, and it seemed like a good fit.

MP: The biggest city in the nation has a lot of problems sometimes. I just wanted to get away from home, and challenge myself to be on my own.

TS: Having lived here for four years, what can you say about life in WNY? Is there a possibility of you coming back?

MP: Buffalo is a calm city, I like it. It’s not that big of a rush, no crazy night life. Definitely not what I’m used to, but I got used to it. I don’t know if i can start my life after college here, but I’ll definitely come back and visit.

HM: Buffalo is a great city. It’s actually very similar to earlier where I grew up. As long as there’s an airport that can connect me back home to Orlando, I’ll always consider Buffalo as a second home. Bills fans are very passionate, and I love Buffalo wings.

TS: What are your future plans for education and basketball? Is it over?

HM:  For me at least, I think my basketball career in a competitive sense is over. I’ll be doing mens league and coaching but I’m done. I plan on working my way up to an athletic director.

MP: Basketball wise, as of right now is over, I’ll still be playing here and there. I want to become a risk analyst, I also want to work for the city of New York.

 

Jezioro: The Bills’ Big Offseason

With the NFL Draft approaching, the Buffalo Bills do not have a first round pick as of right now. That’s because they made a blockbuster trade that reverberated around the league, acquiring one of the best receivers in the league. Let’s take a look at that trade and the other moves the team has made so far.

Stefon Diggs

This is the biggest acquisition in the offseason for the Bills. Buffalo finally got what they desperately needed, a true number one wide receiver. Last season, Diggs had a great year with the Minnesota Vikings. He had 63 receptions, caught six touchdown passes and recorded 1,130 yards. To get Diggs, the Bills gave up their first, fifth, and sixth round pick in this years draft. They also gave up their seventh round pick in 2020 and a fourth round pick in 2021. While it was a haul, I think it’s worth it. You have a proven talented receiver in Diggs and on top of that, a good wide receiver core. Along with John Brown and Cole Beasley, quarterback Josh Allen has an amazing opportunity to prove that he is the franchise QB for Buffalo. The speed that Diggs has is amazing and I can’t wait for him to utilize it as a Bill.

Josh Norman

I like this deal for the team. It’s a one year deal for the former Redskins cornerback and if he can play like the shutdown corner he was in Carolina, this signing is a home run for Bills General Manager Brandon Beane. Last season, Norman had only one interception. I have a feeling that he will have a better season with the Bills playing opposite Pro-Bowler Tre’Davious White as the starting corner. Buffalo also has a much more talented core than Washington. I feel like Norman won’t have to feel pressured considering he doesn’t have to cover the best receiver on the opposing team every single play during a game.

Mario Addison

I absolutely love this signing by the Bills. The defensive end had 34 tackles and 9.5 sacks with the Carolina Panthers last year. With Buffalo losing defensive end Shaq Lawson in free agency, Addison is a great replacement for Lawson. He can also play linebacker but I think he’ll spend most of his time playing DE. Adding to an already dangerous defensive line, this is a good signing.

Quinton Spain

Bringing back Spain was a great decision by Beane. Last year, he did not allow a single sack all season. That is unheard of in a league full of great defensive players who can get to the QB. The offensive line was inconsistent last season but Spain was fantastic and I’m pumped the Bills brought him back.

The time is now for the Bills to not only win the division, but finally win a playoff game. They had a great chance to win against the Texans in last year’s wildcard game, but it didn’t end up the way they wanted to. As for Allen, no excuses. He has some dangerous weapons and Diggs should help him out.

All stats are from NFL.com and the details from the Diggs trade is credited to WGR550.com.

Jezioro: AFC East Predictions

With NFL free agency underway, the focus now shifts to the NFL Draft taking place in April. The Buffalo Bills have already made some moves signing free agents, but the biggest acquisition they made was trading for wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings. The following day was even better when Bills killer Tom Brady left the New England Patriots after 20 years of dominance, signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Besides Brady, the Patriots lost some key pieces on defense, but the mastermind of Bill Belichick is still there. The head coach is without Brady for the first time in two decades, giving the Bills a realistic chance to take over as division winners. However, there are a couple of things that need to happen in order for them to accomplish that goal.

First up is better play from quarterback Josh Allen. Last season, Allen showed some signs of being a good quarterback, but he struggled in some situations. It’s expected to have a second year player to struggle. It’s going to happen. However, there were times where Allen was just awful. This year, he needs to step it up. Buffalo’s passing offense was not good last season, despite having some good receivers (John Brown and Cole Beasley). Now that Diggs is a Bill, there are hopes that the passing offense will be top ten in the league. No excuses, Allen needs to take it to the next level this upcoming season.

Next up is the offensive line. They need to protect Allen better so he doesn’t have to escape the pocket every single play. If they can give him good protection for a good part of each game, then Allen will be successful. They can’t be perfect every play but for the majority of each game will be ideal. A good example is the game against the Dallas Cowboys last season on Thanksgiving. There was a play where the offensive line blocked so well that Allen just stood perfectly still like a statue for two or three seconds, but it seemed like ten seconds. That’s how much time Allen had to find an open receiver and throw the ball. If they can play good consistently, then it will be really good for the team and Allen.

Lastly, sophomore running back Devin Singletary needs to do a better job of protecting the ball. As a rookie he dropped the ball four times. He has the speed to be a good running back but if he can just fix up his ball handling, then he’s all set to go.

Staying healthy and winning the most games in the AFC East also needs to happen but that’s common sense. The most important thing is Allen improving, that’s the number one thing in my opinion. There are other scenarios that need to happen but it is critical that Josh gets better. With the improvements made in the offseason, it is very possible the Bills could win the AFC East for the first time in a long time.

Q&A: The Bandits’ Chase Fraser

Chase Fraser, the third-year forward for the National Lacrosse League’s Buffalo Bandits, is having a great season. In only eight games played this season, Fraser has 16 goals and 10 assists. The Bandits are looking to win it all this year after losing to the Calgary Roughnecks. At this moment, the Bandits are currently sitting in second place in the North Division and have the second-best record in their division (7-4). With a very lethal offense, the team has a great chance to get back into the finals this season. Recently, the Scribe’s Zach Jezioro had a chance to interview the star forward.

The Scribe: What made you want to become a lacrosse player?

Chase Fraser: I was watching a game and I saw a huge brawl break out. I said to myself “I want to be in that.” Also, my brother plays lacrosse as well

TS: Who inspires you the most?

CF: My uncle.

TS: Why did you choose the number 95?

CF: It was the year I was born.

TS: After a disappointing finish last season, what’s motivating the team to win it all this year?

CF: Having a gritty attitude and also having a stronger mentality.

TS: Is there any atmosphere like Banditland?

CF: Not even close, nothing compares to it.

TS: What do you hope to achieve by the end of your career?

CF: Winning a championship with whatever team I play for, finishing top ten in points, and winning the MVP.

TS: What’s it like playing with this group of players?

CF: It’s great. We always make sure we’re on the same page and we always motivate each other.

TS: What’s it like playing for John Tavares?

CF: It’s awesome, he brings so much knowledge and it really benefits me and the rest of the team.